Monthly Archives: March 2009

Green Rant — Is there really anything ‘organic’ about organic cleaning?

At the beginning of the year, I was interviewed by the New York Times for a piece on “Green” dry cleaning and the tricks less scrupulous dry cleaners can play on their customers.

I really can’t tell you how happy I am that this issue is getting some real attention.  Finally.

It’s been a sharp, painful thorn in my side for years now, the way that some cleaners will stick a sign in their window, picturing waterfalls and butterflies, with the word “ORGANIC” screaming across the photo.

I can’t be too clear on this: IT’S A SCAM.

The “organic” claim so many cleaners are more than happy to make these days is just a way to charge you more!

I’ve been in this business for decades.  I can say, unequivocally, that the “organic” methods these cleaners are using are not safer—for you or for the environment.  As the New York Times article points out, these “organic” and “green” claims dry cleaners make are NOT REGULATED AT ALL—by the government or anyone else.  Worse, they’re using the term “organic” in a “blatantly misleading way, not in the sense of a chemical-free peach, but in the chemistry-class sense of containing carbon.”

The cleaner highlighted in the Times’ article compares their CO2 cleaning method to “fizzy” sparkling water on their website.  Right.  They’re using Pellegrino to clean your Prada.  I challenge them to drink it.

What their website doesn’t tell you—but the Times article does—is that they’re not using CO2 to clean your clothes, they’re using propylene glycol ether.  The CO2 is just the rinse.  This is green washing at its worst.

By the reasoning some of these cleaners are using to label their trade “organic,” Exxon could start labeling their gasoline “organic,” and selling it to you at 25 percent markup from “regular” gasoline. Alan Spielvogel, the technical director of the cleaners’ association states, under this standard “I could clean garments with nuclear waste and I could call myself organic.” 

Nuclear waste.  “Organic” dry cleaning.

Look, I’ve been ranting about this for a while now.  I even set up a web site, addressing this very issue: What is Organic Cleaning? Why?  Because it’s important.  And because I believe in telling the truth.  There are safe, environmentally responsible ways to run a dry cleaning operation.  But none of them involve the word “organic.”  At Meurice, we’re committed to the safety of our employees and our customers.  And we operate an environmentally responsible facility.  It’s part of our Eco-Care PromiseWe also offer wet-cleaning as a completely solvent-free alternative, if that’s what you’re looking for.

 

We’ve done our homework on this.  We’re not interested in green washing anyone.

Don’t let yourself be fooled.  Inquire about your cleaner’s process.  It’s time to start demanding the truth.

Old is the New New

Another day, another government bailout.  The economic doom and gloom is pretty hard to stomach these days.  But we’re New Yorkers and we’ll make our way through this recession, just like we do everything else.  And we’ll do it with style, though it might just be last year’s.

There was a recent article by Shaila Dewan in the New York Times about The Great Recession’s trickle-up effect.  Dewan noted that even the well-heeled are getting thrifty.  As 2009 wears on, we might just find that the hottest styles are ones we’ve already worn.

Reusing older pieces is a great way to save money.  But putting older garments back into your wardrobe line up usually requires some refurbishing.  Whether buttons are missing, zippers are broken or hand-beading needs redoing, Meurice can help make your older garments look new again.  Our fool-proof whitening will remove yellowing and other signs of age.  We’ll even get rid of those nasty yellow underarm stains.  From alterations to restoration, we’ll make your classic pieces look brand new.

Go ahead, dig out some of your old favorites.   Bring them into one of our New York locations.  We’re on a mission to save your Missoni.  We’ll put the punch back into your Pucci.

So, head into Meurice for a wardrobe tune up.  Because this year, buying new is so last year.

 

Get the Leather Out ( Leather and Suede cleaning)

When I was a teenager I worked in my best friend’s father’s tannery in Newberry Port, MA.  I made pretty good money, too, enough to keep gas in my T-top Camero.  The job was intense, but I learned a lot as I worked my way through every part of the tanning process.  I started with the raw skins, worked my way through the business and ended up in the shipping room, where the aroma of brand new suede permeated everything. I never figured that I would have the opportunity to use the knowledge I gained that summer, but in the intervening decades, that knowledge has become invaluable.  I know leather and suede inside out—literally—a claim that not too many dry cleaners can make.

 

With proper care a suede or leather garment can last a lifetime.  Whether you have one leather jacket or a closet full, a little maintenance will go a long way, turning your seasonal splurge into a long term investment.

 

You wouldn’t believe some of the leather and suede casualties we see in our stores, some arriving via FedEx from across an ocean.  While it’s true that our garment care specialists can work something close to magic, there are also small steps you can take—no abracadabra required—that will go a long way in ensuring a long, beautiful life for your leather and suede garments.

    1. Have your leather and suede treated with a stain repellent before wearing.  Not only will your garment stay cleaner longer, but cleaning it when it does become soiled will be much easier.  (Does Meurice do stain repellent applications?  Of course we do!)
    2. Never attempt spot cleaning on a suede or leather garment.  Never.  Never!
    3. If you get caught in an unexpected downpour in your best leather trench, don’t panic.  Place the wet leather or suede on a sturdy hanger (No wire hangers, please!) and let it dry away from any heat source.  It might dry a bit stiff, but it will soften up with wear, or an air fluff (that’s NO HEAT) cycle in your dryer.
    4. Never, ever put an adhesive name tag on a suede or leather garment.  That sticky stuff and your suede just don’t work well together.
    5. Store your suedes and leathers where they are safe from extreme heat and humidity.  Also, never store them in plastic.  We always provide breathable storage bags for the leather and suede we handle.
    6. Never put away your leather or suede garments dirty!  For best results, get them cleaned as soon as they are soiled.


At Meurice, we routinely freshen up shearing coats, leathers and suedes by hand cleaning them, so that they remain soft and supple.  We’ve also been known to bring leather and suede back from the dead…in a matter of speaking.  Whether it’s freshening your leather or overhauling your suede, Meurice knows how to handle it.  Don’t forget, I’ve been doing this for a long time—long enough to wish that I hadn’t been in such a hurry to unload that Camero.

Meurice’s spotless drapery cleaning in New York

I’m always a little surprised when we’re called into someone’s home to remove and clean their draperies or curtains.  I’m surprised, not because people want these items professionally cleaned, but because of how infrequently people do it.

New York City is one of the greatest cities in the world, but it’s also one of the dirtiest.  Taxis, airplanes and jackhammers send tons of dirt and pollutants into the air daily, a significant measure of which will get past the best windows and filtration systems.

Where do you think all this grime settles?

Our window treatments collect dirt, soot and dust mites, among other things.  And yet people seem to only remember that these items need to be cleaned about as often as they repaint their apartments.

That just doesn’t cut it.

At Meurice, we recommend having these items professionally cleaned at least once every three years.  (My wife would never let me get away with less, and usually asks me to clean them more often than that.)

What can you do in between professional cleanings to keep your curtains and drapes looking fresh?  Vacuum them. That’s right, I said vacuum your curtains.  Using the upholstery attachment, or even the dusting brush (if it’s clean), you can easily vacuum off any surface dirt and grime.  My favorite vacuum for this—the Miele S7—actually has adjustable suction with a drapery setting.

At Meurice we offer on site cleaning of your drapes and curtains (your rugs and other upholstered items, too).  But if you want your window treatments truly, hygienically clean, let us remove them, take them to our plant and then come back and rehang them for you.  We’ll document everything with digital photography, to ensure we leave things as lovely as we found them—and cleaner!