Why Things Go Wrong

Dry cleaning – or indeed, wet cleaning – is a service offered that is meant to prolong the life of your garment or soft-furnishing. However, within garments or furnishings such as curtains, there can be hidden surprises and sometimes things go wrong. This website has been set up to help you if you’ve suffered a problem when using the services of a UKFT member.*

There is a multitude of reasons why items that are cleaned via dry or wet cleaning can get damaged. To help you understand the process better and gain a better understanding of the risks involved with the after-care of garments, we've put together some case studies covering some of the most common situations.

Case Studies

Case Study 1

ISSUE: Colour Bleed

Item: Dress / Leather Jacket
Fault: The colour runs and redeposits on to other areas of the item.
Cause: Only the manufacturers can ensure colourfastness of an item of clothing. Colour run usually occurs if the dyeing procedures are substandard and if the production prototypes are not tested for care recommendations. Cleaner follows the care label instructions and one or more elements used in cleaning essentially breaks the dye-fabric bond. This causes the colour to set loose and redeposit onto other parts of the same garment. Mostly, the loose dye in itself does not cause much frustration to the customer. Redepositing of loose dye back on to other areas of that garment (especially contrasting colours make the damage very evident) make that item unusable.

Colour Bleed
Black and White colour transfer
Dye transfer
Fur Jacket transfer
Embroidery transfer
Embroidery transfer

Responsibility: Colour bleed cannot be foreseen by the cleaners. There is no step a cleaner could take to prevent this kind of damage from occurring. The garment maker is responsible for items of clothing damaged by colour bleed. Customer must bring this to the attention of the retailers as soon as possible. 

Case Study 2

ISSUE: Detachable Items such as hoods, belts

Fault: Furred hood was damaged as it was cleaned along with the jacket. Cause: A detachable hood with a material composition different to that of the jacket must be removed before cleaning. It needs to be treated as a different item depending on the care label instructions attached to the item or according to the expertise and experience of the cleaners. In this instance, however, the hood was left attached to the jacket. Because it was not manufactured to sustain that particular cleaning process, the texture and the appearance of the fur were permanently altered.

Detachable Hood

Responsibility: This is an obvious error of judgment on cleaner’s part. Subsequently, because the hood was not available for purchase separately, cleaner paid compensation to replace the jacket.

Case Study 3

ISSUE: Curtain Shrinkage

Fault: High quality cotton curtains shrank Cause: If cotton curtains shrink in drycleaning, it is usually not due to the cleaning processes. The minimal stretch set into these curtains by the manufacturer gets removed by the cleaning processes (mostly recommended by the maker). Always measure your curtains before handing in for cleaning. Use same measuring references post-cleaning, and if the difference is more than 3%, the customer should bring this to the attention of the curtain maker.

Curtain Shrinkage

Responsibility: The curtain maker is responsible for such degree of shrinkage. Neither the owner nor the cleaner can predict this.

Rectification: Usually, the cleaner tries to stretch the curtains back to the original size. Refinishing the curtains on a vertical curtain finishing machine can normally recover much of the relaxation. The curtains could regain some length as it suspends over time.

Case Study 4

ISSUE: Delamination

Fault: Bubbled appearance in one or more areas of the article, usually on jackets. Cause: Interfacing is a textile layer inserted into the unseen side of the garments to provide strength and structure to areas that would otherwise droop loosely. There are two main types of interfacing, fusible or sewn-in. The fusible method is by far the easiest and quickest to use and therefore widely used by most of the manufacturers. Manufacturers are required to ensure that the fusible method is done correctly and the fusing temperature at the time of manufacturing is required to be over 130oC as per international standards of manufacturing.  The dry-cleaning solvent wash stage is carried out cold. Depending on the care instructions, the tumble-drying temperature for a normal process is 60oC and iron finishing temperature is 110oC. On the other hand, if the fusing is done correctly, the adhesive bond should not fail during cleaning or finishing within the applicable limitations of the use of steam or milder mechanical action.


Responsibility: The liability of the damage can vary depending on care instructions and the processes followed by the cleaner. Our general observation is that delamination occurs due to manufacturing defect or substandard care labeling practices.

Case Study 5

ISSUE New but old!

Fault: Faded colour or damaged fabric that looks like normal wear and tear. However, the damage is inconsistent with its age and use. The item of clothing has failed to withstand recommended care processes and reasonable length of usage. Cause: An item of clothing should be returned to the manufacturer not only for obvious manufacturing defects but also for not sustaining recommended care instructions and reasonable usage. This is not applicable where garment abuse is clearly evident or if the cleaner failed to follow care label instructions appropriately. This type of damage generally seems consistent with normal wear and tear but should not happen considering its age and use.  Generally, this is due to inconsistent care labeling and lack of material quality.

Wear and tear
Wear and tear, before it's time

Responsibility: Manufacturers are required to conduct tests for care recommendations in appropriate solvents. Sometimes, the earliest prototypes are tested without due considerations for items added on later or the final product distributed in the market. Where there is no evidence of garment abuse or cleaner’s negligence, the manufacturer must consider the complaint and carefully assess their manufacturing and testing practices.