European Finishing vs American Pressing.

Our philosophy is that in order to develop and maintain a successful business we need to constantly evaluate everything we do to serve you better and to provide you with a greater value. We evaluate our service, our quality, the value we offer, our process, the products we use, test new products, develop new techniques, and research new equipment. Often these efforts goes unnoticed  until something bad happens or you have someone else to compare it too.


On our quest to create the best value and service we can for our customers, we are transforming our finishing (pressing) to the European method. This requires a different set of machines with a different philosophy and technique.


What is the difference in the way American’s press their clothes and how the Europeans finish theirs? The name implies a lot, one is pressed with a hard press head and the other is finished with steam and an iron.


Americans, press the garments with heat and a hard press head. The amount of heat and the hardness of the press head will depend on the process. In Dry Cleaning, the heat comes only from steam and the press head is wrapped with cloth. Steam is used to relax the material and the press head smashes the material smooth while it cools. The result is a smooth material with the life smashed out of it, seams showing, fibers flatted. In the Laundry, the heat is hot, 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and the press heads are hard steel plates. This process melts buttons, some nylon materials, and plastic tabs as well as crush zippers and fibers. That works well for the military, but for a designer garment… ???


Europeans on the other hand, finish their garments with a little steam and a soft iron where necessary. They achieve this with a special mannequin shaped machine that blows a small amount of steam from the inside of the garment outward to relax the material, while the material is in a relaxed state from the steam, tension created from air pulls out the wrinkles and dries it smooth. Once it’s dried in this state, it stays in this state, SMOOTH.  This same technique is used in both Dry Cleaning and Laundry with different machines that vary in steam and air pressure.


This process will help extend the life of your garments. The exposure to extreme heat for short periods of time will not cause immediate damage, but over the life of the garment it will shorten it a bit. The European finish also leaves a softer, lively look and feel to the material. The garment will not have that smashed flat look where the seams and pocket indention show through to the outside. The hairs of the fiber will lay gently as opposed to being smashed down and flatted like a steam roller rolled over it, which it did in a sense.  Designer clothes are designed to drape and flow not hang like a sack. Over the years we created our own techniques to achieve this look with American pressing machines, but now we will be able to achieve even better results with the European system.


Which one is better? That depends on the end result you wish to achieve. My personal belief is that designers clothes should be finished and military clothes should be press.


We at Pacific Heights Cleaners are proudly leading the way in garment care today -  and into a healthy future.

A Certified Green Business in Marin County and the City and County of San Francisco.

Other Articles of Interest:

How to remove a Coffee Stain from Cotton.

How to Remove Milk Stains from Wool.

How to Remove an Oil Stain from Rayon.

How to Remove Red Wine from Silk


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