Before We Clean
What we look for in your curtains, before we clean them
Fading will show in curtains through a change in colour usually in stripes running from the top of the curtain to the hem; however horizontal fading is also possible, this is known as sun fading. On a white or pale curtain it will have yellow discolouration to it. On some fabrics it could grey or the dye of the curtain could change to a different shade. Some colours are more sensitive to fading than others, for example a purple may change to pink as the blue pigment fades faster.
The discolouration will relate to where the sun hits the curtain directly and weather any shadows are cast by walls or the undulation of the folds when the curtains are drawn open. It is not only direct sunlight that causes fading reflected light or UV rays can also cause fading. Fading is a slow, progressive condition and is not always noticed prior to cleaning.
If your curtains have faded it is important to notice areas of fading prior to sending your curtains in to be cleaned, as often people only notice fading of this nature once the curtains have been cleaned. It is important to understand that the cleaning process won’t increase sun fading on your curtains. Your risk of cleaning sun faded curtains is that the fibres may have weakened to such an extent that they could tear in the cleaning process.
Immaculate always checks your curtains for fading and will bring to your attention any areas of concern, but please note not all weaknesses in the fabric caused from sun damage can be detected by the human eye.
There are many different methods of colouring fabrics .Where the yarn or fibre is dyed before being woven, the colour retention will be the greatest, and this also pertains to a pattern that is woven into the cloth. However many fabrics are either over dyed (i.e. dyed after the fibre has been woven into a fabric) or printed. In these two methods the colour sits on the surface and does not always penetrate the fibre completely. In fabrics that have been over dyed or vat dyed there can be loss of colour. In the case of printed fabrics you can get loss of colour from abrasion (rubbing) or colour run when cleaning.
A white or cream fabric often have a fluorescent optical brightener in the finish, which over time breaks down and is washed out in the cleaning process; this causes the fabric to appear to have greyed, a bit like your white underwear. In certain instances the fluorescent optical brightener can be refreshed to a degree if the fabric is washable and has been pre-shrunk; otherwise it is an unfortunate risk of white or cream curtains as they age.
You need to ensure the colour fastness of your curtains before cleaning to prevent colour loss or colour run.
Immaculate always tests colour fastness of all curtains to ensure minimum loss of colour.
One of the most difficult conditions possible to remove in cleaning a curtain, blind or drape is urine damage. Unfortunately urine can cause stains which can become permanent within minutes of contact. An attempt to clean urine stains can only be made on curtains that have been per-shrunk and can be washed in water and or if there is no risk of shrinkage or damage to the fibre. Even then there is no guarantee that the stain or discolouration can be removed.
Over time urine causes damage to the fibres and colours. The alkaline nature of urine alters the PH of the fibre and colours in the fabric which could result in colour run when cleaned, if it does not happen immediately. Because urine is water based it can also cause an alteration to the lustre of fibres like silk and velvet, which should not be cleaned with water.
Immaculate will identify urine stains on your curtains and do their best to clean them. The best preventative action would be to have your curtains, blinds and drapes treated with the fabric stain protector Immacguard, which will decrease the likelihood of a permanent stain, as it will allow the urine to run off before it is able to penetrate the fibre.
Water Marks on Curtains, Blinds and Drapes
Many curtains, blinds and drapes which we receive will have pre-existing water marks. Visible water marks are an indicator that the fabric might be delicate and we try to pre-test this on examination prior to cleaning. The reason for the fibres becoming delicate around a water mark is that there can be sulphur in the air due to cooking, central heating, fumes from car exhausts etc. These sulphur fumes are absorbed into the fabric and when water and humidity are present this sulphur turns into an acid which causes the fibres to weaken over time. The sulphur content is also the reason for the yellow or brown discolouration. Along this water mark line, will be the place where the fabric could tear.
The main causes of water marks:
- Living on the Highveld , we often have unexpected thunder storms , our windows are open and the rain gets on to our curtains in selected areas ,when we return home the storm has passed and we are unaware of the damage that has been caused . The wetted fabric dries out and leaves a water mark.
- Flood damage or cleaning of tiled floors. This is when you get a tied mark running horizontally across the curtain. Water has seeped up from the floor and dried in a line where it has reached.
- Lastly water marks left from bad previous cleaning and spotting.
The fibre content of the curtain fabric verses the lining
The fibre content of the various layers of your curtain, blind or drape may be different which will need to be taken into consideration when determining which cleaning process should be used. If the layers are not compatible from a cleaning perspective it is very important that the cleaning for the fibre that requires dry cleaning is followed. Testing for the fibre content of the fabrics in your curtains could prevent unnecessary shrinkage, colour loss or change of handle/feel of the fabric.