The disastrous floods that occurred in various parts of the country are leaving an impact on the drycleaning industry. Many cleaners have inquired about mold and mildew stain removal.
Microorganisms grow in humid or damp conditions with little on no air circulation. They can cause staining, fabric damage, and color loss. Cellulose fibers such as cotton, linen, ramie, and rayon are especially susceptible to mildew stains and eventual deterioration. Leather and natural rubber are excellent mediums for the growth of microorganisms. Silk and wool are less vulnerable to microbial growth.
When handling garments contaminated with mildew or flood water, wear gloves. With grossly contaminated items, also wear goggles and an organic respirator in order to avoid absorbing fungal hyphae through the skin, mucous membranes, or lungs.
Examine all items carefully for fiber degradation and color loss, and discuss potential problems with the customers.
Fortunately, mildew can be removed by wetcleaning and bleaching in an oxidizing bleach, especially chlorine bleach. These bleaches can be used on all fabrics except those made of silk or wool, or those that contain resin finishes. The bleach kills and decolorizes the mildew.
Dyed fabrics that cannot withstand the use of an oxidizing bleach may be improved by wetcleaning with a neutral synthetic detergent and ammonia, however the mildew will not be killed by this treatment.
Mildew becomes deeply ingrained in the pores of leather garments and usually cannot be removed. It can permanently stain the leather and may also affect dyes used on leather, causing a bleached-out effect.