How to read clothing care labels.

Doing laundry can be confusing and reading clothes care labels might seem like trying to understand the Greek alphabet. Here’s a breakdown of what the labels mean so you can give your clothes the TLC they need.

The Law

The Federal Trade Commision (FTC) Care Labeling Rule

  • Requires that manufacturers provide labels with complete instructions about regular care for the garment, or provide warnings if the garment cannot be cleaned without harm.
  • Tags must provide at least one safe cleaning method and be attached visibly and securely.

The wording isn’t required and symbols can be used instead. Symbols used in the United States can vary from those used in other countries. Be aware that the clothing’s fabric can be labeled correctly, but sometimes trims, buttons and sequins can be added after the fact and aren’t always addressed on the label.

How to Read

Most labels are divided into six categories: washing, bleaching, drying, ironing, dry cleaning, and warnings. Westbank Dry Cleaning can evaluate your dry cleanable garments and provide the best cleaning method available. Below is a chart for common clothing care labels and their meanings. Download it here.

clothes care symbol chart


There’s an App for That

For laundry at home, try the Laundry Day app for the iPhone. Simply scan a care label with your phone and once it recognizes the symbols tap the screen to bring up a detailed list of the symbols and what they mean. Download it for $1.39 on Itunes.

What If The Label Is Followed And Damage Occurs?

Remember, the care label instructions should apply to the entire garment. If you or your dry cleaner followed the care instructions on the label and damage occurred, return the garment to the store where you purchased it from and explain what happened. If the store won’t resolve the problem, ask for the manufacturer’s name and contact them. It’s also important to know that while sometimes damage can occur on the first cleaning, it can also occur on the third, fifth, or tenth. The garment should withstand the cleaning method regardless of its age.


How to remove grass stains from your favorite clothes.

Summer is almost gone! No matter what age you are, it’s time to enjoy all of your favorite outdoor activities and special events. Of course, when you’re spending more time outside playing a round of golf or dancing at an outdoor wedding, you’ll start to notice grass stains show up on some of your favorite clothes. Wedding dresses, golf shirts, and other favorite wardrobe pieces can easily get a grass stain through the course of the day. To help you keep them looking like new, here are a few tips to remove the grass stains.

For best results

If you want to keep your favorite clothes looking like new, then your best option is to go to a dry cleaner. Not only do they remove the stain using gentle yet effective cleaners, but they also utilize techniques that don’t require the fibers of the clothing to go under a lot of stress.

For at-home results

It’s very important that you understand the type of fabric that you’ll be cleaning. If you have grass stains on the bottom of your wedding dress or other clothes that you want to last, take them to a professional dry cleaner to ensure the integrity of the material remains intact.
You’ll begin by treating the stain with a pre-wash product or a natural vinegar and water mixture. Once applied, let this sit for about 15 minutes. Then, scrub with a rag or toothbrush and wash with similar fabrics. While this method may reduce the appearance of grass stains, it doesn’t get your clothes looking like new. If you scrub too hard or use the wrong products, it can do more damage than the grass stain, so be mindful throughout each step.
Visit us at for help with any of your professional dry cleaning needs.

Are rug cleaning tips.

  • Vacuum your area rugs just as often as you vacuum your carpet or sweep your hard floors. This eliminates dirt and grime that can ruin the rugs before you’ve even had a chance to really enjoy them. Be careful not to suck up any rug fringe with the vacuum as this could damage the fringe. Also note that some vacuum cleaners will have a rug setting, which basically stops the rollers from spinning and just uses the suction part of the vacuum to remove the dirt.
  • Brush out any hair. Whether it’s hair on a bathroom rug or pet hair on the living room area rug it’s possible (and even probable) that the vacuum will miss the hair. Brush in the same direction as the nap.
  • Rotate the area rugs a couple of times per year. Traffic and sunlight can add more stress on them which could wear out one side of the rug before the other.
  • If you have smaller rugs, take them out back and give them a good shake to remove the dirt and grime.

Specialty Care

Some area rugs require special care. Following the cleaning instructions on the tag of the rug is always your best option, but if your area rug doesn’t have instructions, you can follow these steps:

  • Fur or Sheepskin Area Rugs. Shake talcum powder onto the rug. Let it sit for a few hours. Brush it through the fur or hair and then take it out back and shake it out. If the fur is very long, you may need to repeat the process until you feel it is clean enough.
  • Braided Area Rugs. Put a blanket or towels down on concrete or a vinyl floor. Put the rug on top of the blanket. Using a commercial carpet cleaning solution, sponge it onto the rug and rub it in. Rinse the rug with water and place it on dry blankets or towels until it is completely dry.
  • Handmade or Antique Area Rugs. Place nylon screen over the rug. Using a vacuum attachment, vacuum over the screen. If you’re at all hesitant about cleaning your rug, talk with an antique dealer or the rug manufacturer (if possible) to get additional tips on how to properly care for your antique rug.

Deep Cleaning

Deep cleaning area rugs at least once a year is a good way to keep them in the best shape possible. When you make a list of things to do for spring cleaning, don’t forget to put the area rugs on the list. To deep clean the area rugs, first look for a care label. If it gives instructions on deep cleaning care, follow those directions. If not, follow these steps:

  1. Using a commercial cleaning product, test a small inconspicuous area of the rug to see if it is colorfast.
  2. Just like the specialty care for braided rugs, place the rug on a hard surface that can get wet and clean it with the commercial cleaning product, assuming it is safe for the fabric.
  3. Rinse the rug with clear water.
  4. Let the area rug dry thoroughly.
  5. Vacuum the rug.
  6. If the label says to get the rug dry cleaned, be sure to go that route so that you will not damage your rug trying to do it yourself.

How dry cleaning keeps clothes from shrinking.

There’s nothing like pulling your favorite shirt from the dryer only to discover that it’s a few sizes smaller than when it went in. Not only is this frustrating, but it can end up costing you money because it won’t be long before you replace all of these shrunken pieces of clothes. Whether your spouse is notorious for shrinking garments, or you try to prevent this common laundry faux pas from happening with no luck, there is an easier solution. Here we explore a few ways that dry cleaning can prevent your clothes from shrinking (once and for all!).

Dry cleaners are skilled at cleaning a variety of fabrics

While there are a few different factors that can result in clothing to shrink after the cleaning process, one essential aspect is how you handle the different fabrics. Even when you’re diligent about reading labels and following the directions to the letter, when the fabric is mishandled, it can lead to shrinkage. A dry cleaner is skilled at treating the many unique fibers and weaves of clothing material with care to ensure the integrity stays intact throughout the washing and drying process.

Your clothes are handled with the utmost care

There’s a good chance your favorite clothes react to the at-home temperatures they’re cleaned at. One misstep or wrong cycle setting can cause the fabric to shrink. Dry cleaners use the latest techniques to ensure that each piece of your laundry is washed with attention to detail.

Specific items need to avoid going into machines altogether because water is a primary culprit in causing fabrics to shrink. Rather than water, dry cleaners use particular solvents to clean and remove stains from the garment. The experts are diligent at separating clothing by material and colors to ensure each piece gets the attention it deserves.

Don’t take any more chances!

If you want to prevent your favorite wardrobe pieces from shrinking (and to extend their life), enlist a reputable dry cleaning service. At Old Dominion Cleaners, our specialists use friendly cleaning solutions that keep clothes from shrinking and leaves the colors vibrant.

What clothes should I not wash at home?

We can practically hear men and women across Richmond, Va. asking themselves this very question on a daily basis. Truth is, good dry cleaning doesn’t have to cost much, in terms of time or money—at least not if you use Old Dominion Cleaners—and it can save some precious items.

So, does the type of clothing you’re looking at actually require a trip to your favorite dry cleaner, or can you wash it at home? That’s best answered on a case-by-case basis, but here are a few things you should always bring to us for professional cleaning…

Anything Needing A Crisp Pressing

If you wear dress shirts or polos or cotton pants to work and you want to look professional, these items always look better after they’ve been cleaned and pressed professionally. We have the right equipment and powerful boilers to make sure your garments are pressed without a wrinkle to help you look your best.


Suits have the double distinction of being expensive and being made from delicate fabrics. You certainly wouldn’t want to run them through a home washing machine or expose them to water. So, in order to keep them looking great, fitting right, and feeling perfect, you should definitely have yours dry cleaned regularly.

Clothes Marked “Dry Clean Only”

This one might seem obvious, but we do see a lot of clothing items with these labels that have been damaged by washing machines and laundry detergents. If a manufacturer has specified a piece of clothing for dry cleaning, it’s usually because the fabric, dye, or accessories (like buttons and sequins) are particularly delicate.

Some Leather and Suede Items

Certain types of softer leather and suede can be easily damaged or scratched, making them good candidates for dry cleaning. And even finished leathers don’t always stand up well to water and harsh soaps, which can remove their protective coatings and cause them to deteriorate quickly. As a rule of thumb, if you aren’t sure how to clean something that’s made of leather or suede, or don’t have the right materials for the job, it’s better to bring it to us.

Heavily Stained Items

If you have a piece of clothing that you love, but that has been heavily stained with grease or something else that’s difficult to get out of the fabric, we might be able to help. Even if it is an item that isn’t normally brought into a dry cleaner, it might be worth having our specialists take a look to see what we can do. Often, we are able to restore treasured pieces of clothing to like-new condition because we have access to equipment and cleaning solutions most people don’t.

Clothing That’s Going to Be Stored

Wedding dresses, quilts, favorite Christmas sweaters, and other miscellaneous pieces can all be dry cleaned before storage. That will stop stains and dirt from setting in, and ensure that your item will be fresh and ready the next time you go looking for it.

If you’re ever unsure of whether or not to wash a delicate or special item at home, don’t take a chance. Give it to Old Dominion Cleaners, where we will make it look better and last longer. We’re happy to let you know how we can help!

5 tips for easy stain cleanup

The dry cleaning experts at Old Dominion Cleaners offer up some “first aid” tips to help you with those annoying stains that seem to pop up at the least convenient times and in the least convenient places. Ideally, if there is such a thing, your fabrics would become stained at home where you have easy access to the washing machine and your arsenal of cleaners and favorite home remedies but that’s not the way it always happens.

Stains arrive when you are at a fine restaurant, a fast food joint with the kids, at a friend’s house party, playing with the kids in a park, or any place where you have the potential to get scrapped or cut. At home or way there are easy tips to get rid of the most common stains.

5 Tips for Easy Stain Cleanup

Let’s talk about those common stains that visit the Greater Richmond Area families.

  1. Tomato based stains. Who hasn’t splashed a pasta sauce or dribbled ketchup from a burger? Depending on the consistency, blot or scape the sauce and then apply soda water using a damp cloth. If you are in dining establishment they will almost always have soda water. When you get home mix up lemon juice and cream of tartar, apply it to the stain and then wash.
  2. Blood stains. There are tons of home remedies for cleaning up blood but here’s a favorite of ours. Use an ice cube. Put a cloth under the stained area to soak up melted water and then place an ice cube directly on top of the blood. Let it sit for a minute o two then remove the cube. If there is a reddish tint left, rub it with the edge of the cube and it will go away.
  3. Food grease. Is fried chicken a favorite around your house? Do the kids tend to use their clothes rather than napkins to wipe their hands? Those grease stains don’t have to be a chore. Sprinkle cornstarch on them and let the powder soak up the grease. Brush the powder off then wash as normal.
  4. Ink stains. This is tough. Ink is a difficult stain to remove particularly with some common fabrics. Short of calling us and having the stain professionally treated, you can try soaking the area in rubbing alcohol and then blotting the stain with a clean cloth.
  5. Grass stains. Go outside but don’t get dirty…not going to happen. Grass stains show up on brand new shorts, jeans, uniforms and other rough and tumble apparel. The easy fix, toothpaste. Put a small amount of tooth paste (not gel) on the stain and then work it with an old tooth brush. Toothpaste is an abrasive. It’s kind of like mild sandpaper. The stain will mostly disappear and then wash as normal.

There are more tips of course but we hope these will help you with the most common. If you have a really stubborn stain or a stain on fine fabrics like silk or leather, call us today and we’ll pick up your order and sic our stain experts on the offending parts. Visit us at for more answers to freaquently asked dry cleaning questions.