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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Starch and Dress Shirts

When you drop off your dress shirts to be laundered, we always ask if you’d like them to be starched.  If you do, we separate them from those that aren’t going to receive starch, both batches are laundered according to specifications with the shirts receiving starch getting it through a separate cycle, then all shirts meet back up at the finishing department.  But what exactly is starch and what purpose does it serve?

Laundry starch is a vegetable byproduct that’s dried and then mixed with water to create a sticky liquid.  Shirts that are starched, if they are 100% cotton, keep their form longer and are less likely to develop wrinkles.  We specify 100% cotton because they are the only shirts that can be heavily starched; polyester, a man-made synthetic fiber, will not absorb or hold starch the way 100% cotton will.  Starch cannot bind with polyester fibers so you will never get a stiff shirt.

Of course, with everything there are both pros and cons and adding starch to shirts is no exception.

Pro - Starch adds a layer of protection to dress shirts, allowing them to better tolerate rubbing from other flat surfaces.

Con - Starch stiffens fibers, making shirts less flexible, so it lowers the shirt’s ability to withstand bending, twisting, and flexing.

Pro - Tensile strength is the measure of how well fabrics and fibers resist breaking under tension.  The Drycleaning & Laundry Institute conducted a study and found that shirts with medium starch and no starch had similar tensile strength.

Con - However, after being laundered 10 times, the tensile strength on no starch shirts was 29% higher than the shirts with heavy starch.  Heavy starch can decrease the tensile strength of fabrics by increasing its rigidity.

Pro - Starched shirts tend to stay whiter and brighter, maintain a crisper look, and resist staining.

Con – The main purpose of adding starch is to create a stiffness to the fabric; this in turn creates a problem with fiber flexibility, and this lack of flexibility causes the fabric to snap rather than give when strained.

When it comes to starch or no starch, we find that it comes down to personal preference; there’s no right or wrong answer here.  At Shores, we are proud of our Platinum Shirt Laundry and Silver Shirt Services Laundry services, and we know whatever you choose, you’ll be happy with the shirt results from Shores Fine Dry Cleaning.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Magnolias of Madison

Allison Drake opened Magnolias of Madison in March as sort of an homage to her late mother.  “My mom had a bridal boutique in Eden for 30 years,” Allison explained.  “She loved her dresses, so I opened Magnolias in her honor.”
Sadly, on May 31, flood waters ravaged her business.  “I had just moved the prom dress collection out of our space and moved in 30 new bridal gowns,” said Allison.  “When I arrived at the store after the rain, I was in shock and absolutely devastated.  My inventory was ruined, and I had no flood insurance.  Given our location, I never thought I’d need it.”  But because of storm drain issues, many businesses in Madison had to deal with the same sort of issues.

Instead of giving up, Allison did some research and decided to call Shores.  “I’d heard of Shores, especially the Winston-Salem location, and their great reputation,” Allison shared.  “Then I did some research, discovered their certification, and learned that they really do know what they are doing.” 

Allison began working with David King, the manager of our High Point location and our gown expert extraordinaire, and today she has a completely different outlook on things.  To date, David and his staff have restored and returned almost all the gowns, and Allison is looking forward to a grand re-opening at her new location, 101 West Academy Street in Madison, Labor Day weekend.  Their new location is a home, built in 1890, that is on the National Registry.  It boasts much more space than her prior location, has great visibility, and will allow Allison to showcase the gowns.  “I’m so grateful that I called Shores, and that they were willing to help,” shared Allison.  “Perhaps the silver lining in all of this is that we have a better location, and we got to work with some terrific people.”

Shores is equally as pleased with the results.  “It was a slow process,” said David, “but in the end, I’m so excited we were able to help her.”  To clean the gowns, David and his team, working on a couple dresses at a time, soaked the bottom two feet of each gown in a gentle cleansing solution, then one-by-one, they hand cleaned the bottom of each dress using the greatest of care.  “The results were amazing,” exclaimed Allison, “I think they look even better than they did before.”  Below are a few before and after photos so that you can see what a remarkable job David and his team did.



There’s a reason why folks like Allison call on Shores; since 1948, Shores has had reputation of providing quality and caring service to all their clientele.  To learn more about Shores, visit our website or check us out on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Under Arm Stains

You feel like you haven’t had the shirt very long or at least you haven’t worn it that many times before you notice that slight discoloration, sort of a yellowish hue, underneath the arms.  What is it?  Perspiration.  Actually, it is likely a combination of perspiration and anti-perspirant, and while that discoloring can form on other areas of your garments, it seems the most vulnerable area is under the arms.
Perspiration is made mostly of water, but it does contain trace amounts of minerals, lactic acid, and urea.  The content makeup varies from person to person, but it, along with the materials found in anti-perspirants, in conjunction with a concentrated area (like the underarm area of shirts) leads to build up over time and with age and the heat of finishing after cleaning, causes these materials to oxidize and turn the stain yellow.

What can you do to reduce the effects? Below are some suggestions.
  • Let your anti-perspiration or deodorant dry completely before dressing.
  • Wash or dry clean clothing as soon as possible after wearing; the quicker you address dirty garments, the more likely stains and spills can be removed.
  • Consider wearing underarm shields with your dress clothes.
  • Switch from anti-perspirant, which contains aluminum chlorohydrate that tends to clump in cotton and damage garments fibers, to deodorant. 
  • Try soaking clothing in cold water and dish soap, which contains de-greasers, immediately after wearing.
  • Finally, occasionally soak in a mild color-safe bleach.  Avoid using chlorine bleach as it will cause the optical brighteners to breakdown. 
Of course, Shores has been removing perspiration stains for years, and we’ll be happy to remove those nasty discolorations from your shirts.  Simply drop them by one of our three convenience locations.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Linen Fabric

Linen fabric is some of the oldest in the world with its history going back thousands of years.  It was so valuable that it was sometimes used as currency in ancient Egypt, and mummies were wrapped in it as a display of wealth.  Linen is made from the cellulose fibers that grow inside of the stalks of the flax plant, so one could really consider it a vegetable.  Flax can grow in various climates, but it does best in cool, damp environments, so planting depends on where it is being grown.  Once it’s planted, it lives for one growing season and is ready to be harvested in approximately 100 days.  After the stalks are harvested, they are allowed to dry out in the open air for several weeks before they go through various processes before finally making it to weaving.

Linen is a terrific fabric to wear during warmer weather because its porous texture allows air to move through the fabric, helping you feel cooler.  It can also absorb up to 20% of its weight in moisture before feeling damp, unlike cotton that gets heavy from perspiration.  Finally, it keeps its shape much better than other fabrics.  On the down side, it wrinkles – badly.  With all these benefits and only one (but a big one) drawback, how can you incorporate linen into your wardrobe while still looking crisp and sharp?
  • Avoid folding linen garments and instead hang them.
  • Don’t jam linen garments into an overstuffed closet.  Instead hang them in a closet with plenty of room. 
  • Linen garments aren’t the best to pack for vacation, but if you are set on taking one we suggest folding it carefully, packing it last, pulling it out of your suitcase as soon as you arrive, and iron the garment using a buffer cloth to avoid shine either while damp or using plenty of heat and steam.
  • Try using a clothes steamer to relax deep wrinkles.
  • Either hand wash linen garments or use the gentle cycle on your washing machine.
  • Don’t dry linen garments in the dryer.  Instead, lay flat on a towel to dry and gently pull the seams to properly shape and smooth. 
  • Remember, the more linen is worn and washed, the softer and more flexible it will be. 
But of course, if all of this seems like too much, Shores will be happy to take care of your linen garments for you.  Simply drop by one of our three locations, and we’ll take it from there.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wedding Gown Alterations

There is no such thing as the “perfect” wedding gown; that makes us sound like such pessimists, but the truth is that even the most beautiful of gowns needs a tuck here or a hem there.  So you have “the one”, and now what?  Here are a few tips to turn "the one" into "the perfect one":
  1. If you purchased your gown at a bridal salon, they will most likely provide alterations.  If that isn’t an option, be sure to do your due diligence and select a tailor or seamstress that specializes in bridal gowns. 
  2. Set up fittings with at least 2 and preferably 3 seamstresses before committing to one.  First, it will help you get a feel for pricing.  Second, you may connect better with one particular seamstress.  Third, you will learn something from each seamstress because they all view and tackle a gown differently.  Be sure to communicate your expectations clearly during your meetings.
  3. Wedding gown alterations should be finalized four weeks prior to your wedding date, so that means, given that most gowns require 2 – 4 fittings, you’ll need to begin moderate alterations roughly three months from your wedding date.  If your gown requires substantial alterations, then we recommend adding an additional month.
  4. Bring all undergarments, shoes, and accessories to every fitting.  This will ensure a proper fit and will also allow you to see your ensemble in its entirety. 
  5. Avoid bringing too many people to your fittings.  Obviously you’ll want to bring your mom, but it’s also a good idea to bring a trusted friend – one that will be honest but kind with their opinions.  Any more than that could create a chaotic atmosphere and lead to too many opinions. 
Of course, Shores offers wedding gown alterations, and we would be happy to assist you with your gown.  But whomever you choose, we want you to be happy with that selection, so if we can help by answering questions or offering advice, then please stop by one of our locations and talk to the manager.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Purse Restoration

I have friends that change purses for every occasion.  I think that’s simply too much work.  I don’t think of a purse as an accessory; to me, it’s more like a necessary tool.  It holds things that I need to function in everyday life – phone, keys, money, small notebooks (one for work and one for volunteer work), things Gray needs for school, Jolly Ranchers.  Basically my purse organizes my life.  So, I like to find an all-purpose, good-quality purse that I can use for pretty much any occasion, and when I find the right one, I hang onto it until it no longer conveys the nice, crisp, tidy image I’ve worked so hard to earn.

Recently, Brian sent me a text with some photos of a few purses he’d had restored.  My first question was, “When did you start doing that?”  In my head I was kicking myself for not asking him about the Michael Kors bag I recently donated because it was showing lots of wear.

Restoring leather and suede bags is not an easy process; it requires years of experience, the proper equipment, plenty of space, and sometimes many, many hours.  That’s where our friends at Arrow Fabricare Services based out of Kansas City, Missouri come in.  I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Susie, a third generation garment care expert.  Her family’s business has a fascinating story!  Her grandfather was an immigrant from Poland with expert tailoring skills, and he started the business in 1914.  When her dad came back from serving in the Air Force in 1945, he expanded the business into fine dry cleaning and leather cleaning.  In fact, her dad, at age 91, still comes into work every day.  Her brother now runs the business, and they started caring for handbags 10 years ago.  And just take a look at these results!

I asked how they performed such miracles, and of course, that’s a trade secret.  What she did tell me was that they have 5 different ways they clean leather, they use 3 different solutions, there’s a lot of hand cleaning and wet cleaning, most everything goes to a dye booth (that’s where the magic happens), there’s pressing involved, and their facility is 26,000 square feet.  I was curious as to whether there have been times when they couldn’t restore something.  “Oh sure,” she replied.  “There are times when things can be fixed, and there are other times when we can’t.”  She went on to tell me about a 1970’s leather bag with lacing they received.  The leather was as hard as a rock, and after evaluation they determined that it couldn’t be softened.  They told the customer there was nothing they could do.  “He said to throw it away,” Susie shared. “We will always give an honest answer.  If it’s not worth fixing, we’ll tell the customer.”  But then there was this $49,000 alligator bag that 3 people spent 10 hours on that came back looking brand new.

High-quality handbags are not meant to be carried one season and then replaced.  Your bag likely has unique features and characteristics that drew you to it, and to find something new that fits all your needs is difficult.  Why not let us take a look at your suede or leather purse, handbag, or briefcase to see if it can be revived so that it can continue to serve you faithfully?  Just drop by one of our three locations and let us take a look at it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Caring for Silk

According to Chinese legend, Empress Hsi Ling Shi, wife of Emperor Huang Ti, was the first person to accidentally discover silk for its ability to be woven as a fiber.  The story goes that one day, the empress was having tea under a mulberry tree, and a cocoon fell into her cup and began to unravel.  As she watched the threads, she discovered their source and then began cultivating silkworms and invented the reel and loom.

Today, silk is a soft, luxurious fabric that is versatile, practical, and durable.  Some benefits of silk garments include breathability, regulating body temperature, moisture wicking, doesn’t irritate your skin, no static cling, and can come in a variety of weights.  But with all its advantages, silk can sometimes be temperamental to care for.  Because of that, we’ve assembled a list of tips to help you keep your silk garments looking their best.
  • Always blot, never rub a spill – especially on silk.  Silk chafes easily.
  • Apply perfume, cologne, and hairspray before dressing to avoid color loss and staining. 
  • Make sure your deodorant is completely dry before putting on a silk garment.
  • Use great care when handling household cleaners (especially products containing bleach, alcohol, and chlorine) and products (like hand sanitizer, moisturizer, toothpaste, face cleansers, dish detergent) when wearing silk.  If left on silk untreated, it could lead to color loss or color distortion.
  • Never use bleach or products containing chlorine when cleaning silk.  They can permanently change the color.
  • Store silk garments in a dark area.  Prolonged exposure to sunlight or artificial light can cause the color to streak or fade.
  • Wash or clean all pieces of a matching ensemble at the same time so they continue to look uniform.
  • When it comes to cleaning silk garments, they respond well to dry cleaning.  Washing silk at home could cause shrinkage, chafing, and color loss.
  • But if you decide to care for your silk garments at home, we recommend that you follow the directions on the care label and check for colorfastness before cleaning.
If you are apprehensive about caring for your silk at home, our staff is trained to handle delicate garments, remove difficult stains, and solve problems.  Simply drop your silk garments off at any one of our three locations, and we’ll be happy to take care of it from there.