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Dealing with Missing Buttons: What to Do When Your Shirts Come Back Without Buttons

Posted by David Whitehurst

buttonsDress shirts sent for professional cleaning are typically water-washed with soap, starched, and then pressed on a 3-part (collar/cuffs, sleeves and body) shirt steam/pressing machine. Shirt buttons can break while cleaning, when pressing, or just when trying to button your dress shirt.  While not a catastrophic event, it can be bothersome if you happen to be on a business trip and your important meeting is in an hour.

So, what to do? Here are a few things you can try both before and after your button’s gone missing at the cleaners.

  • There’s a possibility the button was missing before you dropped your shirts and blouses off at the dry cleaner. Take a quick look at your garments before leaving them at the cleaners and point this out to the attendant when dropping the off.  If you can't remember to do this, place a safety pin where the button belongs and that should get the dry cleaner's attention.
  • Top-notch dry cleaning services (including Champion Cleaners here in the Birmingham, Alabama area) will make the time to check for missing buttons before and after the dry cleaning process is completed, so only take your clothing to a reputable location. Though even the best service will occasionally miss one, you should use someone who makes the effort and replaces the missing buttons before returning the garment to you.
  • You can request that your cotton and cotton-blend shirts and blouses be dry cleaned rather than laundered. This leaves a softer feel on your shirts and blouses and is especially appropriate for delicate items. Shirt creases are not as sharp.  Expect to pay more for this option, as it requires more labor.
  • It’s possible the buttons come off because the thread is loose. Try sewing your buttons back on with professional grade thread or even dental floss, which is incredibly strong.  But make sure the thread color used is the same as for the rest of the buttons.

As for that button you need replaced for the meeting? Check the inside of the garment to make sure there isn’t a spare, usually on a side seam near the bottom of the shirt. Use your travel sewing kit or ask for one at the front desk. Those little kits usually include one or two buttons that will do in a pinch, and most people will not notice your buttons don’t match. You can also try taking a button from the part of the shirt that gets tucked in and move it to the visible location.

A good dry cleaning service will often replace your shirt buttons free of charge as part of their services. Some dry cleaners will even give you a discount on future dry cleaning services if you have to return for button replacement. Don’t be afraid to ask – reputable dry cleaners want to earn your trust and keep your business.

Why Dry Cleaning is Essential for Suits and Dress Clothes

Posted by David Whitehurst

800px-Dry_clean_rackKeeping your suits and dress clothes looking their best helps you look your best!  And the services of experienced professional dry cleaners really are the way to go.  Here’s why you shouldn’t skimp when it comes to your best clothes. 

Special clothes require special handling

Suits and dress clothes are usually made differently than your other clothes.  Specialty fabrics or trims, delicate lace, beadwork, sequins or decorative stitching all need to be handled with care or the garment can be ruined.  Certain types of buttons, buckles and decorative accents may need to be removed before cleaning.  Often the instructions are more complicated than simply “Dry Clean Only,” so finding a dry cleaner that can do it correctly is a must. 

There are many things that cause our clothing to become dirty.  Dust, dirt, air pollution and other minuscule particles can act like sandpaper against the fibers of your clothing, causing premature wear.  Delicate fabrics like silk and rayon are often easily damaged.  Taking your garments to the dry cleaners as soon as possible can help extend their life. This is not just a self-serving statement made by a dry cleaner to get more business. It is a fact of garment care that keeping your clothes clean will protect your investment.

Stains and odors

Dress clothes are often exposed to things like make-up, cologne, or food and drink.  All can create stains.  Additionally, strong odors like cigarette smoke or perspiration can leave your best clothes smelling unpleasant.  Dirt, spots, and odors that aren't dealt with properly and quickly can become permanent.  And attempting DIY stain removal on a garment that isn’t machine washable can be a disaster!  Take it to the dry cleaners immediately. 

Pressing services

No one wants to show up to work or a big event with a suit that looks like it was slept in!  After your garment has been professionally cleaned it will be pressed to make sure it looks great.  If you've ever thought of attempting this yourself, you may know suits can be difficult to press and easy to ruin with a regular iron.  And if you happen to need an extended waist size or extra-long jacket, it can be a downright cumbersome job.  Professional dry cleaners have the equipment and expertise necessary to make the finish of your garment look spectacular.  It will be neat and crisp and you won’t risk scorching your best suit. But don't have clothes pressed that have spills or stains as the heat will likely make the stain more difficult to remove, even by skilled, professional dry cleaners.

Most people put a lot of care into choosing their wardrobe.  High quality dress clothes can be expensive and it’s a good idea to protect your investment.  

5 Steps to Properly Caring For Your Dress Shirts

Posted by David Whitehurst

There’s no question that the best way to keep your dress shirts looking as clean and sharp as the day you bought them is to take them to your local dry cleaners to launder them. However, there may be times that you want to quickly wash them at home between cleanings. Here are the five steps that will help you when cleaning dress shirts yourself.

1.            Unbutton the shirt completely

First and foremost, make sure you unbutton everything – that includes all buttons, collars, and placket. This will ensure that your shirt is not damaged as it is washed.

2.            Pretreat any stains

If you’re washing your shirts because they’re stained, make sure you give said stains a little extra attention with detergent or use a stain removal pen.

3.            Stick to the delicate cycle in most cases

If your dress shirt is lightweight or fine, then use the delicate cycle. If it’s very dirty, or it’s made of heavy fabric, then you can use the regular cycle. Stick to hot water for cold shirts and cold water for dark shirts. Never mix colors in the same load.

4.            Promptly remove your shirts from the dryer

Once they’re pretreated you need to wash and spin dry them, and then remove them right away so any wrinkles don’t get worse. Hang them up or lay them out to air dry.

5.            Iron your shirts while they’re still damp

One of the key parts of ensuring your shirts look as close to possible as though they’ve been to the dry clean pros is to iron them. Don’t wait for them to completely air dry – do it while they’re still damp. If you can't let then air dry and you need to iron it right away, use your dryer on low heat. Just be sure not to over-dry the shirt – this will make wrinkles even harder to remove.

These five tips are a great start for cleaning dress shirts, but remember that the only way to make sure your shirts look like they’ve been to a dry clean professional is to take them there! 

How Often Should Dress Clothes be Dry Cleaned?

Posted by David Whitehurst

Have you ever wondered how often you should really visit the dry cleaners? If you’ve ever heard the old wives tale that it should be every three months, then you’re in for a surprise. The truth is that there is no specific amount of time after which you should dry clean your clothes. Instead, it depends on a number of factors – all of which we’ve outlined below.

Think about how your clothes are worn

The most important factor to consider is how you wear your clothes – not on how much time has passed since you’ve visited the dry cleaners. If you’ve worn a dress shirt more than once, then it’s time to have it cleaned. If you’ve worn a cocktail dress a single time, but it was in a smoky environment, then it’s likely time to visit the dry cleaners. If you wore that special silk blouse to an outdoor event when the temperature is above 80 degree F, the perspiration will need to me removed at the dry cleaner.

A simple rule of thumb is this: if it didn’t require dry cleaning, would it be time to throw it in the wash? If so, then it’s time to dry clean it.

Consider what your garment has been exposed to

Another important factor is what the garment has come into contact with. So it might be time to take you dress clothes to the dry cleaner if they are exposed to...

  • smoke and other strong odors, 
  • excessive rain, sleet, dust or salt

Don’t let spots turn into stains

Spills and other substances like food, grease, paint, and makeup may start out as a minor issue but they can quickly turn into stains if they’re not removed. After you wear any garment, take a close look at it. Even the slightest blemish should be addressed immediately to ensure it doesn’t go from a small problem to a permanent stain.

The bottom line is that a visit to the dry cleaners may cost you a little in the short term, but it can save you a lot in the long run when it means your clothing will stay in better shape for longer. However, don’t be fooled by stories that clothing needs to be dry cleaned after a certain period of time. You’re looking at how the clothing has been affected – not a time frame. 

3 Tips for Caring For Suits

Posted by David Whitehurst

Grey_and_navy_suit_on_mannequinA dress suit is probably the most expensive item in most people's wardrobes. However, with proper care and maintenance, your suit can last for many years. Protect your investment by following these three tips for caring for suits.

Tip 1: Brush it off between uses

Whenever you wear your suit, the fabric collects small particles of dirt and food. You might not be able to see them, but they can cause serious damage if left alone. Grit and grime will compromise the fibers, acting like sandpaper, over time. Food and other foreign substances can damage the fabric as they decompose or attract insects. This can lead to the discoloration, weakening, or tearing of the suit's fabric.

Fortunately, the solution is quick and easy. All you need is a suit brush with stiff bristles and about 30 seconds. Simply brush down the suit using short, brisk strokes to brush away dust and dirt. You can also do this quickly with your hand if you happen to spill food on your suit or get it dirty.

Be sure to remove spills gently. Blot the spill or use a spoon or table knife to remove the excess,  Don't rub it aggressively or you might damage the fabric.

It is important to note that a thorough brushing is not a substitute for having your suit dry cleaned. This is simply a measure to keep your suit in pristine condition between your regular cleanings. The dry cleaning process removes dirt, dust, oils, odors, and more that your brush leaves behind.

Tip 2: Maintain and store it properly

No matter how well you care for your suit, periodically you might encounter a small snag, like a loose button or ripped seam. While these may seem like minor, unnoticeable details, it is still important to care for these things before they become a major problem. The old saying about a "stitch in time" it still true today.

Whenever you are not wearing your suit, hang it in a closet on a wooden hanger. Leave plenty of room between the suit and other clothing to ensure that it has room to breathe. This helps the suit maintain its shape and stay wrinkle-free. If your suit is wet from rain or snow, let it sit out overnight so it will dry thoroughly before putting it in your closet.

Never store your suit in the plastic bags from your dry cleaner. These are to be used only during transporting. Fabric needs air circulating around and through the suit and plastic bags prevent air circulation when stored in your closet.

Tip 3: Take it to the dry cleaners regularly

So when should you should drop your suit off for a professional dry cleaning? It all depends on how often it is worn, the conditions to which it was exposed (like rain, dust, food spills, snow and salt, heat and perspiration), and how it was cared for between cleanings. There is no automatic answer to the frequency of cleaning.  Have it professionally dry cleaned when needed. Just be aware of the conditions resulting in the need to clean it.

At your local dry cleaners, the specialized dry-cleaning process is used to thoroughly clean and finish (press or steam) the suit without damaging the fabric. These results simply cannot be replicated inside your home.

If your suit gets dirty or has something spilled on it, take it to the dry cleaners immediately. The longer you wait to have your suit cleaned, the higher the risk of permanent stains.


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