Making a poor impression

Pressing faults are one of the most frequent causes of problems for the drycleaner. As a result, many drycleaners are wary about causing damage for which they might be held responsible. This applies particularly to those that have had no formal instruction in this skill.

A fully trained presser will have been taught the meaning of the aftercare symbols. The most important are the one-dot iron, which warns about the use of steam, and the iron with a cross through it, which specifically bans the use of free steam. The crossed-out iron symbol means that the garment may not even be put on the steam-air former or steamed on the bed of the press.

An over-confident presser can be even worse than a wary one.

Heavy-handed pressing using the wrong lays leads to embossing, glazing and occasionally trim damage. Incorrect locking pressures

and wrong use of the steam pedal compound faults.

Modern garment designs and constructions demand correct procedures and adequate care. The Guild of Cleaners and Launderers pressing manual sets out the pressing lays very clearly and these form the basis for perfect results that will please the customer. The techniques for success are not difficult to learn.

Clamp creases skirt

Fault: This skirt was finished in a steam cabinet and then touched up, by hand, on the press. Afterwards, the customer noted a sharp crease in the hemline at the side seam.

Cause: The short, sharp crease at the hemline indicates that the fabric has been trapped in the weighting clamp applied by the cabinet operator.

Responsibility: The cabinet operator is responsible for setting the crease, but the pressing operator should have removed it during touching up.

Rectification: This crease can be taken out completely by damping the area and pressing the fabric again.

One trouser leg is longer than the other

Fault: The customer noticed that one trouser leg was longer than the other after this pair had been cleaned and pressed.

Cause: The trousers were made from a fabric that includes an elastomer, giving them a bi-stretch character. If this material is hand-pressed with care (without any steam and without stretching) then the leg length will not change by much. (There may possibly be a little relaxation shrinkage.) However, if the garment is placed in a steam cabinet or on an open steam-air former, with clamps on the bottoms of the legs, the clamps’ weight will stretch one or both legs and the steaming and hot air blow will set the legs to the stretched length. Often the two legs will be stretched to different lengths.

Responsibility: The blame for this fault usually lies with the operator. It is a risk with any bi-stretch fabric, even a crepe. Some manufacturers warn of the risk with a one-dot iron, but steam alone is not the problem. The damage is caused by the weighting clamp, which is the operator’s responsibility.

Rectification: If the garment can be re-pressed with suitable frames to stretch the legs back in the width, they should come back to length. Otherwise, re-hemming is the only solution, but the legs will be narrower.

Polyester becomes glazed

Fault: The surface of this polyester-blend skirt became shiny and had a yellow hue after it had been hand-finished on a professional finishing table. The care label carried a 2-dot iron symbol.

Cause: Examining the skirt under strong magnification showed that the polyester fibres in this blend had been softened and flattened. Polyester starts to soften at around 180C, depending on the polymer chain length. This means that the fabric has been ironed at a setting that was much higher than the 2-dot (150C) specified on the label.

Responsibility: The blame here lies with the presser.

Rectification: None.