Turn Up the Heat, The Value of Drycleaning in the Wake of the Coronavirus
Like many of you, reading the news about the coronavirus (COVID-19) has created a lot of uncertainty for me and my family. There are so many conflicting reports of people being infected and every time you turn around there is another event, school or business closing. It is hard to know what is safe and who you can trust.
In this post, I am not going to make promises of what we as dry cleaners can do to help protect you and your family. I can only present you with the facts as I know them and explain what my company, Yale Cleaners is doing to respond.
I am a third generation dry cleaner and have earned a certification from The Drycleaning and Laundry Institute as a Certified Garment Care Professional (CGCP). That education combined with my experience gives me a solid understanding of the science behind our craft. Over the last several days, I have reached out to many experts in our industry to dive deeper into the science of drycleaning.
I have spoken to the chemist that developed our detergents, the manufacture of our solvent filters, and the head instructor at The Drycleaning and Laundry Institute. From those discussions, my team and I have studied this issue in depth in order to find ways to keep serving our customers.
From various news reports, we know the virus can survive in the air for 3 or more hours. It can survive for 3 days on hard surfaces. At this point, we do not know with certainty how long it lives on clothing. However, the seasonal flu only survives for approximately 20 minutes.
So, in a typical drycleaning facility, there are three different cleaning processes; drycleaning, wet wash and laundry. For the purposes of this post, we will group wet wash and shirt laundry together because the science is very similar.
Harvard Health has stated that there is no evidence the COVID-19 can be transmitted from clothing to humans. The CDC has stated that the seasonal flu is killed at temperatures over 167 degrees. So, how can we use that knowledge and apply it to the dry cleaning process?
The drycleaning process involves cleaning garments in a solution other than water. Yale Cleaners uses a petroleum based solvent that will not kill the virus. However, much like your laundry at home, we still dry your clothing.
Our solvent reclaiming dryers normally operate at 160 degrees. This the recommended drying temperature to prevent damage such as shrinkage. However, this type of damage doesn’t usually happen until 180 degrees.
After our research, we have decided to turn up the heat!
For the foreseeable future, we have decided to set our drying temperatures to 169 degrees. Our drying cycle maintains those temperatures for over 25 minutes, which should kill the virus. Additionally, most clothes go through an additional steaming process which heats items to approximately 275 degrees.
While currently there are no studies proving this virus will be killed under these conditions, this is the proven industry standard for other flu strains. Moreover, it is the CDC’s recommended cleaning process.
On the laundry side, the combination of hot water and detergent is proven to effectually remove the virus, simular to washing your hands. As a company we only use a color safe bleach (peroxide) to further kill any bacteria or viruses. At home, you can also use a chlorine bleach. Additionally, garments cleaned using this process will be ironed from wet to dry on hot head at over 300 degrees. So, the virus should be completely neutralized after ironing.
At Yale Cleaners, we are also increasing the frequency we clean all hard surfaces and other touch points throughout the building. Our team members are encouraged stay home if they are sick, to wash their hands frequently, and use gloves and other safety measures if they have any concerns with a specific item.
At this time, our service IS recommended by the CDC to properly clean and disinfect your garments. It is the proven and safe choice. Moreover, Yale Cleaners is taking extra precautions to go above and beyond to protect both our team members and our customers. We are here to serve you throughout these unprecedented times.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 918-461-8612 ext 101.
John Rothrock, CGCP
John Rothrock, CGCP
John Rothrock is the President and CEO of Yale Cleaners, a local family business focused on providing high quality, same day dry cleaning with exceptional customer service. He earned a degree in Business Administration in 2005 from The University of Oklahoma. John is a graduate of the Drycleaning and Laundry Institute and is a Certified Professional Drycleaner (CPD), Certified Professional Wetcleaner (CPW), and a Certified Environmental Drycleaner (CED). Having all three of these certifications makes him a Certified Garment Care Professional (CGCP), a distinction held by few people in the dry cleaning industry.
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