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

What is spot cleaning?

Lady w/white blouse/coffeeI'm frequently asked to spot clean a garment. A client will tell me that they only wore the  garment for a short time and got a little food spot or some makeup on it.

My typical reaction is that, yes, it's possible to spot clean a garment. But, in most cases, I'd prefer to clean the garment completely.

And here's why.

Spot cleaning is essentially an attempt to remove a visible stain without subjecting the garment to any dry cleaning, wet cleaning, handwashing and/or restoration process.

Spot cleaning is accomplished by a stain removal technician on a spotting board (a piece of equipment shaped like a home ironing board), using a combination of steam, specialty cleaning agents, vacuum and/or air drying.

The problem with spot cleaning, and the reason I generally prefer to clean the garment completely, is that it's almost impossible to completely remove (or "flush out") the residue of any chemical agent that might have been used in spot cleaning -- residue that would normally be flushed out of the textile by the dry cleaning solvent or fluid.

Corbis rubbing tie at sinkThis means that the chemical residue remains in the fabric with unpredictable long-term results.

What's more, many of these spots are oil-based stains, and oil-based stains cannot always be flushed out completely. So when that garment is pressed, the heat from the iron could oxidize the stain and yellow the fabric.

Of course, there may be unique situations where a garment either cannot or should not be completely cleaned due to its fragility, finish, embellishment or trim. But, typically, these situations are few and far between -- even if the garment is labeled "Do not dryclean. Do not wetclean. Spot clean only."

Looking for an opinion? Discuss the garment with a true quality cleaner. They'd welcome the opportunity to discuss your options, advise you as to any risks associated with each option, and identify the results you can or cannot expect from each.

How can I help you?

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