The risks of dye bleeding

1 July 2011

However, the risk of dye bleeds seems to be increasing and bleeds can occur unexpectedly in normal dark loads and in usually “safe” fabrics such as 100% polyester.

Where possible cleaners should avoid mixing dark shades with paler colours and consider carefully how to process dark garments that have white or light-coloured trims or panels.

The risk is greatest if dye from the solvent is picked up by textiles that have an affinity for the dye. If dye bleeds from a cotton item and discolours other cellulosics in the load such as linen or viscose, it may not flush out with a re-clean and may be impossible to remove completely.

Classifying garments well can be very difficult. A black dress with white collar and cuffs will often be cleaned in a “dark” or “medium” load as only a small part of the garment is white. If the black dye does bleed the white garments could be “catastrophically discoloured from the dye or from re-deposited soil." In that case, the cleaner is responsible for any discolouration and the customer has a legitimate claim for compensation if the problem cannot be rectified.

The cleaner has several options:

• Can the garment be washed? If so there should be no problem.

• Can the lighter components be removed before cleaning and processed separately? Cleaners may need to charge for this.

• The garment could be cleaned on its own or with a small load of similar items.

• Finally, cleaners do not have to accept the item but if they do they will be responsible for ensuring that the lighter parts are not discoloured or greyed.

Roger Cawood

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