The care label dilemma

1 May 2011

For example, wedding gowns made of polyester often only carry circle P labels but these gowns are usually contaminated with waterborne soiling that does not respond well to drycleaning.

Wetcleaning or gentle, low temperature washing, using a suitable detergent that does not contain an optical brightening agent, is the only way of getting a satisfactory result. Experienced cleaners, particularly bridalwear specialists, often “cherry pick” items, which they know from experience will respond well, and use a wet process without consulting the customer or asking for a signed owner’s risk form.

Circle P and F care labels the indicate the use of a normal cycle with a maximum drying temperature of 60C. An underlined symbol indicates a gentle cycle with reduced mechanical action or cleaning time and 50C maximum drying temperature. Again, “overlabelling” is common on certain robust items that carry a circle P underlined when it would be perfectly safe to use a normal program.

This is frustrating for a cleaner that is trying to classify correctly while at the same time optimising machine loading and solvent usage. There is no straightforward answer other than experienced staff making an informed decision.

Note that some pure silk garments are underlabelled, as they frequently carry a circle P instruction. With silk and delicate items labelled in this way, the cleaner should always ignore the label and clean them using a delicate/reduced cycle with reduced drying temperature.

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