Eastern Drycleaners' head office and factory is located at 129 Waltham Road in Sydenham (near the corner of Waltham and Brougham). We have around 100 agents throughout Christchurch so if you are looking for a location that is closer to you please call us on 03 379 4600 and one of our friendly team members will help you find the one nearest you.
Drycleaning is called "dry cleaning" not because it is dry but because it doesn't use water. However, drycleaning is done with a liquid solvent, so in effect the cleaning does get wet, but not with water. It's an important distinction.
Water penetrates the fibres of the fabric making them swell, causing felting and shrinkage with some fabrics. The solvent cleans each fibre without the swelling and so felting and shrinkage do not occur. Also, the cleaning is not normally immersed in the solvent as it is in the water of a washing machine. Instead the solvent circulates through the cleaning, and a series of giant filters remove any insoluble soil.
Clean solvent is used in every load. The average drycleaner's machines are probably about two metres high, two and a half metres long and from the front look somewhat like giant front-loading washing machines. Everything to be drycleaned has to fit in the machine.
In order to understand how dry cleaning works we first need to start with the kinds of solvents used in our industry. Until recently nearly all drycleaners use a solvent called perchloroethylene, or "perc". It looks just like water, but is nearly twice as heavy. It is somehow derived originally from coal and is a very effective cleaner.
However recently parts of Europe and the United States have made perc illegal because of its questionable toxicity. In response the dry cleaning industry has created new solvents called "hydrocarbons" which have evolved to become the gold standard of drycleaning.
The newer hydrocarbons are solvents that are made from modified alcohol which gives a superior clean, is a great stain remover and yet is so gentle on fabric that it can be used to clean even the most delicate of fabrics. It has no yucky chemical smell often associated with perc and it leaves fabrics with a great "touch", not stiff and itchy.
Before we clean anything, each garment is ticketed with a unique identifying code, so that your order can be reassembled correctly. Pockets are checked, as a loose pen or lipstick could cause a lot of damage to your and other people's garments. Everything we find, except obvious rubbish, is placed in a coin bag and fastened to the docket to be returned to you.
If you write a note regarding special attention required for your garment it is copied onto special drycleaners card and attached to the garment where the drycleaner will be sure to see it.
Shoulder pads of most women's garments are pinned in place to prevent them moving. The items are now ready for our drycleaner.
The first thing our drycleaner does is to sort the garments into dark and light colours. Then our drycleaner checks each garment for obvious stains or marks and reads any note attached to the garment and treats the stain or mark which has been drawn to his attention. Light garments, which are naturally prone to greater soiling, are given a thorough pre-drycleaning treatment, with particular attention to collars and cuffs. The best thing you can do for a stain before bringing it to us - is nothing. Attempting to clean a stain yourself can set it and make it harder for us to get it out.
We have spotting agents of all kinds that tackle most stains. We first try to identify what kind of protein(s) the stain consists of and consider what kind of fabric it is on. This determines the course of action we take and what spotting agents we use. Every type of stain, whether it be ink, blood, pollen, etc. requires a different spotting agent which we get from different suppliers. Each supply company might act as the New Zealand agent for two or three brands of of product, which they buy from the USA or Europe. We don't buy all our products from the one company. Experience has taught us that each brand often has one or two products which are superior to those of the other brands. We buy the ones we have found are best. Sometimes we keep a couple of brands of the same product, as we have found one brand might be more effective on one kind of fabric, but a different brand might be better on other fabrics.
Shoulder pads have always been a problem with dry cleaning: they can easily become twisted. Frequently they reach us in this state and we have to try and fix them up before we can even dry-clean the garment. In the past we used to put a safety pin into each pad, but this frequently proved in effective. Some time ago we began fastening the pads into place with two plastic tacks in each pad. We have found this to be vastly more effective and the number of problems has been dramatically reduced. Many people leave the tacks in place permanently and we would recommend this practice, except where you are wearing very delicate or sheer garments underneath. Some shoulder pads are attached with Velcro. It is a good idea to remove these ones before sending your garment in for cleaning. Finally, anything that looks delicate or fragile is placed in a net bag.
With garments that have shell buttons, each button is placed in its own little cover, to protect it from chipping during the drycleaning. The drycleaner then places the load in the machine. Our company operates both Italian and German machines which we bought new, and which perform to the high standards. They produce excellent results with both the most modern of man-made fibres as well as traditional fabrics. Drycleaning technology has changed a lot over the years and our machines utilise the modern technology required in Europe. This means that unlike older machines they have minimal effect on the environment.
Before starting the machine, the drycleaner adds 100-200 mls of what drycleaners call "soap" which is not really soap at all and it doesn't do any of the cleaning. What it does do is remove the static electricity in the garment, reduce the amount of lint and fluff that clings to each garment and most importantly the soap helps to prevent the formation of watermarks on areas of clothes which may have had some areas of dampness which the drycleaning process removes. The effectiveness of the soap is very important to the finish of the garment. Like the spotting agents, all our suppliers are agents for overseas brands and the different soaps all have their strengths. Experience has taught us which soap we think is best, although we do try new ones when they come out. The soap we currently use is the most expensive available, in fact we spend more on the soap than any other single item. We regard it as worth the cost to provide the very best for our clients.
Each cycle in the machine takes between 40 - 75 mimnutes. The machines have to be connected to 3-phase power, steam, compressed air and the water supply. After removal from the machine each garment is again inspected. Drycleaning takes out all the grease out of a stain, but the other components sometimes remain as a white area on the surface, which is removed with a little steam from a steam gun. Marks which have not come out are analysed and treated again, then put through for a second cleaning. The drycleaning process takes out all the grease or fat out of stains but the residue left behind will be a white powdery ash, which the drycleaner then removes in the spray down process after the items come out of the machine. The drycleaner does a final inspection the garments and then then it moves on the finishing department.
This is where the items are pressed, shaped and/ironed. A skilled presser is an artist. It can take as long to learn to be a skilled presser as to get a university degree and some people can never learn to press well. Our pressers are highly skilled and take great pride in making your favourite garments look great. Finally, under the watchful eye of our dispatcher, who is in charge of tracking and shipping orders, your garment receives its final inspection. If the item does not pass final inspection it goes back to the drycleaner for a reclean. If it passes it is bagged in biodegradable plastic to protect it from dust while our friendly driver returns it to you, or while it is in our shop waiting for you to collect.
Eastern Drycleaners has been serving Christchurch's drycleaning needs for over 60 years. It has passed through the hands of master drycleaners over the decades to ensure that the knowledge gained by our years of experience has not been lost. Eastern has always kept up to date with the latest technologies the industry has to offer and is currently the only drycleaner in Christchurch to be using modified alcohol.
“Thank you very much for the excellent job Eastern Drycleaners did of drycleaning the drapes for our guest rooms. Thank you also for the prompt delivery when we needed some drapes back at such short notice.”
Eastern Drycleaners have been done all our drycleaning. This includes formal wear, wedding and bridal gowns and bridesmaids gowns along with menswear: formal suits shirts and ties etc. We have found Eastern Drycleaners to be very helpful and professional in all their dealings with us.