1: Become educated about the wet-cleaning process
The first step to a successful wet-cleaning program is to learn what the wet-cleaning process is and how it can have a positive effect on your business. Wet-Cleaning will help you greatly reduce your dependency on solvent based cleaning systems, and as you gain knowledge and confidence you will probably find yourself wet-cleaning more and more garments. There is a lot of very useful information available and if your chemical representative is knowledgeable in the wet-cleaning process he or she can be a great asset in your program’s development.
2: Understand your comfort level
Some cleaners go well beyond the traditional limits of wet-cleaning, to the point of wet-cleaning 100% of their garments. With the right equipment and chemistry this approach can work for the experienced wet-cleaner, but as you begin to develop your program, work with fabrics you are familar with and which you feel comfortable wet-cleaning. There are a wide range of cotton, linen and polyester garments which can safely be wet-cleaned; working with these fabrics allows you to safely learn the process, chemistry and equipment.
3: Educate your employees
There are two important aspects to this step, your processing team and your counter personnel. You will want to train your processing team in wet-cleaning chemistry, good fabric classification/evaluation techniques and a good understanding of the equipment they will be using. A qualified chemical representative will give you a wide range of programs for various garment classifications. Your cleaner should understand how and why these programs are effective and necessary. The cleaner should work closely with your chemical rep. to learn and fine tune your programs.
Depending on how much wet-cleaning you decide to do, your finishing department may require new tensioning equipment. This equipment will make your finishing department’s work easier and cut down on labor costs.
Your counter personnel are your direct contact to your customers, and as such are a very important part of your business. The proper training here is crucial. Your counter personnel need to understand care labels, fabric content, garment trim issues and be able to spot potential problems before the garments even get to the processing stage. More importantly, they need to know how to communicate with your customers in a professional manner. This could be the difference between an appreciative customer and a disaster.
The better your employees are trained to understand the wet-cleaning process, the more successful your program will be.
4: Choose the proper equipment and chemistry
There are a wide range of wet-cleaning machines on the market, all with various pros and cons. You need to decide what works best for your application. If you plan to do wet-cleaning and shirt laundry using the same machine, choose one that gives you wet-cleaning flexibility while still having the capability to handle the rigors of traditional laundry. Will you be cleaning comforters in this machine? Do you have an additional machine to handle the more traditional laundry? If this is the case, and you are looking for a wet-cleaning machine to add to your operation, choose one with the widest range of flexibility in programming and chemical injection options.
A key part of the equation in the wet-cleaning process is proper drying. Look for a moisture sensitive dryer if possible, this will allow you to control the residual moisture without over drying fabric.
One of the most important components of being successful in wet-cleaning is an experienced, qualified chemical representative. Ideally this person will be more than just a technician; they will have actual experience in the cleaning process. They should be capable of consulting with you on formulas, garment classification, proper procedures, work flow, garment finishing, and customer awareness of your new wet-cleaning program.
5: Educate your customers
Educating your customers about your garment care services should be an ongoing process. Wet-cleaning has many benefits and your customers should be made aware of your commitment to processing their garments in the best possible way. In addition to wet-cleaning “dry-cleanable” garments, many of today’s fabrics are manufactured to be processed on the wet-side. Also, as casual wear is now common place in many professional environments, educating your customers on the benefits of having these garments professionally cared for is crucial to your businesses’ success. Ask your Pariser representative for our Garment Care Guide pamphlets and have then available at the counter. If you have a website, post information about your wet-cleaning services with tips on garment care. Advertise that your business in committed to environmental stewardship, most customers will appreciate the fact that you are working to be more environmentally friendly.
The wet-cleaning process can be a challenging and rewarding experience. As our business evolves we need to educate ourselves and welcome the challenges ahead. Good Luck!