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Posted on February 14, 2018

Invisible (or Mystery) Stains

Have you ever gotten a garment back from the cleaners, tried to wear it thinking it was clean, only to discover a stain that wasn’t there before?  Before we get into what that might be, let’s discuss the types of stains knowing that each type of stain requires its own method of removal.

  1. Protein stains come from things like eggs, dairy, blood, and glue.
  2. Oil-based stains come from things like olive oil, butter, suntan lotion, and makeup.
  3. Water-based stains come from things like soda, wine, coffee, and tea.
  4. Dye-based stains come from things like mustard, grass, and ink.
  5. Combination stains are just what they sound like – any combination from above, think honey mustard dressing, coffee with cream and sugar, or crayons which contain dye and wax.

Most of time when you spill something on a garment, you immediately know it.  But there are times when you might dribble a little vinaigrette or some clear soda on a shirt or blouse and not realize it.  The spill then dries clear, and you are never the wiser.  At the end of the evening, you throw the item in with the rest of your dry-cleaning, and a week and a half later, you drop everything off at your cleaners.  During that week or so, your spill has had the time to absorb oxygen from the air and to develop into something more.

When you drop off your clothes, you don’t mention any stains because you don’t realize you have any, and your cleaner doesn’t see anything when preparing clothes for cleaning.  The age of the stain as well as the heat produced during the dry-cleaning process can cause the substance to develop and ultimately reveal a stain, and when stains are invisible and then revealed after dry-cleaning or pressing, it typically means the stain is oxidized.

The best way to avoid all of this is to pay attention and make note of whenever you spill something on a garment.  To guarantee stain removal and prevent ‘mystery stains’ is to know the type of stain, it’s age, and the type of fabric.  The more you can share with the CSR at drop off, the greater chance your dry-cleaner will have in removing stains you both can and cannot see.

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