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December 13, 2017

Oily stains are one of the most common stains faced by a dry cleaner. These types of stains can originate from automotive oil, or more commonly, from oily foods such as salad dressings and mayonnaise; the smallest splash of butter while cooking, or that dropped piece of bacon can cause an unappealing grease stain at the worst of times. Hopefully, by sharing some of our spotting techniques and tips along with some basic knowledge on how to identify grease stains, you will be able to minimize the damage and increase the possibility of the stain being removed successfully. To start, it is important to recognize the type of stain that has occurred. In most cases there are two types of stains, one being, water soluble stains – stains that are able to be dissolved in water such as perspiration, dirt, and certain foods/beverages, and two being, solvent soluble stains – stains that are able to be dissolved in solvents such as greases, mineral oils, and that dark spot on your favorite tie. To help identify between these two types of stains, it is often easiest to understand completely the appearance of one. Oil stains may appear on fabric in any shape or size. In some cases, the oil tends to follow the line of least resistance and spreads further along the yarns with a lower twist, causing a stain that is longer in one direction than the other. In a few cases, when the yarns in both directions are of equal twist, the stain will appear in the form of a cross. Oil stains usually do not change the color of the fabric in the stained area, but merely deepen it or darken the color.

When it comes to stains, there are some instances where it is better to let your dry cleaner perform the work.  This applies especially if the stains are numerous or cover a large area, if stains require a chemical procedure (Solvent Soluble) for which you are not equipped, or if you are not sure what the stain is and have doubts about the fabric. However, you can remove smaller stains satisfactorily at home by keeping these tips in mind.  

  • Read the care label carefully on all garments in question before attempting stain removal.
  • Do not attempt home stain removal with either water or solvent cleaning fluid without testing first for colorfastness.
  • Apply a small amount of your chosen product to an unexposed seam or area of the garment. Let stand for about five minutes, then rinse. If the color is affected, don’t use the product.
  • Never rub a stain, especially when attempting to remove a stain from silk. Always blot the stained area to help remove the staining substance without spreading it; this method will also avoid damaging the fabric.
  • Be particularly aware of stains from oily substances. Although these stains may be invisible upon drying, the can turn yellow or brown with time after the cleaning process.
  • Do not iron stained clothes as this will set the stain and drive soil deeper into the fabric.

If you decide to keep stain removal to the professionals, make sure to do so quickly.  As a stain ages it becomes more and more difficult to remove and the likelihood of removing the stain completely decreases as the stain will begin to set over time. Also, in some instances it is best to leave the stain untreated before taking it to the dry cleaners as some home remedies have the potential to negatively affect professional stain removal procedures.


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