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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Can All Stains Be Removed?

Recently an A Cleaner World Roanoke customer found out the answer.  She brought in a black and white blazer that she had put away at the end of the season without cleaning it first.  She said the stain wasn’t there when she put it away, and when she pulled it out for the next year, there was a yellowish stain on the lapel.  Unfortunately, Mike couldn’t get the stain out.  What would cause a stain to appear over time?  Most likely, it was a food or beverage spill – which oxidize over time and then become difficult, sometimes impossible to remove.  So the answer to the question is no; regrettably, some stains become set in the fabric and eventually turn into a permanent stain.

When you drop off a garment, we check it in, tag it, and make sure there is nothing in the pockets.  If you tell us there is a stain, we make note of that before sending it back to be cleaned.  Then when it is sent back to be cleaned, our expert spotter looks over the garment to make sure there are no other stains or spots to address.  If you tell us what you spilled, we can use the proper spotting agent first thing without having to guess.  If we don’t know what the spot is, then we evaluate the spot as well as the fabric to try and chose the appropriate spotting agent and cleaning method.  Many times, the combination of the spotting agent and the detergent used during the cleaning process removes the spot, but sometimes it doesn’t always work out that way.  Here are some reasons why a stain may not come out:

•    If we don’t know what the spot is made of, we don’t know which agent to use.  This is many times the case, so we rely on our many years of experience to make an educated decision, but sometimes a stain can even fool us.  At some point you have to stop because too many attempts to remove the stain can lead to color loss or damage the fabric itself.  Sadly, there is no one-size-fits-all stain remover so that’s why it is important to share as much information as possible at drop off.
•    Some stains are simply stubborn because of the makeup of the stain itself, and if you put them on certain fabrics that makes it even more challenging.
•    If a stain is left untreated for a long period of time, it becomes part of the fabric.  What do we mean when we say that?  Well, if left for a long time, a stain can react with the fabric causing the fabric to actually change colors.  So even if the stain is removed, the fabric where the stain once was is now a different color.  According to a study done by the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute, on stains aged for only one week, 20% of stains cannot be removed satisfactorily.  After three weeks, the percentage increases to 47%.  That’s why we always say bring it to us as soon as possible.

So the takeaway from this, in order to be as successful as possible to remove a spot or stain, is to address it as soon as possible, let us know at drop off what the spill is, and never put any garment away without cleaning it first.  Some spills dry clear but are still in the fabric, and these will oxidize and appear over time.  

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