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What About My Boas?

Damaged feathers, leathers and other soft contents can be wet-washed to food-grade sanitation if you select the right restoration process.

April 04, 2011 Photo
David MacLean is president of the Certified Contents Restoration Network (CCRN). CCRN is a North American-wide network of restoration contractors certified in the operation of the patented Esporta Wash System for soft contents. www.RestoreDontReplace.com
The house was not like a museum—it was a museum. A tribute to 1960s Las Vegas. Mannequins sporting the owner's favorite outfits offered a visual spectacle of glamorous shows long since closed. Sequins, feathers, satin, silk and lace. Elaborately fashioned boas adorning all. Think Liberace. Think priceless.

The fire burned half the house before firefighters doused it. Although the stage-show collection wasn't burned, some of the sequins on the gowns were melted, and the smoke, soot and water damage was extensive. A settlement value would have to be established, but ascertaining the value for a payout on a total loss of the items was the least of the problems. The owner wanted restoration.

Giving Restoration a Shot
In most cases like this that involve heavy smoke and oily soot-damaged, highly sensitive fabrics, the articles would just be cashed out. In this case and others like it in which the owner wants to restore priceless keepsakes that have been damaged, the key is to clean, disinfect and restore the items to their pre-loss condition. With traditional cleaning techniques, it would be impossible in this circumstance.

Traditional cleaning techniques—which involve drying the articles slowly, ozoning them and then dry cleaning—would not yield favorable results. A fairly new, patented process completely eliminates the need for ozone by holding articles stationary and using hydraulic pressure and environmentally friendly detergents to force smoke, soot, bacteria, mold and other contaminants out of the items. Ninety-nine percent of contaminants were removed using this method in laboratory testing by Wondermakers Environmental. In addition, Dupont Test Labs has endorsed it, saying, "It successfully preserves the structural integrity of highly sensitive fabrics."

In the Las Vegas case, the adjuster gave the job to a member of a certified network which specializes in this cleaning method for such delicates. In the patented and proprietary technique used by members, appropriate wash recipes are selected in the computer-controlled cleaning process based on the fabrics and materials that are to be restored and the type of contamination.

Spotlight on Savings
On average, 85% of contaminated soft contents that are typically cashed out can be restored using this process. Additionally, claim settlement payments are significantly reduced through this method because cleaning averages 20%-25% of replacement costs—that's a savings of about 80% on soft contents restoration. Turnaround time for essentials and emergency needs can be as little as 24 hours, and standard return time for restored contents is fairly fast as well.

This cleaning method isn't restricted to priceless delicates, either. It can be used for regular laundry, leather goods, stuffed animals, draperies and sports equipment. For example, a sewage-damaged collector saddle was brought in with a Relative Light Unit (RLU) contamination factor of 829. After application of the cleaning process, it was returned to the owner with an RLU of 7, which is a food/medical grade cleanliness rating.

It's not only the process and the mechanics of the method that matter, though. Operators have to be trained and certified since it's their judgment that plays into accurately categorizing the articles for restoration and using the proper wash recipe, drying and finishing procedures. Adjusters opting for this process need to verify credentials and ensure their operators have current certification.

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