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The Dry Cleaners' Truth About Stain Removal

Posted by David Whitehurst on Jan 14, 2011 3:52:00 PM

Stains on your clothes can come from many different sources.

What's the Truth,

The Whole Truth...

and Nothing But The Truth...

About Stains? 

Read on...

As a professional dry cleaner, stain removal is a regular part of our job.  Sometimes we are informed about a stain when you bring your clothes in...but at other times we're not.  It really helps when our customers tell us about a stain before we work on the garment.

Did you know that quite often a spill will get on a garment, you will wipe it off and think it is is gone?  When we get it in to clean, the stain returns...a reaction to the cleaning and drying process.  Dry Cleaners often get blamed for this but much of the time it is strictly a result of the spill and the fact that it remained on the garment without treatment. 

One bit of advice about stains.  If you get a stain and try to remove it yourself and it doesn't come out, let us know that you worked on it and what you used.  And be sure to not place the item in the dryer or press it with you home iron.  Heat will set a stain sometimes making it impossible for us to remove.

Sometimes you don't even know that a spill occurred.  Maybe you brushed against something.  Or things spill on your blouse, jacket or pants that you didn't realize.  For example, if you brush your teeth while wearing a silk blouse or shirt, it is not unusual to get a stain from the toothpaste "splatter" that you never knew happened.

Without trying to be too defensive, we have been "credited" for perspiration, deodorant, spaghetti, toothpaste and grass stains, among others.  I promise we never perspire, apply deodorant, eat, brush our teeth or wear your clothes to get these stains in them.  But when you aren't aware that something has gotten on your clothes and an unremovable stain occurs, I guess it's like playing hot "potato"...and we are viewed as having held the potato last.

When you spill food, drink...or anything else...on a garment, your first priority should be to remove as much of the spill without harming the garment.  Blotting the spill with a cotton cloth is helpful.  If the spill is thick, like catsup, try using a table knife or spoon to lightly lift all of the spill possible.  Be careful to not harm the fabric. Hard scraping to remove the spill can damage the fabric, especially with silk and other delicate fabrics.

But what should you use to remove the stain?  There are as many home remedies as there are fabrics and things that can stain a garment.  My suggestion is to remove what you can of the spill, lightly blot the area and then get it to us...ASAP.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is apply NOTHING to the stain before you get it to us.

The truth is...

All stains cannot be removed.  It depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The fabric used in the garment
  • The nature of the stain
  • How long the stain has been there
  • Any treatment already tried
  • The knowledge and skill of the stain remover

Your best bet on removing stains from your favorite blouse or jacket...or any special garment is to allow a professional dry cleaner to handle it.  Don't try any home remedies yourself on these types of garments. 

Another truth is...

We can't be sure if we can get it out until we try.

And yet another truth is...

All stains don't come out completely and aggressive stain removal could cause further discoloration of the garment.  Our objective is to always to "do no harm" but if a garment is unusable with the stain, we may ask you if you would like us to take it to the next step.  As we get more aggressive in our stain removal efforts, it is possible that we will cause some fading or color loss.  We leave this decision to you.

And a final truth about stain removal is...

We are trained in garment care, including stain removal.  If anyone can get it out, we can.  That's the truth!

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