frequently asked questions

Q: Is there really an advantage to having comforters and blankets professionally cleaned over home laundering?

A: Yes. Professional cleaners have the ability to determine the best means of cleaning such items (dry cleaning versus laundering) to aid in maintaining the comforter or blanket's insulative and thermal qualities. If the item is dry-cleanable, it is exposed to less risk of shrinkage. Dry cleaning solvents cause less shrinkage than cleaning in water. Comforters and blankets that can be laundered still have an advantage when professionally cleaned, as the machines are much larger than home washing machines. Large items such as comforters can get cleaner in a commercial sized washer and have more room in a professional sized dryer to dry evenly, which promotes even distribution of the fill contained in the comforter.

Click here for more information about Comforter Care

Q: Why do some cleaners charge more to clean silk and rayon garments?

A: While some cleaners charge more to clean silk and rayon, O'Keefe Cleaners does not. Both silk and regular rayon are considered fragile fabrics. Both materials must be cleaned in smaller quantities and in careful combinations with other garments.  Our Dry Cleaning Technicians have the necessary training and experience to safely process your delicate fabrics.

Q: What determines whether a garment should by drycleaned or laundered?

A: All garments at O'Keefe Cleaners are cleaned according to the manufacturer's specifications. Federal laws require that all clothing manufacturers provide cleaning instructions, generally found on the tag at the back of the neck. Determining proper cleaning instructions is the responsibility of the manufacturer. These tags are supposed to provide information about the fabric from which the garment is made and special care instructions on how to clean it. Garments should either state "Dryclean Only" or "Launder" and list additional symbols that are understood by drycleaners worldwide. These symbols instruct the cleaner on special instructions such as type and temperature of solvent, cleaning times, drying and pressing instructions, etc. Misprinted or missing labels are often the culprits of a garment that is improperly cleaned and experiences damage.

Q: Why is drycleaning referred to as such if it uses a liquid?

A: Drycleaning is termed so because water is not the primary liquid used in the process. Garments are, however, fully submerged in a liquid. Solvents that contain little or no water are used in place of water to remove soil and stains from fabric. Detergent and sizing are added to solvents during the drycleaning process. Detergents aid in enhancing the cleaning performance of the solvents while sizing helps restore texture and shape in the garments. Solvents do not penetrate fibers in the way water does, thus reducing the risk of shrinkage, color bleeds and other cleaning hazards. The primary solvents utilized in drycleaning include perchloroethylene and petroleum-based solvents. Drycleaning solvent is not harmful to most fabrics and is the only method for cleaning many of today's fashions.  O'Keefe Cleaners uses petroleum-based solvents to provide our customers with high quality cleaning that is environmentally friendly. 

Q: Is it true that a brightener added in the production of certain materials can cause yellowing of white fabrics?

A: Manufacturers treat almost all white fabrics with an optical brightener to intensify the white appearance. Some of these brighteners are unstable and will yellow from age, heat and light (both natural and artificial). The heat used in the laundering process, both at home and a professional cleaners, can cause the breakdown of the optical brighteners. Use of chlorine bleach can also cause yellowing as well in certain fabrics, such as polyester blends. O'Keefe Cleaners uses only oxygen bleaches to avoid such problems. To minimize the potential for yellowing, never place white garments in direct sunlight or artificial light while being stored. Once these brighteners break down and the garment yellows, the yellowing is usually permanent. Yellowing occurs at an even faster rate when wet, thus drying white garments in the sun is not a wise choice.

Q: What causes buttons to break in the laundry?

A: Basically, the construction of the button and time are the two main reasons breakage occurs. Many buttons today are constructed of materials that do not handle the heat involved in home or professional laundering. They are often manufactured without the garment's care and cleaning processes in mind. As with fabrics, the manufacturer's care instructions are supposed to consider the buttons, trim, etc. in determining proper care suggestions. Time is another important factor. Over the course of time, buttons will become brittle and break merely from age, wear and tear.

Q: I've heard that the life of draperies can be prolonged by cleaning, Is that true and why?

A: That is absolutely true. Despite the lack of physical wear and tear on window treatments such as draperies and curtains, many factors contribute to the deterioration of fabric items that remain stationary. Sunlight is a prime culprit in the deterioration of window treatments. Just as the sun burns and draws moisture from our skin, it has a similar effect on fabrics. It can fade the colors and if left uncleaned for an extended period of time, can cause shredding during the cleaning process. While quality linings can protect against sunlight, other factors continue to damage draperies such as soot, smoke, dust and atmospheric impurities which are particles that contaminate even the cleanest of homes. They can cause such damage as yellowing and streaking. Window treatments will endure longer if cleaned at least every other year.  By the way, the life expectancy for lined draperies is five years.

Q: Are there such things as 'invisible' stains?

A: Crazy as it sounds, yes, there are. Hair sprays, gels and/or any other moist solutions containing impurities (like rain) which come into contact with clothing are often times the culprit of such stains. While the sprays, etc., are invisible when they fall upon the garment, they sometimes contain impurities that dry invisible but leave a staining residue. Age, exposure and the heat of drying after laundering, drycleaning or finishing can cause these stains to oxidize and become visible. A good example is a stain caused from white wine on a light colored, silk blouse. In the same way an apple turns brown after exposure to heat and air, the fruit-based wine stain, invisible upon occurrence, will brown when allowed to dry completely and is then exposed to heat (in the form of sunlight, body heat, or the heat involved in cleaning). Thus, it is common for such stains to show up after the cleaning process instead of before.

Q: Why has the color in my suit jacket faded and the pants have not? I have them cleaned at the same time.

A: Despite the fact that the suit is made from the exact same material, sometimes during manufacturing, one component may be cut from one bolt of material, and the other component's fabric cut from another. Because dyes are not 100% consistent in all types of fabrics, it is possible to end up with two different shades of the material after cleaning.

Q: Why do cleaners charge different fees for men's and women's shirts?

A: Difference in charges for shirts is not based on gender. Garments at O'Keefe Cleaners can be cleaned in one of two ways: drycleaned or laundered (according to manufacturer's label). Drycleaning and laundry are two separate processes that utilize different machines, materials and incur different costs. In the laundering process, there are two types of finishing (pressing) procedures: one utilizes automated pressing equipment and the other requires hand finishing. Laundered shirts are inspected to determine what type of finishing the shirt requires. Shirts that fit size and fabric criteria can be finished utilizing automated pressing equipment designed to finish shirts quicker and more efficiently than hand pressing. Shirts that do not fit within the criteria for utilizing the automated pressing equipment require hand finishing, a much more labor intensive and time consuming process. As in any service business, the time it takes to complete a project generally dictates the price. Therefore, because hand-finished shirts require more time to complete than those finished on machines, the cost is higher. Shirts that cannot be laundered are drycleaned. Because of the differences in equipment, materials and processes, drycleaning is generally a more costly means of cleaning (due to solvent and equipment prices) when compared to the laundering of shirts. The professionals at O'Keefe make decisions and determinations based on what will best clean garments in the safest manner with the least risk of damage.

Q: I had my feather pillows cleaned and when I got them back, they had a different cover on them, why?

A: When pillows are cleaned, the fill is removed, freshened and returned in a new, clean casing. Many times, additional fill (or feathers) is added to fluff and add thickness to pillows.

Q: Can jewelry damage garments during wear?

A: Undoubtedly, the answer is yes. Buttons, baubles, and timepieces can damage beautiful smooth satins, plush chenilles, or soft wools. The damage can usually be found along necklines or sleeve cuffs where a necklace or watch was worn. These accessories frequently have rough edges that rub and abrade the fabric. Damage may not become apparent until the item is cleaned.

Smooth satins are very susceptible to this type of abrasion. Many yarns float on the surface of the fabric, and the jewelry constantly rubs a local area. This weakens the yarn fibers, allowing them to shift or break during cleaning, resulting in a fuzzy or pilled and snagged surface.

Items made with soft, plush chenille yarn are easily snagged by jewelry or contact with any rough surface, including purse straps, bracelets, backpacks, and desks or chair arms. The chenille yarns snag and pull out from the weave. In very severe cases the short, fuzzy pile fibers fall out of the yarn, and only a sheer net of the base yarns remain.

Loosely-woven wool made from soft, low-twist yarns may show pilling along lower, front panels that may rub against a rough counter top. Pilling may also occur along the edge of the sleeve hem that has been abraded by a watchband.

Q: What causes button dye stains?

A: Button dye stains are caused when the dyes on a colored button bleed during cleaning or finishing, creating discolorations or stains on the adjacent fabric. Some dyes used on buttons are soluble in drycleaning solvents, due to being improperly set by the manufacturer. During cleaning, the dyes soften and stain the surrounding areas. In other cases, the dyes on the buttons hold up to drycleaning but bleed upon contact with moisture such as is found in steam finishing. Again, the fabric adjacent to the buttons becomes discolored or stained.