One of the most difficult problems to explain to the consumer is the appearance of stains or discolorations that occur after a garment is stored at home. The dry cleaner, who cleaned the garment prior to it being stored, is usually blamed for the damage.
Moth damage is usually isolated to wool, fur, and leather since animal or protein substances act as food for the larvae. Other types of insects, such as beetles, fleas, lice, and roaches can damage both animal and plant fabrics. There are numerous varieties of insects that can plague the household. All insects excrete water and waste, which can stain fabrics. Insects lay eggs and excrete blood, which is yellow or greenish in color. These types of stains are usually very difficult to remove.
Sublimation of Dye
Sublimation of dye is a term used to describe the evaporation of a solid into a gas without passing through the liquid phase. Gases in the air dissolve certain dyes. Black, red, and blue dyes have a greater tendency to dissolve. In this gaseous state, the dye redeposits on another fabric (usually whites) as yellow stains or streaks.
Many fabrics including those made of animal, vegetable, and synthetic fibers are affected by a micro-organism a fungus growth referred to as mildew. The mildew stain can appear in many colors including tan, yellow, brown, pink, purple, and black. Warmth, dampness, and lack of fresh air combined with starch or sizing in a fabric present ideal condition for mildew growth.
Damage from Plastic Bags
The use of plastic bags creates poor conditions for garment storage. Plastic resins can combine with some finishes on fabric and produce “yellowing”. Plastic bags also have the ability to confine stagnant, warm air. Moisture present in the air can result in an acid condition that can stain and discolor fabrics.
Fume fading is a color change or color loss caused by the action of airborne gases found in varying degrees of concentration. These gases are more commonly the products of combustion when heated with wood, coal, gas, or oil. Frequently, a higher concentration of these gases exists in closets and drawers due to the lack of fresh air exchange. Darker colors will turn pink or red but not necessarily evenly. Sometimes fume fading occurs after the
garment has been hanging in a closet or after the dry cleaning or wet cleaning processes. In either case, there is no way to correct it. Discolorations may appear after drycleaning or pressing since the heat used in these processes accelerates the action of the gaseous chemical that has already attacked the dye. The dyes on silk and acetate fabrics are most affected by fume fading.
Exposure to artificial or natural light can cause the dyes in fabrics to fade or oxidize.
Examine garments carefully when accepting them for processing. Mildew emits a characteristic dank or damp odor. The customer should be notified. Observe for any fading, yellowing, or unusual staining. Fading can be readily observed by comparing the exposed area with an unexposed area. Check wool and wool blend fabrics for any staining or yarn weakness, which could indicate moth infestation. Beetle larvae attack all natural fibers including silk, wool, and cotton. As previously mentioned, roaches, fleas, lice, and mites are insects that may also damage fabrics.
Cleaners who promote box storage should first properly pre-spot the garments, then dry clean or wet clean them accordingly. The garment should never be stored without first cleaning it since staining substances and residual body odors can attract insects.
Many customers will improperly store garments and then blame the dry cleaner. Customers should be informed and educated that they should never put away clothes dirty. Garments should never be stored in a plastic bag. The bag the garment is in is for convenience and protection against soil. Garments should never be stored in damp or most areas and should also be kept away from light and heat.