A Q&A with Treasured Garment Restoration


Treasured Garment Restoration is a specialty branch of St. Croix and White Way Cleaners located in Stillwater, MN.  We recently spoke with Polly Nemec, the Owner and Sr. VP of TGR and she was kind enough to answer some questions for us. 

MNSOC:  How long have you been restoring/cleaning costumes?

POLLY:  Treasured Garment Restoration (“TGR”) was formed in January 2008. At that time Duane, our specialty production manager, was brought on board since he had over 12 years of specialty cleaning experience before he joined us.

MNSOC:  What kind of costume pieces do you clean? Fabric only, or would you do, say, a Stormtrooper outfit? Or a leather Dragon suit?

POLLY:  TGR cleans pretty much anything that can be cleaned– Including: all fabrics, leathers, vinyls, fur, feathers, foam–we also clean mascot costumes.

MNSOC:  What are the general costs of cleaning costumes?

POLLY:  Costs can vary a lot–depending upon the fabrics, design, and stain patterns of the costumes. Sometimes, we are able to clean in machines (either dry cleaning or wet cleaning), sometimes we need to hand-clean really delicate or really bulky items. If we need to hand-clean items, we charge $75/hour. Many costumes/mascots can be cleaned in an hour or less. Once we see the costume, we can give you a no-obligation cost quote to clean that piece.

MNSOC:  How long is the turn-around?

POLLY:  We usually ask for 2 weeks, but if needed, we can sometimes do it in less time.

MNSOC:  What sort of process do you use to clean the costumes to make sure they don’t loose beadwork, bleed, etc.?

POLLY:  We test the fabrics, beads, etc to determine the safest and best method for cleaning each piece. As mentioned above, we can either dry-clean or wet-clean by machine or hand, depending upon each costumes’ needs.

MNSOC:  What other cleaning options are there? (I am thinking in particular here about how Duane cleaned a Santa coat for a client of mine where the red from the velvet was bleeding into the fur – he was able to remove the dye from the fur).

POLLY:  We have had a lot of successes in controlling color bleeds in costumes with contrasting colors (i.e. red with white). Once again, we have to test the fabrics to determine the types of dyes and whether or not they have been properly pre-washed/set before we proceed with a specific method.

MNSOC:  Is there anything you DON’T clean in regards to costumes?

POLLY:   Not that we have found yet…???

MNSOC:  Can you give a couple of examples of costumes you have cleaned for others?

POLLY:  We clean costumes for the Guthrie Theater, Children’s Theatre Company, Costume Rentals, the Minnesota Opera, the MN Historical Society, we just cleaned all the costumes for the current-running show “Cavalia”. We also help test-clean some of the costumes for these theater companies–so that they can build them to withstand multiple cleanings.

MNSOC:  Do you clean accessories such as shoes? Hats?

POLLY:  Yes, Yes!

MNSOC:  Do you have advice or suggestions on prepping costumes for cleaning?

POLLY:  Please do not try “home remedies” on stains–they usually complicate the removal process–and sometimes pull color. Let us know (if you know) what the stain is, so we can efficiently take care of it.

MNSOC:  Do you have suggestions for storing costumes and their accessory pieces?

POLLY:  The safest and best method for storing costumes (and fabric of any kind) is to fold them into an acid free box after they are cleaned. Hanging costumes for extended periods of time (even using the “stress loops”) can cause distortions and distress on the fabrics. Although, the 2nd best method for storage (to folding in acid-free boxes) would be to hang in a 100% cotton muslin garment bag. Please avoid plastic tubs or plastic bags. Plastics, in addition to “sealing in” any moisture in the fabric content, also emit “off-gases” that cause oxidation (yellowing, discoloration) and deteriorization (crumbling effects) of the fabrics.

MNSOC:  What is the most amazing costume you have ever cleaned?

POLLY:  We have cleaned many dynamic and interesting things! One of our best challenges was a costume wardrobe that came in from the London Opera– a previous drycleaner had melted many beads and they had smeared all over the dresses. We were able to clean off the smearing and polish the remaining beads. The people in London couldn’t believe that their costumes looked better than they had for many years!

Contact Polly and Duane at Treasured Garment Restoration for all of your cleaning needs.

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