If you work in fashion, you know too well how many things you need to consider across your operations. Garment cleaning, inventory and logistics are the less sparkly, yet critical parts of the business.
Garment cleaning is the backbone of operations for many fashion business models, such as fashion rental, resale, vintage and upcycling. Even for those fashion businesses that are outside the circular fashion space still require garment cleaning for returns or clothes getting dirty in fitting rooms. So, what are the benefits of outsourcing garment cleaning for fashion businesses?
Of course, the first thing is hygiene. According to the Textile Research Journal, one of the biggest factors preventing customers from purchasing second-hand clothing or fashion rental is the concern about cleanliness.
If we take charity or vintage shops as an example, the majority only have the capacity to use steamers to freshen up textiles. Whilst selected shops have washing machines in the backrooms and rely on the sales associates to sift through and wash the garments. This is not an efficient solution in the long term, especially for second-hand retailers or vintage boutiques operating on a bigger scale. A lot of businesses recognised the importance of quality cleaning, especially when reselling high-value designer items. Most of them would opt for dry cleaning as it’s commonly believed to be a safe and effective way to clean garments.
Unfortunately, dry cleaning is not safe nor an environmentally-friendly solution to garment care. Frankly, it is neither dry nor clean. Traditional dry cleaning involves soaking clothes in a solvent called Perchloroethylene ("Perc"), which is a known human carcinogen. Workers exposed to this chemical at dry cleaning facilities often suffer from chronic headaches, dizziness, and nausea and evidence to suggest that long-term exposure can cause miscarriages and leukemia. No one should have to be subjected to such environments, it’s bad enough that end-users are wearing these chemical soaked garments next to their skin. Perc has already been banned in France, Denmark and some US states due to safety concerns - don’t you think it's time for the UK to follow?
In recent years the industry has begun to see sustainable, tech-driven innovation. At Oxwash, we offer a far gentler, sustainable dry cleaning alternative - wet cleaning. Our process uses state-of-the-art technology to harness low temperatures, water and biodegradable detergents instead of polluting solvents. No harsh chemicals mean you, your garments and the planet are protected!
No two stains are created equally. Domestic washing machines do not have the same stain removal capabilities that can be achieved by outsourcing to an aftercare professional. Your typical at-home washing facilities use generic programmes and cycles that don’t take individual stain or fabric properties into account resulting in shrinkage, stains not being removed and a decrease in the brightness of your clothing. Another consideration would be the detergent being used. Many of the everyday brands you’ll have used or at least heard of contain enzymes. Whilst enzyme cleaning is effective, it is a common skin irritant and vastly degrades the fabrics fibres and in turn will greatly reduce the lifespan of garments.
At Oxwash, we are experts in sustainable dry cleaning alternatives. We use dynamic washing and drying systems to ensure each cycle is efficient and tailored to the fabric’s properties. This allows us to provide a high-quality cleaning, even on ‘dry-clean-only’ garments, without the use of harmful chemicals. Each garment is then hand-finished before going through our rigorous quality control checks.
Globally there has been a boom in fashion rental companies, new sustainable brands, upcycling projects and the rise of the pre-loved market. These are usually driven by the values of environmental protection and workers' rights.
However, sustainability is complex and complicated at times! One thing that is not talked about enough is how we care for garments post-purchase. Yet, this accounts for a third of a garment’s life cycle. Garment cleaning is essential for achieving sustainability and circularity in fashion. An industry research and activist group, Fashion Revolution conducted a study into the carbon footprint of a garment. They found that washing, drying, and ironing clothes produce around a quarter (!) of a garment's carbon footprint during its lifespan. One load of laundry releases 700,000 microplastic to the ocean!
With consumer emphasis on ESG credentials higher than ever, choosing a B Corp Certified cleaning platform for your garments shows your audience that you are making conscious business decisions and taking actionable steps towards a more sustainable future. Oxwash allows you to improve your business’s ESG credentials as our sustainable dry cleaning alternative saves water and CO2 with every wash, whilst filtering out mircoplastics from our water ecosystems.
When thinking about making the switch to a third-party garment cleaning service, it is understandable why you might question the pace of outsourced operations. At Oxwash, our standard turnaround is 48 hours, although a 24 hour turnaround is achievable depending on your volumes and the services required to meet your business needs. With our strategic locations and logistics fulfiled by e-cargo bikes and electric vans allowing quick collections and delivery, you can be sure to have garments and staff uniforms returned to you on time. We guarantee no losses, with help of our hyper-localised facilities and inventory systems.
Letting a professional company deal with your cleaning decreases the number of things you need to think about and manage. Allow yourself peace of mind that everything will be sorted… and cleaned and ironed!
Garment cleaning is not exclusive to those in the circular space or stock items, many high-end retailers and fashion houses require employees to wear uniforms that reflect their current collections. Regular shift patterns require regular cleaning and having to wash their uniforms is another task employees need to remember about. The delicate nature of the garments is also a factor as domestic washing machines are not built to deal with specialised fabric or embellishment and high-fashion garments are typically ‘dry clean only’. As a retail or operations manager, you know how important details such as an ironed spotless shirt are. You can alleviate yourself and employees of the stress of trying to manage this at home by using a quick and reliable laundry service. This will allow your staff to focus on what they do best and make sure their uniforms are always pristine.
As Oxwash expands we are able to provide a more holistic service and offer more than just garment cleaning. With the approaching launch of our new facility ‘Big Blue’ we will be able to offer inventory management, fulfilment and repair services. We have the ability to provide a bespoke service that is tailored to your specific business needs.
Outsourcing garment cleaning is cost effective for a variety of reasons; saving time, money and energy. Using a third-party cleaning platform will also prevent losing money due to damaging delicate garments due to insufficient aftercare and having to buy additional/replacement stock. It may come as a shock to know that many brands will simply send garments to landfill instead of cleaning/repairing dirty or damaged returns. This is not only a waste of resources and hard labour but the company's finances and worst of all extremely detrimental to the environment. Typical stains that appear after clothes have been tried on and returned are make-up or fake tan. These are so simple for professional garment cleaning services to remove, making throw-away culture unnecessary.
At Oxwash our commercial wet cleaning facilities allow for specialised cleaning at scale. Each item is treated individually for its own specific needs which is not achievable in a domestic laundry setting. As all garments are washed at low temperatures and suitably hand-finished with the utmost care their lifespan has the potential to be increased threefold, keeping them in circulation for much longer.
A huge factor when considering a third-party garment cleaning service is the support and communication you receive from them. Designated client support is essential, especially during busy periods when you are more likely to need to reschedule or be more flexible with your orders. At Oxwash we understand that great client support is critical and prioritise customer satisfaction throughout our processes. When you choose Oxwash as a partner you will receive your own dedicated account manager and have a direct line of communication with our general managers. We want to build authentic relationships, rather than just an automated service. We believe that human interactions lead to better communication and understanding of your business's individual needs.
If you want to start your journey with simple and high-quality Oxwash garment wet cleaning service, get in touch with us here.