Appliances: At Your Service

<< Back to Robb Report, February 2004

Clothes may make the man, or woman, but what about their upkeep? Too often, little, if any, thought is given to the maintenance of these valued image shapers. With the best of intentions, most garments are dry-cleaned or laundered so often that the fabric is permanently damaged.

 

“We know from research that the majority of items dry-cleaned today are not really dirty,” says Whirlpool Brand Manager Mara Villanueva. Perhaps you packed a suit for a trip, and even though you didn’t wear it, it came out of the garment bag wrinkled. Or perhaps your favorite leather jacket reeks of cigar smoke after a dinner party. Either way, you are unlikely to wear the clothes again before taking them to the cleaners.

 

Enter the Personal Valet clothes vitalizing system, an innovative new appliance designed by Whirlpool to preserve the quality of clothing and linens that may be adversely affected by excessive treatment. “The idea,” Villanueva says, “is that it will extend the time between dry cleanings.”

An ideal addition to the closet or dressing room, the Personal Valet does not actually clean clothes. Rather, it removes wrinkles and all
manner of odors in less than an hour. Its patented process gently refreshes as many as three hanging garments at a time by creating a penetrating mist with a special heat-activated formula that is safe for virtually every fabric, including silk, wool, leather, and cotton. And it will not harm beads or sequins.

“Whirlpool took a very interesting approach in developing the Personal Valet,” says Luis Panchihak, former corporate design director of California Closets and owner of the company’s new Palm Desert franchise. “They came to us early in the process and asked about our closet design and the sizes of the various components.” The resulting Personal Valet cabinet measures a neat 14 inches deep by 36 inches wide by 58 inches high. “That’s smart because it installs flush with the other shelving and blends into the closet,” Panchihak says. California Closets has since aligned with Whirlpool and now offers the Personal Valet integrated into its custom storage systems.

For sweaters that need to dry flat or for hand-washed delicates, Whirlpool created the DryAire drying cabinet. It also handles bulky items that must be hang-dried, in addition to the usual air-dry suspects, such as scuba gear, skiwear, and rain paraphernalia. The redefined drying machine also integrates with custom cabinetry. Finish options include basic white or biscuit. “We also sell mirrored doors and cherry or maple panels, but you can replace them with your own,” says Villanueva. At 24 inches square by 58 inches tall, it can fit in almost every location, and it does not require outside venting.

“Vacation homes in the mountain states should all have a DryAire cabinet,” says Villanueva. “In just an hour or two, you can get a couple of people’s clothes and equipment dry—ideal if you have just come in for lunch and want to go back out.” Finally, she notes that DryAire cabinets offer a luxury for everyone living in a cold climate: “You can warm up your coat before you leave.” 

Whirlpool Corp., 800.446.2574, www.whirlpool.com

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