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Textile Care and Maintenance Handling Fabric with the Right Approach

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Essentially, good textile care and maintenance help preserve the integrity and beauty of fabrics. This maximizes their usability and value over time. Keerthana Sundar, Special Correspondent, Clean India Journal, sought expert opinions on the complexities involved in textile care and maintenance from three enterprising women who run their laundry facilities in India.

MK Pooja, Co-Founder, Synergy Laundry, Jamshedpur

Late delivery of garments from laundries inspired me to get into the laundry & dry-cleaning business and streamline activities to ensure reasonable delivery time of laundered garments.” Challenges to dry cleaning Indian garments using the hydrocarbon dry cleaning machine stem from the machine being designed to handle European clothes. Fine-tuning the usage of the machine to suit diverse Indian garments plays a primary role in the smooth running of laundry operations. A variety of Indian garments do not come with appropriate care instructions and hence research into the basic care of diverse fabrics is crucial. Hence, it is important to take the following measures:

•     Educate consumers on the nature of their fabrics and the care required to maintain them for longevity.

•     Constantly update staff and oneself on the nature of different fabrics

•     Knowledge on how to launder them is important due to the ever-changing fashion landscape

•     Correct identification of stains, spot check of stains, running colour, etc. Constitute the triad of preliminary tests before garments are laundered

•     It is important for consumers to get stained garments laundered quickly before storing them for later use

•     Iron clothes inside out and under mild settings to avoid damage due to heat

•     Hanging clothes for drying spoils the structure of the garment. Compensation after damage to garments is a bane for the laundry industry as there are no regulations on the cap to pay the consumer

•     Finally, using eco-friendly products and recycling water judiciously during wash cycles paves the way towards maintaining sustainable operations.

•     It is prudent for a laundry service provider to inform consumers about the risk of any potential damages that might occur especially during fabric restoration.

Afaf Ansari, Founder of Indian Dry-Cleaning Company, South Delhi

The entire laundry process is carefully designed and curated to treat a particular garment. Some damages relating to fabric or dye quality occur, due to fading or bleeding of colour, and influenced by the quality of the garment, not the laundry process by itself.

Process faults that may occur include missing garments or a couple of oddly coloured garments being treated together. “Wear and tear of fabrics are uncommon in the laundry space due to use of advanced equipment, chemicals, and good staff training.”

Sustainability goals can be achieved through a pre-cleaning process where all the garments are examined for faults, stains, spots, and other irregularities that require special attention.

The pre-cleaning process involves manual and mechanical treatment, spot removal, or scrubbing, and attending to areas that need attention, including scrubbing, soaking, dry-brushing, or removal of dirt. Following a thorough pre-cleaning process ensures that most garments get cleaned well which includes the removal of sweat stains.

A couple of wash cycles are sufficient to ensure the garment is hygienically and thoroughly laundered. This ends up conserving a lot of water as professional laundry services take loads of garments for each cycle. Innovations ensure a decrease in water consumption per cycle.

Using eco-friendly products that are enzyme-based, biodegradable, and non-alkaline bleaches for white garments, retain the colour of the fabric. The kind (hard or soft) of water used play an important part in textile care. This is where smart machines have made laundry services more convenient and feasible for smooth functioning.

Jasmeet Kaur, Founder, Sweep Laundry Solutions, Jabalpur

Sorting fabrics based on weave, colour, texture, and processing them accordingly, followed by appropriate drying – air drying or tumble drying – can significantly impact the life of delicate fabrics. Steam ironing works well for most fabrics. Multicoloured garments like sarees are challenging as bleeding of colours may occur and damage the garment. The availability of various stain removers like protein stain removers for food stains and emulsifiers for oil stains help to clean garments effectively. Commercial laundry services result in high electricity bills which is a challenge.

Laundry services of shoes, bags, and jackets must be carefully handled. The sheen, polish, and texture of old fabrics can be maintained through fabric restoration as recycling of old fabrics is vastly gathering momentum.

Meticulous care and maintenance extend the lifespan of fabrics and reflect a deep appreciation for our possessions. Using innovative technologies and eco-friendly products reflect our commitment to energy conservation and sustainability.

Adopting strategies such as proper cleaning, timely repairs, and mindful handling can prolong the life of textiles. The journey toward textile longevity includes preserving the appearance of fabrics and forging a culture of sustainability through respect for resources. “We can leave a lasting imprint on our environment by embracing practices that result in waste reduction, saving money, and cherishing the quality of materials we use.”

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