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Dirty Laundry…..? By Barbara Geens »

Check out Barbara Geens recent blog January 2012

By Barbara Geens

Since my arrival in Australia in 2006 I had to refocus my career on quality assurance – the Australian way. I had worked throughout Asia following garment production on behalf of German and American clients, and care instructions generally consisted of five little symbols.

These little symbols are a mystery to most Australians, and when not sure what to do hand wash appears to be the care solution for garments produced for the Australian market. Confounded and asked to review my employer’s QA manual, I embarked on a search for answers. This journey has taken me to different places, I read a lot of interesting books and pamphlets and met industry peers that are on a similar quest to find answers and help Australian consumers to better understand garment care.

With a wave of delicate embroidered and highly embellished styles that our manufacturers claimed could neither be washed nor dry cleaned, my team and I were faced with a new challenge. A garment that could not be laundered would not only sell poorly, but also not meet Australian standard requirements. With wash trials failing, we decided to investigate dry clean options. And I discovered a professional group that I essentially had not considered as a customer of my professional work up to then.
We sent samples to different dry cleaners and took a tour through RMIT’s dry cleaning facility to better understand what options we could offer our customers. Through Nick Bancroft we discovered Russel Waddy and the team at GreenEarth® Cleaning. With GreenEarth, a solvent based on liquid silicone, we found a viable cleaning solution for our customers.

For me personally the encounter opened my eyes to an industry that is reliant on how well we at retail or manufacturing level do our work. As a result of the encounters, GreenEarth invited me as a guest speaker to their Australia & New Zealand Annual Affiliates’ Conference held in Adelaide in October ’11, to give dry cleaners an insight into the work of manufacturers and retailers. My presentation focussed on how a care label ends up in a garment, from product development, fabric, component and garment testing through to production. It gave me an understanding on how little dry cleaners understand production processes, but also how well they can deal with garments from their own experience. They can achieve amazing results, especially if a garment is well labelled. At the same time they can ruin a garment if the labelling is poor or misguiding – even with best intentions and years of experience up their sleeves.

With the ACLs in place, more emphasis is now being placed on product liability as well as avoiding misleading labelling or understating washability or dry clean ability of garments. The dry cleaners are calling for a closer cooperation with manufacturers and retailers, to ensure consumer satisfaction.

Working closely with a variety of stakeholders around the clothing and related industries some day we may help our customers to decipher the mystery of those 5 little symbols.

For more about Barbara Geens

For more information on ALC see: – Businesses and the ACL

See also: – GreenEarth Cleaning

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