Frequently asked questions

Q. How should I decide which dry cleaner to use?

Professional dry cleaners are responsible individuals who care about their customer, the environment, and their employees.

Look for a cleaner who is part of professional associations.

Associations provide relevant information to their members about fashions and fabrics, the latest in equipment, laws and regulations pertaining to the garment care industry. Organizations like the Ontario Fabricare Association and the Drycleaners & Launderers Institute send out newsletters and trade magazines filled with important information to keep a good cleaner abreast of industry developments.

Look for a Certified Environmental cleaner.

Environmental rules and regulations are a prime concern to every professional dry cleaner. If a cleaner displays an OFA decal on the door or window, you know he/she is a Certified Environmental Cleaner.

Attention to detail is important.

Does the Dry Cleaner remove the stain without damaging the garment? Does he give an explanation if the stain is not removed? If you request special treatment (extra starch, etc.) are your wishes carried out? Professionals know you are the reason they are in business, and treat you accordingly.

Don't be dismayed by a request for a release form to be signed.

Care labels are sewn in garments by the manufacturer to provide information about fabric content and a suitable method for cleaning the garment. There are occasions when a cleaner will ask a customer to sign a release form. This may be due to a missing care label, or trim that is not covered by the information on the care label. The request reflects the care the cleaner is taking with your garment -- they've read the label, know what they're doing, but can't control situations that might arise from manufactured difficulties.

Look for a cleaner who is consistently doing a good job.

Garments are inspected before they are returned to the customers. There should be no damage to garments by stapling tags through fabric or labels. To prevent wrinkling, the correct number of garments and their accessories are placed in the same poly bag.

A good cleaner is a careful cleaner.

When no care label exists to determine a suitable cleaning method, a good cleaner will test the fabric on an unexposed seam or area of the item . The cleaner classifies every load by colour and material (a raincoat and a silk blouse would not be cleaned together). Sometimes this means you can't get a garment back in a couple of hours. But it does mean he/she is taking good care of it.

Cheaper isn't always better.

The biggest danger to clothes is a cleaner who tries to cut costs by cutting corners. Quality cleaners add soap and sizing to their solvent to enhance cleaning and give the clothes additional body. Be realistic in what you expect to be done for the price you are paying.

Customer service is important.

A professional dry cleaner will not make promises he/she cannot keep. If a problem does occur, they will work with you to find an equitable solution. Most dry cleaners will use an industry standard method such as the Dry Cleaners & Launderers Institute fair claims guide.

Q. Isn't dry cleaning bad for the environment?

As a proud member of the Ontario Fabricare Association, and a Certified Environmental Cleaner, Cotty's Cleaners is proud of our commitment to environmental protection. OFA works with federal and provincial levels of government to develop high standards for environmentally sound practices to protect our industry's employees, our neighbourhoods, and ultimately, our planet. Our industry must adhere to the joint federal and provincial Environmental Rules and Regulations and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, as well as waste management and occupational health and safety legislation.

The use of solvents in the dry cleaning process has always been a concern for customers and for industry professionals alike. The dry cleaning machine is sealed to prevent solvent from escaping. Solvent is filtered, distilled and recycled. The remaining “sludge” is then removed to a recycler using a provincially licensed carrier.

The Certified Environmental Cleaner program was designed to educate dry cleaners in environmental safety. All Ontario Fabricare Association (OFA) members are Certified Environmental Cleaners.

Some of these practices include ensuring that solvents are recaptured and re-used, and that hangers, plastic and dry cleaning paper are recycled. As a group, OFA members are committed to finding new ways to improve the process, to meet the concerns of their customers and doing their part to make our world a healthier place.


Q. How does drycleaning work?

The process commonly called “dry” cleaning is actually wet. Perchloroethylene (perc) is considered a non-aqueous solvent because it contains very little water.

Your Cotty's cleaner will sort your garments by type and degree of soling and will determine if pre-treatment is required. The garments are put in the machine and the dry cleaning solvent removes dirt, stains and oils from the clothes.

Once the “cleaning cycle” is completed, the “extract cycle” removes any excess solvent from the clothes. The solvent evaporates while inside the sealed system. When the clothes are removed from the dry cleaning machine you can expect them to be clean and fresh.

Garments are then professionally finished and returned to you in like-new condition.

Q. How do I read the care label on my clothes?

Care labels enable your dry cleaner to properly clean and finish your garment. It is important for consumers to realize that care labels are not required by law in Canada. The Canadian Care Labelling Program is a voluntary system of providing garment care instructions through the use of simple symbols. Though the law doesn't require a label, if a label is present, it is required to be accurate.

Although the program is voluntary, most reputable garment manufacturers will include care labels on their clothing. But be aware that if you purchase an item without a care label, the manufacturer has no liability for any damage that may occur when cleaning.
The Ontario Fabricare Association recommends that consumers only purchase garments with care labels attached.

When manufacturers use the Care Labelling System they must:

  • ensure that the label is capable of withstanding the recommended care procedures and remains legible and firmly attached for at least ten cleanings or throughout the life of the garment.
  • indicate at least one method of garment care, but they may, if they choose, provide additional care instructions.
  • be sure that the care procedure described works for all areas of the garment including trim, lace, buttons, beads, etc.

What are the Care Labelling Symbols?

The Canadian Care Labelling Program uses five basic symbols in three different colours. The colours of a traffic light (red, yellow and green) are used to signify the same ideas: red for "stop", yellow for "use caution", and green for "go".

wash image   represents washing.

bleach image is the symbol for bleaching.

dry image represents drying.

iron image is the pressing or ironing symbol.

dryclean image is the dry cleaning symbol.

Any symbol with a red cross through it is telling you to "stop" -- that method of cleaning will ruin your garment.

Temperature Markings

Different garments will need to be washed and finished at different temperatures. It's important for the consumer to understand that only your dry cleaner can provide all of the temperature settings required for washing and finishing

Washing temperatures are always indicated in Celsius, usually within the washing symbol on the care label. There are four maximum washing temperatures that are used, 300 C, 400 C, 500 C and 700 C.

Ironing temperatures can be indicated using temperatures in Celsius degrees, or with dots.

The dot symbols indicate:

One dot means 110 C,

Two dots mean 150 C,

Three dots mean 200 C

What should you do about labels?

Always check for a care label before purchasing any garment.

Keep the care label intact so you or your dry cleaner will know the manufacturer's recommended care instructions.

If you follow the care instructions and your garment is damaged, take it back to the retailer. If the retailer is unwilling to help you resolve the problem, contact the garment manufacturer.

Ask your Cotty's customer service provider any questions you might have about care labels.

Q. Will drycleaning damage my clothes?

Consumers have often expressed concerns about the impact of frequent dry cleaning on clothing. A study conducted by Dr. Manfred Wentz, chairman and professor of the department of clothing and textiles at the University of North Carolina has concluded that commercial cleaning methods do not change the properties of wool garments. So dry clean with confidence!

Q. Why do my dress shirts seem to wear out so quickly?

Shirts may be one of the most common items that a dry cleaner sees, but that doesn’t mean that all shirts are created equal. Indeed, with more tailored styles and new fabrics and fabric blends, shirts continue to pose a variety of challenges both for home cleaning and dry cleaning.

What to look for when purchasing a quality shirt:

  • Check buttonholes to see that they are finished well.
  • Look for even stitching around the edges of the collar.
  • Make shure that the points of the collar rest on the shirt when worn.
  • Examine buttons for quality and consistency in size. Better quality buttons like mother of pearl mean fewer problems with breakage or chipping. Buttons should not be brittle which would lead to cracking, shearing or chipping. Plastic buttons are more durable but tend to be of lower quality. Check to see that extra buttons come with the shirt.
  • Look for collars without excess materials underneath. This feature makes the shirt difficult to press, will cause fading and make the fabric shiny. Most cleaners will charge extra to hand press this type of garment.

Checklist for shirt care:

  • Allow antiperspirant to dry before putting on your shirt. Or use clear antiperspirant.
  • By wearing your shirts only once and then cleaning them you will reduce perspiration stains or weakening of the fibers.
  • Be sure to read the care labels and follow the care instructions described.
  • In case of spills and stains, always blot up excess fluid, never rub and consult a dry cleaner as soon as possible.
  • Always point out any stains to your dry cleaner when you bring them in for cleaning.

What you should know about your shirts:

  • The average life expectancy of a shirt is between 35 to 50 washings, which is about 2 years.
  • Some manufacturers use fiber-reactive dyes, which can cause pinstripes to disappear during laundering.
  • Some cotton-polyester wrinkle-free shirts use adhesives in the collars and cuffs. During dry cleaning, these adhesives can soften, causing stiffness and staining.
  • Interfacings in collars can shrink, resulting in a puckered look.
  • Adhesive used to fuse interfacing in collars and cuffs can soften during pressing, making these areas look shiny or mottled, or causing stiffness and staining.