1. TAKE QUICK ACTION – The sooner a stain is treated the better. Time can “set” stains. Almost any stain can be removed if action is taken quickly enough, however almost any stain will become permanent if left untreated too long. Ideally, all stains should be treated within the first 24 hours.
2. BLOT & SCRAPE – Whenever possible, immediately after the stain occurs, blot up any excess liquid with a paper towel or clean white cloth. Scrape solids from the fabric if the stain is dry. Try to remove as much excess as possible before further stain treatment.
3. DO NOT APPLY HEAT – Do not apply heat of any kind to stained fabric. Heat can “set” stains. Before ironing, pressing, or drying a garment in a dryer, check to make sure that the fabric is completely free of stains. If you don’t know the origin of a stain, don’t use hot water. Hot water can set protein stains such as blood, egg, and milk stains.
4. TEST THE FABRIC – Before attempting to remove a stain, test the stain removal agent on an inside seam or hidden area of the garment to make sure it doesn’t damage the fabric. Sometimes the stain removal agent may damage the fabric more than the stain itself.
5. READ CARE LABELS – Garment manufacturers normally attach a “care label” inside the garment, usually at the back of the neckline or at the waistline, indicating the recommended cleaning method. Read the garment care label carefully. The recommendations are based on the fabric, trim, elastic, interfacing, or adhesives. If garments are labeled “dry-clean only” don’t attempt to remove stains from them yourself, immediately call 1-800-DryClean for free pick-up & delivery service. If garments are labeled “washable”, it may be possible to remove stains from them yourself. Many natural fabrics, such as silk, wool, linen, leather, suede, and fur garments must usually be dry-cleaned.
6. DRY-SIDE vs WET-SIDE – Stains can be divided into two main groups, dry-side and wet-side. Wet-side stains are water-based. Consequently, it takes some form of water to remove these stains. Examples of wet-side stains include soft drinks, milk, ice cream, wine, coffee, tea, mustard, grass, and most food stains. Dry-side stains are oil based. Special dry cleaning fluids or powders are needed to remove these stains. Examples of dry-side stains include rouge, mascara, foundation, ballpoint ink, rubber base adhesives, cooking oils and greases, oil and tar, candle wax, and salad oil and dressing. There are also “combination stains” that dissolve partially in cleaning fluid and partially in water. Lipstick is an example of this. It contains wax and dye. When treating combination stains always use the dry-side stain removing agents before you use the wet-side stain removing agents. Other examples of combination stains are shoe polish, gravy, paint, and salad dressing.
Stain Removal Supplies
Drycleaning Fluid – Oil based stain and spot removers are available at grocery and hardware stores. Look for products that contain petroleum solvent, petroleum hydrocarbon or petroleum distillate.
Laundry Detergent – 1 tablespoon per cup of warm water
Household Ammonia – 1 teaspoon per cup of water
White Vinegar – 1 part vinegar to 3 parts of water
Oxygen Bleach – 3 percent hydrogen peroxide
Chlorine Bleach – 1 part chlorine bleach to 4 parts water
Enzyme Detergent – Laundry detergent with enzymes added for presoaking
Treating Common Stains
PROTEIN STAINS – Blood, chocolate, egg, ice cream, milk, baby formula, vomit, perspiration – Blot with water and a clean cloth. Then treat with an enzyme detergent. If the stain remains, treat with household ammonia. If the stain remains, treat with white vinegar. If the stain remains, treat with oxygen bleach.
TANNIN STAINS – Coffee, tea, mustard, wine, soft drinks, tomato sauce, soy sauce – Blot with water and a clean cloth. Then treat with laundry detergent. If the stain remains, treat with white vinegar. If the stain remains, treat with oxygen bleach.
OIL STAINS – Butter, furniture polish, grease, lipstick, foundation makeup, mayonnaise – Blot with drycleaning solvent and a clean cloth. If the stain remains, treat with laundry detergent. If the stain remains, treat with household ammonia.
WAX & PAINT – Candle wax, crayon, paint – Blot with drycleaning solvent and a clean cloth. If stain remains, treat with laundry detergent and household ammonia. The last traces of color matter may be removed with oxygen bleach.
INK STAINS – Apply drycleaning solvent. Blot until all bleeding stops, moving the stained area as the towels absorb the ink. If the stain remains, treat with laundry detergent and household ammonia.
MILDEW – Wash with chlorine bleach. Be sure to test the fabric before using chlorine bleach. Never use bleach on silk, wool, nylon or spandex.
NAIL POLISH – Never use this method on acetate fibers and test the fabric before proceeding. Blot the stain with acetone, moving the stained area as the towel absorbs the nail polish.