This #ProTip comes from Nashville Provider, Kurt Rutkowski
Oftentimes, clients have delicate items that require some sort of special processing. Although we ask clients to separate these items, the fact remains that they often don't.
For this reason, it's a good idea to have an idea of what items may be delicate and keep an eye out for them when you separate each client's bag(s) into load.
What items are (or may be) considered delicate?
items with metallic thread
items with beading
items with embroidery
knits & wool items
items made with silk or rayon
authentic sports jerseys
lace/ loose knits
If you're new to the laundry game, just know that, in time, you'll learn to distinguish these items just by touch. For now, it's best to be cautious and read the care tags whenever you're unsure!
It's always a good idea to remind your clients to do this in order to assure proper handling of their items. In fact, I like to remind my clients every time I send a confirmation email or text. For example...
"Hey So-n-So, Just wanted to confirm your laundry pickup tomorrow between 9am-10am. Please let me know if you need to reschedule to avoid the cancellation fee. If you have any items that need special processing or dry clean only items, please separate them so I'm able to process them accordingly. Thank you!"
If you receive any dry clean only items unexpectedly, be sure to contact the client before you begin processing that/ those particular items. This is the only way you can protect yourself from a potential complaint. At that point, send a quick text/ email to the client asking them how they prefer you to proceed For example...
"Hi So-n-So- I noticed the ____ item and the label indicates it is dry clean only. Would you like me to take return it to you 'as is' or hand wash it? I can also take it to the dry cleaner and return it with your other items. The fee for this additional service is $10 + the dry cleaning charges. Let me know as soon as possible so I can continue on schedule. Thank you!"
Products to Use
For best results, use a mild detergent such as Woolite or something similar and cold water. For a more DIY type detergent, use 3/4 cup of borax or baking soda. You can find several other recipes online if that what you prefer. I really find it useful to have actual Woolite on hand in my laundry product arsenal.
You could use a touch of liquid fabric softener with certain fabrics to relax the fibers and add a fresh scent. Just be careful. Read the tag or you can even google the fabric content to be certain you're using compatible products.
To process these items, use the delicate setting on your machine or simply wash by hand in the sink in cool water. If you're washing via machine, you may even want to use mesh wash bags (sometimes called lingerie or delicate bags) available at Walmart, Target, Amazon and even some grocery stores. Make sure they have a hidden zipper and use a separate mesh bag for each item. This helps minimize the agitation and spin of the machine and keeps items from potential snags. This is especially important for top loading machines with an agitator, but a smart measure with ALL machines, to be safe.
I recommend air drying or use the lowest setting on your dryer. Heavy fabrics or knits should lay flat on a towel to dry. Whereas most of the lighter, thin fabrics will dry better on hangers.
When in Doubt, READ the Label
Most delicates have very detailed instructions and recommendations available right on the tag.Take the time to read it. You'll save yourself a lot of trouble that way. If the tag, for whatever reason doesn't give you a clue, it's time to contact the client. Again, this just protects you, if something were to go wrong or if the client complains. You always want to do any "due diligence" on your end!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nashville, TN Laundry Care Provider, Kurt Rutkowski is a laundry industry expert with over 9 years of professional laundry experience. He specializes in efficiency and laundry processing with certifications in Lean Management and 6 Sigma, as well as accreditations from HLAC and PMI. Kurt is also a contributing writer and industry expert to America's Laundry News, Textile Rental Service magazine and The Green Guide of Louisville.