Can Club Soda be used as a Stain Remover?

My parents did not want a big swanky party for their 50th wedding anniversary; so instead, we took them out to a high-end steak house for a swanky dinner.  During dinner, I dribbled salad dressing down the front of my blouse.  The waiter saw me dabbing my blouse with my napkin and offered to bring me some club soda.

His offer immediately caused me to go into a dissertation, “Did you know that using club soda could actually make the spill worse?”  I continued, “The club soda could make the initial spill disappear but cause more problems when I go to have it cleaned because it will be a combination stain and the sugars in the club soda could also caramelize, leaving a brownish color.”  The look on his face was priceless.  I ended my soliloquy with, “Could I please just have a new napkin?”

Why Club Soda Could Be Deceiving

Everyone else around the table burst into laughter, but I knew what I was talking about.  That is because a few years prior, I read about an experiment the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute conducted where they tested club soda and water on 10 common food spills.  After blotting each spill with either club soda or water, it appeared that some or most of the spill was removed, but when the garment was placed under ultraviolet light, at least some of every stain was still there no matter which substance was used.  Note: To the naked eye, it appeared that the spill had been removed. 

So, let’s say that you get home after dinner, forget about the mishap, check your garments over, decide all is well, and then place them in the closet. 

Here is What Will Happen:

  • If left untreated and uncleaned, the residue from the original spill along with the addition of club soda will discolor and become permanent over time.
  • The sugar from the club soda will eventually caramelize the longer it sits and will leave a yellowish/brownish stain.

What to Remember If You Try Club Soda and Then Take It to the Cleaners

  • The addition of club soda makes the stain more difficult to remove because there are now two substances to remove.
  • Club soda can make some spills worse.  For instance, if club soda is used on a water and solvent combination stain, like ballpoint ink, it can actually set the stain permanently.
  • When dropping off the garment, be sure to point out both the original stain and the club soda.  If this is not done as soon as possible, the invisible residue can oxidize over time and leave permanent discoloration which on some fabrics cannot be removed.

The best advice I can give if you spill something on you and cannot address it properly right away is to gently remove the excess with a clean, white cloth by blotting the spill and then leave it alone.  Trust me, nothing bothers me more than to be in someone’s home or at a restaurant with something dribbled down the front of my shirt.  But I remind myself that the other option is to mess with the spill and possibly never get to wear the garment again.  When I follow through with the proper reaction,  I am thankful that I have access to professionals like those at Shores that can handle whatever spill I send their way.