Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions






What is dry Cleaning?

Traditional dry cleaning uses a chemical solvent to clean your clothes.  The process is similar to washing your clothes at home in the same sense that the solvent comes into the washing machine in place of water, a soap is add, the clothes tumble, extracted and dried all in the same unit.  The difference is that the machine is much larger, there is no rinse cycle and all the dirty solvent is filtered then reused.


What is "Organic" Dry Cleaning?

Unfortunately the manner that dry cleaners use the term "organic" is not the same manner that your grocery stores uses the term organic.  We think of organic as grown or raised naturally without pesticides, hormones, or toxins.  When dry cleaners use the term organic it mean they are using a dry cleaning solvent made from petroleum.  What!?...Yes, petroleum has all the carbon molecules needed to fit into the context as "organic."  Organic dry cleaning uses an hydrocarbon solvent manufactured by the large oil companies such as Exxon Mobil and Shell.  According to the San Francisco Department of Environment this solvent causes health side effects such as headaches, dizziness, anesthesia, drowsiness, unconsciousness and other central nervous system effects, including death.


What is GreenEarth Dry Cleaning?

GreenEarth is a proprietary name for the dry clean solvent Siloxane or D5. This solvent is composed from sand, a chlorine is used during the manufacturing that releases an harmful dioxin into the atmosphere.  In an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study the Siloxane D5 solvent caused uterine tumors in lab animals. There is evidence to suggest that Siloxane D5 migrates to fat cells causing storage build up with long term exposure.  Alternatively, lab rats exposed to Siloxane D5 had an increase in liver weight as well as liver disorders.  The Canadian Government has called Siloxane D5 "very toxic material" and classified it as "persistent, bio accumulative and inherently toxic to aquatic organisms" (reported by Environment Canada, Existing Substances Division).


Does certified green dry cleaning cost more than traditional dry cleaning?

No, the process itself does cost more to operate than solvent dry cleaning.  Being green is more labor intensive and the products cost more, however, that is offset by eliminating the cost of solvent permits, hazardous waste permits, toxic waste disposal, the constant testing for leakage associated with solvent use, record keeping and reporting of solvent usage, along with the use of more energy efficient machines associated with green cleaning.


Do you clean and preserve wedding gowns?

For over 40 years we have cleaned and preserved wedding gowns.  Over the years we worked with major stores such as Neiman Marcus to clean Vera Wang gowns. We also clean gowns for and receive referrals from wedding gown boutiques likes Grace-Couture Bridal Collections.  Our museum quality certified green dry clean system is perfect for cleaning and preserving wedding gown memories to last a lifetime.


How do I remove a stain?

That's a simple question that is difficult to answer.  A lot comes into play with stain removal; is the garment colorfast, how long has the stain been on the garment, what type of stain is it, what type of material is the stain on, are you wearing the garment, how is the garment constructed.  I hate to sound vague and not advise you on how to remove a stain.  However, your answer to these questions will guide my response to the type of technique to use.

Generally speaking, it is easier to remove a liquid stain (coffee, wine, tea, soda, juice, milk, paint, glue, blood) while it is still wet.  Once that stain has dried it is a completely different problem.

Let's assume you are away from home and you spill something on the garment that you are wearing, the simplest and safest technique to remove any resulting stain is to place a dry white paper towel (napkin) behind the stain and blot the front of the stain with a white wet paper towel (napkin).  The water from the wet paper towel will force the liquid stain through the weave of the fabric onto the backing paper towel as you apply pressure from the blotting.  Use a white paper towel for two reasons;

1) color paper towels (napkins) will often bleed in color when wet causing you to permanently dye your garment from the color transferring from the paper towel to your garment,
2) you can check the white paper towel for color transfer from your garment to the paper towel.
Do not continue if there is color transfer, removing dye from a garment is irreversible damages.  You may need to blot several times to completely remove the stain.  Finish up by blotting the wet area with a dry white paper towel to remove excess moisture.  Never rub the fabric as rubbing will remove dye.

On our blog site www.YourGreenDryCleaner.com there are thousands of detailed stain removal tips, stain removal techniques and garment care advice.  Or email me with a specific question.


Why are some stains not removable?

When evaluating a garment for cleaning or stain removal many factors come into the equation.  The material is one, how it is assembled is another, the type of dye and dye process is extremely important, the age of the stain or age of the garment plays a role, the type of finish on the garment is a limiting factor, and even the amount of dirt or stains add to the difficulty of the stain removal and cleaning of a garment.  Often times a stain is not removable because one of these factors is limiting us from working on removing the stain.  When a stain is not removed or a garment does not clean well we often ask for permission to work on the garment more aggressively, however, this may cause damage to the dye, finish, and overall appearance of the garment.  When a garment is returned to you be assured that we have done our best without taking excess risk of damage.


What is the expected life of a garment?

Many factors go into determining the life span of any particular garment.  How often you wear it, how often you clean it, and the material it's made from all play a role in its longevity.

The International Fabricare Institute (IFI) has a schedule for depreciation of garments: Undergarments, Socks, and Ties only have a life expectancy of a little over a year - Shirts, Jackets, Dresses, and Slacks are next with a life expectancy of a little over two years - Suits, Overcoats, and Sweaters at a little over three year - Household items such as Blankets, Comforters, and Bedspreads have the longest longevity at more than five years.  However, ask a Fashionista's and the answer will be: only one season.  Ask a Diva and the answer may be: one event.


Does dry cleaning or laundering my clothes shorten the life of the garment?

Yes, however, not cleaning or laundering your clothes will also shorten its life.  How can that be, you ask.  When you clean your clothes the agitation from the tumbling in the machine causes wear on the material.  On the other hand, not cleaning your clothes allows the dust, dirt, and body oils to deteriorate the color and the material as well.  Occasionally cleaning your clothes is your best option. Occasional for me is one shirt a day due to my deodorant and body oils , two days for a pair of pants, a week for an outer layer jacket, a week for my sheets, three to six months for my comforter and blankets.  FYI: always use a duvet cover with your comforter to prolong its life and clean it as often as your sheets.


Why do my buttons break when I dry clean my clothes?

Traditional laundries use hot steel plates to press a laundry shirt smooth, these 300 degree plates overheat the buttons which become pliable and break from the heat.

Our European Shirt Finishing Unit blows a shirt smooth as oppose to hard pressing it, this has eliminated the problem.  By not applying excess heat, this unit is better for the buttons as well as extends the life of the shirt.


Why do my buttons break on my laundered shirts?

Traditional laundries use hot steel plates to press a laundered shirt smooth, these 300 degree plates over heat the buttons which become pliable and break from the heat.

Our European Shirt Finishing Unit blows a shirt smooth as oppose to hard pressing it, this has eliminated the problem. By not applying excess heat, our method not only reduces the incident of breaking buttons but also extends the life of the shirt.


Do you do alterations?

Yes, we have a tailor on staff to handle all your alteration needs.

Don't get frustrated when you cannot find something to fit off the rack.  There is no such thing as a standard size, we are all individual humans with different needs. We can easily adjust the garment to fit you perfectly.

Other times a small tweak of an outfit out of the closet will drastically change the look and feel.  Come in for a consultation with our tailor, we will provide you with an estimate, free of charge and no sales pressure.  We are here to serve your needs.


Can you repair my favorite jeans?

Absolutely! We have been repairing jeans from the first day we opened our doors more than 40 years ago.  We have experience fixing a variety of things, from patching a knee, to changing a zipper, or sewing a seam, even changing a set of buttons, sewing on a snap, or mending a moth hole in a sweater.  It is all in a day's work.

Simply bring in what you need fixed and we will come up with a solution and an estimate. No pressure...ever!


Why does the hem of my pant always fall out?

Blind hems such as those found on suit pants, dresses, and skirts are stitched on a blind stitch machine using nylon thread that is similar to fishing line.  This type of a stitch forms a loop and will unravel when you pull on the correct thread.  This along with the fact that it is not knotted and the use of a nylon thread makes it a slippery situation.  A little agitation, a tug here and there as you walk, and there you have it, your hem just came out.


What dry clean systems are certified green by the Bay Area Green Business Program and the San Francisco Department of Environment?

Don't be fooled by false claims, only the Wet Clean and Carbon Dioxide (C02) systems are currently recognized by these government agencies as non toxic for our health and our environment.  If a dry cleaner in the San Francisco Bay Area does not have a certification then they are not using one of these systems solely.   If they use one of these system in conjunction with a solvent dry clean system they will not receive certification.


Is dry cleaning a hazard to my health or the environment?

Perchloroethylene (PERC) is the most commonly used dry clean solvent.  It is classified by the State of California as a carcinogen and it contaminates ground water.   Currently it is being phased out starting in 2010 with completion by 2025. All the alternative solvents are not classified as a carcinogen, however, they do have restrictions to their use and disposal.

The most common alternative solvents are petroleum based (hydrocarbon) and SiloxaneD5 (GreenEarth) based solvents, both of then must be reused and the residuals (lint, dirt, soap) must be disposed of as hazardous waste.


How is the non toxic Wet Cleaning different than traditional dry clean?

Wet Clean is essentially cleaning dry clean garments with water as the base for the cleaning solution along with a special soap, condition and computer controlled machines.  Similar to washing your clothes at home, all the cleaning and rinse cycle solution is disposed of down the drain. There is no toxic waste created with none of the dirty cleaning solution being reused.


Does the non toxic Wet Clean system clean as well as dry clean?

Yes, as a matter of fact it cleans better.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a study concluding that there is considerably more dirt and stains that are water soluble than solvent soluble.  So the Wet Clean naturally cleans better without artificially adding moisture as with solvent dry cleaning.


Can you clean the stuffed animal from my youth so my baby can use it again?

Most defiantly!  We clean all types of stuff animals large and small on a regular basis.  With our certified green system and hypoallergenic products your stuffed animal will not be exposed to chemicals that may be harmful to your child.  Your child's safety is our first priority.


Are certain materials more difficult to clean?

The material itself usually is not the problem with a difficult to clean garment. Often it is the dye or dye process used on the garment or the finish applied to the surface of the garment that causes a problem.  Other times applications such as beading or sequins make a garment difficult to handle.


Why does my white garments turn yellow or gray in dry cleaning?

Many of us don't realize that there is only a wash cycle and no rinse what so ever when using a dry cleaning solvent and that the dry cleaning solvent must be reused due to cost and toxicity.  The only way to purify the solvent is to distill it which take time and an added expense.  The design of the solvent dry clean system is to reuse the dry cleaning solvent multiple time before distillation.  The yellowing or graying comes from re deposition of dirt and dye from other garments. YUCK!!!!

One of the many benefits with the Wet Clean system is the wash and rinse solution is disposed of down the drain which allows us to create a new clean solution in each cycle of the load.


What is the purpose of cleaning matching garments together?

Theoretically one should always wear and clean matching garments together to keep the color, finish, and texture as similar as possible.  Exposing one garment to sun, dust, body oils, and road dirt but not the other will cause increased color deterioration of that garment.  Constant rubbing in the underarms, pocket area, and seat from wearing a garment will cause finish and texture deterioration.

In the case of men's suits the blazer and trouser are cut from the same lot of material to ensure a matching dye, finish, and texture.  Unfortunately many if not all women's suits are miss matched from the manufacture, so they are from different dye lots and different material spools.  This creates a much greater chance that as the garment ages, the finish, the texture of the material as well as the color will vary.


Do you separate the garments by colors with your wash and fold service?

Absolutely!  We pride ourselves on the quality, service, and value we provide you. Your garments are separated by color before washing and drying, then your order is folded and reassembled ready to be put away in your closet.


Do you clean on site?

All of our green dry cleaning and green laundry is done in our centralized Sausalito site so that we can maximize efficiency along with better control quality.


Do you clean things other than clothes?

With over 40 years of experience in working with textiles we have the knowledge to clean a variety of items ranging from stuffed animals to luggage, we have cleaned purses and hats, chairs and couch cushions along with the covers.  Of course we can even clean a variety of clothes!  Come in to our store to see all the various designer suits, dresses, wedding gowns, comforters, blankets, sheets, and undergarments we clean on a regular basis.

Having said that, we are slightly more expensive than the average dry cleaner because we spend the extra time to provide you with quality and value.  We take the time to make sure your garment is as perfect as possible.  Removing a stain often takes time involving multiple steps and products, taking the time to pre treat problem areas allows us to clean with gentler product which extends the life of your garments, cleaning garments in smaller loads provide cleaner garments, hand ironing gives a softer look to the finish, foam or shoulder guards on hangers eliminate bumps in the shoulder.

You may not notice when things are done correctly but you will notice when they are not. That's the difference!


Do you offer a free pickup and delivery service?

Yes, our valet service is free with a minimum order.  Call one of our locations near you to schedule service and for minimum order amount.  In most cases our minimum amount is twenty five dollars.


Do I need to be home to use the pickup and delivery service?

Not at all, we pick up and deliver to both your home and office.

In San Francisco many apartments buildings have doormen that will accept the transaction for you.  Other units have a code to enter the front door of the building but not your actual apartment.  In this situation we can pickup and deliver to the front door of your unit.  In homes with a front metal gate we can make the pickup and delivery there.

In Marin we can setup a safe pre designated area around your home such as the side of the house or back yard.

In either location simply leave the dirty clothes out in the laundry bag, we will be by to pick them up and deliver your freshly cleaned clothes back at the same time. However, if you wish to be home we can schedule a specific time frame that works for you.  Call one of our locations near you for details.


What is the turnaround time to have a garment cleaned?

Our standard turnaround time is three days.  This allows us time to work on stains and re clean a garment as necessary.  We take our time with each garment to ensure that your garments receive the best quality care possible.  If there is ever a need, we are able to clean your clothes in one or two days an extra charge may apply.  Same day service may encounter an extra charge.


What form of payment do you accept?

We accept all forms of payment from the major credit card companies such as MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover. We also accept ATM Cards, Debit Cards, Gift Cards, and of course cash in US dollars. We do not accept Travelers Checks and personal checks.