Q: I recently drycleaned a white suit. Both pieces were processed in the same load. Unfortunately, when the suit came out of the drycleaning machine, the slacks were not as bright as the jacket. This is the first time that the suit was drycleaned. What happened?
A: White garments are often treated with fluorescent agents that act as an optical brightener. An optical brightener reflects light in such a way that it makes white garments appear whiter or brighter then they actually are. If the optical brightener is defective, it can dissolve during the drycleaning process, causing the garment to “gray.”
While the two pieces may have originally matched, they may be matching separates, or a suit that was constructed of fabrics from dissimilar dye lots. Either way, the optical brightener in the slacks was defective.