CHICAGO — The New Year is a perfect time to modify practices that no longer contribute to the bottom line. And today, getting stains out is no longer something you can leave to the “old pro” up the street. You can’t afford to return or turn away a single garment due to a lack of knowledge or a lack of the proper chemical tools.
Once the holidays are over, there will be plenty of chances to set yourself apart from the competition through quality stain removal. And common holiday stains will help you exceed customer expectations.
Beverage stains should be prespotted on the wet side and allowed to dry before drycleaning. As a general rule, you should flush these stains with steam, apply neutral synthetic detergent (NSD) and mild mechanical action, and flush the stain over the nose of the spotting board. This alone should decrease the volume of the stain 33% to 50%.
Apply tannin formula and mild mechanical action, and flush the area with steam over the vacuum nose of the board. For stubborn stains, test an unexposed area with general formula, and repeat the actions listed above with it.
Combination stains such as coffee with cream or eggnog contain varying amounts of protein. After treating the tannin side of the stain, flush the area with steam to remove any remaining tannin formula and apply protein formula. This removes the protein portion of the stain (milk, cream, egg, etc.) that the tannin formula left behind.
Every class I teach includes at least one student who says red wine is “impossible” to remove. You can remove red-wine stains if you make the effort—there’s no “trick” other than persistence.
Flush the stain over the nose of the board with wet steam. Place the stain over the solid portion of the board and apply NSD and mild mechanical action. Move the stain back over the vacuum nose and flush with wet steam again.
At this point, you’ll have flushed the loose part of the stain, heated the area to enhance the chemical action of the stain-removal agents, broken the surface tension of the surrounding fabric, and penetrated the stain with NSD for quicker and deeper penetration of additional specialized stain-removal agents. In other words, you will have made everything that follows a little easier.
Follow normal tannin-stain protocol. Treat first with tannin formula and flush with steam. Next, use general formula and flush with steam. If traces of the stain remain, use rust remover. Place a towel over the vacuum nose of the board, and place the stain over a towel. Apply two or three drops of rust remover, count to five, and flush the stain with wet steam.
If traces of the stain remain, repeat the process. If the fabric allows it, you can spot-bleach using hydrogen peroxide on any fiber that comes from an animal, and sodium perborate on plant-based and synthetic fibers. The cheapest wines often contain artificial coloring (dyes) that will require spot-bleaching to remove.
Candy should be prespotted on the wet side before drycleaning. While much of the stain can be removed in drycleaning, sugar can leave behind a white area that should be spotted with steam.
Dryclean a wax stain first. You can pretreat wax on the dry side with a POG product and mechanical action to enhance removal. Any remaining traces of color can be removed easily with postspotting and/or spot-bleaching.
Most holiday gatherings serve alcoholic drinks, and alcohol can loosen dyes, allowing the drycleaning process to remove them. The problem worsens with the heat, pressure and moisture used in steam spotting. Flush these stains over the nose of the board with two to four oz. of cold water before attempting drycleaning or prespotting with steam.
Get the tools you need and make a resolution to educate yourself and improve your standing in the marketplace in 2011.