Understanding the process
Wetcleaning came of age in 2005 with the adoption of specific care symbols based on W in a circle. The plain W in a circle indicated the ability to withstand a "normal" wetcleaning cycle, one bar beneath the symbol indicated a "mild" process and two bars beneath the symbol meant that a "very mild" process was required.
British and International Standards BS EN ISO 3175-4 for testing suitability for wetcleaning defines normal, mild and very mild precisely. It is important to understand that all three symbols refer to processes that are milder than can be achieved in a domestic washer and that they need drying processes that are gentler than those achievable in a domestic or standard commercial tumble dryer.
A "normal" wetcleaning cycle calls for 40C max water temperature, reduced mechanical action and an increased water to textiles ratio. Work can be tumble dried to 3% moisture retention.
A "mild" cycle also requires reduced mechanical action and increased water ratio but additionally specifies water at 30C maximum, specialised additives and a specially designed cage, and a specialised drying program at 60C down to 15% residual moisture.
Wash restrictions for a "very mild" cycle are similar but tumble drying is restricted to 2 minutes at 40C followed by natural air drying.
The key to protecting textiles in wetcleaning lies in the use of a large cage, the ability to pause for variable periods during reversals. The increased liquor ratio cushions the textiles and specialised chemicals are used to protect the fabric, so that the cleaning relies on the water.
The drying restrictions are particularly important to avoid natural and artificial silks cracking and shrinking and also to avoid hair fibres, such as mohair, cashmere, angora and alpaca, felting and shrinking. Both wetcleaning and drying call for flexible computer controls to adjust times, temperatures, dosages, and dwell times. Some wetcleaners use static dummies in a drying cabinet to overcome tumbling problems. The case studies show the problems that can result through failure to wetcleaning requirements fully.

Colours do not match after wetcleaning
The customer said that the colours of the main underskirt and the bodice of this wedding dress matched exactly but during wetcleaning the colours of each developed to produce a very noticeable mismatch.
Cause: The way fabrics react to wetcleaning may differ according to the fibre type and this is an extreme example.
Responsibility: The fault is unusual but the cleaner took the blame as the dress was unlabelled and they did not ask for an owner’s risk form. There were no other cleaner errors. The garment cleaned well and all food and drink stains were removed.
Rectification: None.

Outer skirt shrinks and pulls up hemline
This fine wedding dress distorted severely during wetcleaning even though it was hung to dry naturally. The lined viscose outer skirt has shrunk by far more than its lining, pulling up the hemline so that the lining is visible.
Cause: The lining has been stitched to the outer all along the hemline, so there is no allowance for differential shrinkage in cleaning. The garment is labelled only for drycleaning but the cleaner wetcleaned it as it had heavy food and champagne staining.
Responsibility: The cleaner should take the blame for the shrinkage as this would have been much less if the dress had been drycleaned and it might have been recovered by re-pressing with skilful use of steam and tension. The cleaner should have explained the shrinkage risk and asked the owner to authorise wetcleaning
Rectification: Wetcleaning has given the best result with the champagne and food staining but if the customer had authorised the shrinkage risk, then they would have been responsible for having the hem re-made. The cleaner will now have to take responsibility for getting this done.

Sugar stain splashes removed by wetcleaning
Yellow-brown marks in liquid splash patterns could be seen after drycleaning this designer dress and there was too much for standard pre-spotting to remove.
Cause: This dress has sustained extensive splashing with sugar-based drinks but this would not have been visible at reception. Solvent will not dissolve sugars and the residues have caramelised during drying, leaving brown marks. Seen under UV light, as in the picture, the sugars fluoresce to a brilliant yellow.

Responsibility: The wearer should take responsibility. It is unreasonable to expect the cleaner to pre-treat and remove marks that are not visible before cleaning and they are too extensive for post-spotting.
Rectification: The cleaner wetcleaned the dress, with an extended main wash time to slowly soften and completely dissolve the sugar marks. The results delighted the owner.

Dyes could not survive simple water-based stain treatment
These expensive trousers had extensive staining from mud and beer (in equal quantities) over the knee area. The cleaner decided to dip the garment in a bath of water with a little neutral detergent for 30 minutes. This removed the staining but the dipped area was now slightly paler than the rest of the trousers.
Cause: Dipping was certainly the best way of tackling the drink and mud staining, given the size of this. Unfortunately, the dyes here were not quite up to this and the two-tone result is a direct consequence.
Responsibility: The maker is responsible here for not dyeing the trousers so as to permit simple stain removal, but this is not yet a standard requirement for "fitness for purpose" in a ‘"dry clean only" garment. The cleaner paid the claim in this instance.
Rectification: None.

Jacket’s fitness for purpose is questionable
: This jacket was stained with drink on both fronts so the cleaner decided to
pre-treat it with water and a water-based tannin remover. Testing both of these on an internal hem indicated that both water and the tannin remover were safe to use but applying water to the staining produced purple marks in the wetted areas.
Cause: Investigations found that the pocket fabric on the jacket bled purple dye when in contact with water. The fabric was only present in small areas but as the staining spread over the pockets in many places the dye lead caused extensive colour damage and ruined the garment.
Responsibility: The maker should take the blame. Although cleaners are normally held responsible for pre-treatment damage, that should not apply here. The damage has been caused by a faulty internal component and it is reasonable to assume that such components have been properly specified and correctly made. The cleaner has acted correctly and pre-tested the treatment. This garment’s fitness for purpose is questionable – it would not even withstand a rain shower.
Rectification: None.