True Quality CleaningStraight talk about caring for fine garments & household textiles from an expert who calls it like it is. In plain English.

Stain mishaps: Do's and don'ts

Stain mishapsPicture yourself in a restaurant, in the office, on a flight, or at a social event. And oh no! Something just spilt, splashed or splattered on your favorite outfit or suit.

Before you can say "Where's the club soda," everyone around you is volunteering an opinion on a quick-fix miracle cure.

Here's a word of caution: Before you take the "advice" of those around you, or before you do something you'll later regret, consider this ...

Restaurant waiters, business associates, airline personnel, family members and friends are not skilled stain removal technicians. Specifically, they know absolutely nothing about how to treat your specific combination of

  • Corbis ink stained shirtstain (e.g., steak sauce, mustard or red wine)
  • stain type (e.g., oil-based, water-based or combination)
  • fabric color (e.g., black, tan or white)
  • fabric type (e.g., silk, rayon or linen)
  • dye type (e.g., solvent soluble dye, water soluble dye, solvent fast dye, water fast dye, or some combination thereof)

Their "advice" may sound plausible because it often involves "stuff" you've heard about: ammonia, baby wipes, baking soda, club soda, coca cola, dishwashing liquid, hairspray, hydrogen peroxide, hot/cold water, laundry detergent/soap, lemon juice, lighter fluid, meat tenderizer, salt, sun, vinegar, WD-40, water or white wine. Commercial products such as OxiClean, Urine Gone and Wine Away. And let's not forget those "guaranteed" spot removers promoted on late night TV, at supermarket check outs, and in TV guides and tabloid newspapers.

Truth is, their "advice" is probably nothing more than a mixture of folklore, old wives tales, home remedies, and hazy memories about something they'd heard from someone a few years back.

So what do you do?Corbis rubbing tie at sink

Here's my best advice ...

Count to 30. Slowly.

Hopefully, this "cool off" period will

  • Refresh your memory on our advice for stain emergencies (ignore the advice of others, and do nothing you'll later regret)
  • Prevent you from doing something impulsive ("I've got to do something. Anything. Now!")
  • Delay your search for a quick-fix miracle cure ("Get me some water or club soda. Quick!")

Here's a sobering thought: By attempting to "treat" the stain yourself, you've got a 50:50 chance of ruining the garment.

In other words, if the quick-fix miracle cure works, you're just plain lucky. If it doesn't work, you've possibly ruined the garment.

Ignore the "advice" of those around you.

Clearly, those around you are just trying to be helpful in an awkward situation. Unfortunately, they're not skilled stain removal technicians, and don't have the technical knowledge, tools, chemical agents, and specialized equipment necessary to "treat" the garment.

Don't apply any quick-fix miracle cure.

Most of these quick-fix miracle cures just spread the stain, result in the formation of rings, bleed the dyes, and "pull" the color out of the fabric. Furthermore, they make future removal or restoration by a skilled stain removal technician a difficult, if not impossible task.

I can't begin to recall the number of ruined garments we've seen accompanied by the comment: "I know I shouldn't have done anything, but..."

Gently blot the spill, splash or splatter with a white cotton napkin or towel. Never wipe. Never rub. Never scrub.

I'll repeat that: Never wipe. Never rub. Never scrub.

Just gently blot the fabric to absorb as much of the spill, splash or splatter as possible.

Then leave it alone.

Take or send the garment to a reputable drycleaner.

  • Select a true quality drycleaner who is recognized for their stain removal and restoration skills.
  • Take or send in the garment within 24 to 48 hours.
  • Give the drycleaner enough time -- at least a week -- to achieve the best possible result (true quality cleaning cannot be accomplished in a few hours or a few days).
  • Point out the location of the spill, splash or splatter, especially if the spill, splash or splatter has dried clear.
  • Inform the drycleaner of the nature of the spill, splash or splatter, if known.

So the next time a spill, splash or splatter occurs remember my advice: ignore the advice of others, and do nothing you'll later regret.

You could say that knowing what NOT to do is more important than knowing what to do.

How can I help you?

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