Trims are still causing problems for drycleaners as many clothing manufacturers still do not properly understand what drycleaning involves and how it can affect trimmed garments. The problem can be found at all levels from market stall garments to designer outfits. Trim suppliers still do not understand the requirements to which a trim should conform if the garment is labelled as suitable for drycleaning. Nobody seems to be taking any action to change this.

Trims continue to include components that are not drycleanable and their construction frequently will not withstand drycleaning so that they come apart in the machine. Trims are often attached to the garment in a way that also fails to take account of normal drycleaning.

Garments are often labelled as suitable for cleaning by a method which can damage the trim. Around 30% of the garment ranges have this fault.

British and International standards do their best to support the drycleaner. The care labelling code in ISO3758 stipulates that the care label refers to the entire garment. The methods for assessing drycleanability and wetcleanability in ISO3175 start out with a table of parameters to be assessed and this includes the performance of the trim in the test process.

The test methods for sensitive and for very sensitive items do not call for the use of net bagging, button protectors or for trims to be removed. The standard implicitly expects trims to be able to withstand the specified test process without these precautions.

These case studies show the just some of the problems. Show this article to your local boutiques.

Jewels lose their sparkle

Fault: This dress was trimmed with ruby-coloured stones and these were backed with gold foil, which caught the light and gave the jewels an added sparkle. Most of the foil was removed during cleaning and the stones no longer had that eye-catching glint.

Cause: The gold foil had been attached to the flat base of the ruby stones with an adhesive. Although perc was one of the solvents specified by the care label the backing dissolved when the dress was cleaned in perc.

Responsibility: All parts of the garment, including the trim and any adhesives used, are supposed to be able resist the cleaning solvents on the care label. The garment maker is to blame here.

Rectification: None is possible. The garment must be re-trimmed with more appropriate stones. For the future, the garment maker should specify the solvent resistance of the trim to be used and check each batch. The test is very simple and can be done in-house, following the general principles of the method given in British Standard 4162 Method 6. This was designed for buttons but can be used for any trim.

Gilt no longer glitters

Fault: This waistcoat had bright, gilded “clover leaf” style decorations. After the garment had been cleaned the trims looked dull and the coating had disappeared in places leaving bare patches.

Cause: The gilt coating has been softened by the solvent and as a result it has lost its bright appearance. The mechanical action of the cleaning process then chipped away at the softened surface. More of the coating will be lost if the garment is cleaned again.

Responsibility: The garment maker should take responsibility for this damage. Some gilts might not have reacted in this way.

Rectification: None is possible.

Glass beading breaks

Fault: The laminar glass pendants to the trim on this garment were broken when they came out of the machine.

Cause: The trim here has not been able to withstand the tumbling action in the solvent wash or in the drying stage. The repeated random collisions of the trim against the rotating metal cage have broken the weakest part of the trim, in this case the glass pendants.

Responsibility: In this case the blame is difficult to apportion. According to the international standard, the trim should have been able to withstand the process without needing basting, the garment to be reversed or protected with a net bag so any court claim ought to fail. However, the degree of protection that the cleaner gave the trim is questionable. Common sense should have told the cleaner that it would be advisable to cover the trim with cotton wadding. If this had been done damage could have been avoided.

Rectification: The garment needs re-trimming with a more appropriate trim.

Poor stitching unravels

Fault: This garment was cleaned on a mild process as specified on the care label but when it came out of the machine the stitching that attached the bead trim had unravelled and many of the beads had been lost.

Cause: The stitching used here has not been tied off correctly at the end of the attachment process. As a result wherever there has been a thread break or interruption the stitching has unravelled with the repeated mechanical action of the rotating cage during the solvent wash and especially during the tumble dry.

Responsibility: This lies with the garment maker, not the cleaner in this instance. Critical examination of the stitching indicates that more will be lost in the next cleaning.

Rectification: The trim cannot be repaired unless identical beading is available. For the future, stitching needs to be tied off with three reverse stitches or an equally secure method whenever there is a thread interruption.

Painted beads lose face

Fault: This jacket drycleaned perfectly except that the paint on the colourful bobbles came away and marked the rest of the garment.

Cause: There are many bright paints that are solvent resistant and so do not come away in drycleaning. Unfortunately the paints used here could not resist the solvent.

Responsibility: The garment maker should take the blame. This garment was labelled for drycleaning in perc, which is the strongest solvent available to the retail cleaner. Perc is used neat so the retailer’s suggestion that the cleaner used “too strong a solution” is not acceptable, especially as the garment was labelled with P in a circle.

Rectification: None is possible.