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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Can Club Soda Remove Stains?

I am not a dry cleaning expert. I typically come up with way more problems than solutions. When I have a new garment related crisis, I either just send it to A Cleaner World or I call an expert like Mike Taylor, Mike Feudale, or Mike Smith. (Side note – we have a lot of Mikes at our company.) But I can be taught, and I’ve always understood that when you spill something on a garment, you should blot it with a clean, white towel and then leave it alone. Using something like club soda to remove the stain could actually make it worse especially if it is a dry clean only silk multi-color garment (think color bleeding). But recently I got an e-mail bulletin from the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI) that said they had done an in-depth study of the merits of using club soda versus plain water in stain removal, and that yes club soda can be a big help in the short-term, but no it is not the be all, end all to stain removal. The article went on to say that when applied immediately to 10 commonplace food stains, both club soda and water removed anywhere from some to most of the stain.
There are some caveats:
  • Neither water nor club soda will completely remove the stains. An analysis under ultra violet light showed that at least a portion of every stain remained after the club soda or water was used.
  • If left untreated, the remaining stain residues can become permanent stains over time.
  • The sugar residue from the club soda in the beginning is unseen but it can caramelize during the drying process and leave a yellowish stain.
  • When it comes time to remove the stain, the chances are greatly increased if club soda or water is used to rinse the stain before it dries.
  • If you happen to try using club soda on a stain, then take it to a professional cleaner as soon as possible after doing so. Be sure to point out both the original stain and the club soda when dropping off the garment. If this is not done as soon as possible, the invisible residue can oxidize over time and leave permanent discoloration which on some fabrics cannot be removed.
  • There are also some stains that club soda makes worse. If water or club soda is used to remove a water and solvent combination stain, like ballpoint ink, it can actually set the stain permanently.
I was surprised. I called my trusted expert with over 30 years dry cleaning experience, and he said this, “I would never encourage anyone to do their own spotting unless it is an extreme circumstance and you need to do it to save the night. But if you do, be sure to have the garment cleaned as soon as possible or caramelized sugar stains are sure to set in.” He always gives good advice.

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