Stain Removal 101

Everyone at some moment in time has had a stain on his or her clothes. In most cases, the professionals at Reid’s can easily remove these stains. You can help us keep your clothes in top condition by identifying the location and nature of stains when you drop off your garments.

Stain removal is best accomplished when the stain is still fresh. Do not put anything away when it is stained or soiled.
 Most times, trying to remove the stain yourself could set the stain and prevent your dry cleaner from ever being able to remove it. It is generally better to let your dry cleaner do the work when:
• There are many stains or the stain covers a large area

• They require dry cleaning chemicals
• The fabric is fragile

• You are not sure what caused the stain
• You are unsure whether the garment is colorfast

Here are some other things to keep in mind when you are battling stains:

Stain Removal
Reid’s uses state-of-the-art processes and special stain removal chemicals to remove stains. Stains are divided into two major categories: solvent-soluble stains and water-soluble stains. Different stains require different treatments, which stain removal technicians are trained to administer. Why risk a disaster using an over-the-counter “all-purpose” stain removal product or trying a “home remedy” when you could rely on your drycleaner’s expert stain removal abilities?

Wetcleaning is a gentle form of cleaning that cleaners may choose to process sensitive textiles such as wool, silk, rayon, and linen. It gives dry cleaners more flexibility in processing items that may not withstand a drycleaning process or that have soils that would be better removed in water. For example, many items, such as wedding gowns, are often trimmed with plastic beads or sequins that may dissolve or discolor in drycleaning but generally perform well in wetcleaning. Items with large water-soluble stains are also more likely to come clean in a wetcleaning process.

Frequent cleaning removes stains that, if left untreated, could oxidize and cause yellowing. Exposure to heat or the passage of time can cause stains from food, beverages, and other oily substances to oxidize and turn yellow or brown, much the way a peeled apple turns brown after exposure to air. Once they become yellow or brown, these stains become much more difficult to remove and often cannot be removed.

Ink Stains
Hairspray and water can remove ballpoint ink, but you may be trading one problem for another. That’s because hairspray could contain alcohol and oils such as resins and lanolin. The alcohol in the hairspray can cause color damage especially on silk; likewise, oils and other ingredients could lead to additional stains.

Antiperspirant & Deodorant Stains
Many people do not realize that prolonged contact with deodorants and antiperspirants may cause permanent damage. Combined with the effects of perspiration, the damage can be extensive. The most frequent damage is caused by overuse of these products, or infrequent cleanings. This leads to the buildup of a stiff, caked-up
residue or to fabric damage.

To prevent chemical damage, do not overuse the product and allow it to dry before dressing. Wear dress shield with silk garments.

To remove the residue on washable garments, wash as soon as possible after wear in the hottest water safe for the fabric. Soaking in a detergent containing enzymes or an enzyme presoak may be necessary. If the stain remains, try using three percent hydrogen peroxide or chlorine bleach, according to fiber type or care label instructions. Before using, test for colorfastness.

Important Facts About Your Clothes: Part 2

Metallics Make Fabrics Fragile

Metallic yarn fabrics are attractive but not very serviceable. Friction and mechanical action in wear may cause the fragile metallic yarn to snap. Stains and perspiration may cause the metallic yarn to tarnish. Some metallic yarns are only surface coated and will dissolve in normal dry cleaning.

Rayon Problems

Rayon was the first manmade fiber produced. It gives the look of silk at a fraction of the cost. Rayon is generated cellulose material. Fabrics made of rayon often require a sizing to give body as the fiber has little body of it’s own. When a sized rayon garment is stained by a water-based substance, spots occur which may be difficult to remove. This is caused by a sizing disturbance caused by the water. Garments made of rayon can be expected to give you more problems than garments made of other fibers.

Delicate Silks

The dyes used on some silk are subject to color loss and dye bleeding. This may occur in normal wear or during stain removal. Silk may fade from exposure to sunlight or even artificial light. Perspiration will degrade silk; and perfumes and deodorants will affect the fabric color. Chafing, splitting, and shredding occur in normal wear, especially in lightweight or tight fitting garments.

Many white garments are treated with fabric finishes which may be prone to color changes. Some of these finishes are optical brighteners which may break down during processing. Never launder whites with other color garments or in an overcrowded washing machine. Never launder or dry clean white garments that are part of a set unless all parts of the set are processed together. It could result in different shades in parts of the set.


Wool is an excellent fiber. It is warm in the winter and if it is summer weight, can even be cool in the warm weather. It looks good and feels good, but all wool is not the same. Wool can be reprocessed or virgin, long or short fibered, and of different quality depending on where it came from and the particular sheep from which it was cut. A cheap woolen garment may be subject to shrinkage, wrinkling, poor dye retention, and shortened life. A wool label alone is not necessarily a guarantee of quality.

Furniture Covers

Furniture covers are subject to severe shrinkage when washed. Since they are usually made to fit snugly, it may be difficult or impossible to replace them on the furniture. Replacing them while still damp may be helpful. Dry cleaning can be desirable to avoid shrinkage but if the fabric was not properly preshrunk, even dry cleaning will not help. Never wash or dry clean pillow covers that are the actual upholstery. They are zippered only to obtain a good fit and will probably fall apart if processed.


Sun and moisture can do terrible things to draperies. You know how sun burns your skin. It does the same thing to fabrics but fabric doesn’t grow back like skin. Water from rain, humidity, radiator steam, or animals leaves water stains on draperies that cannot be safely removed. When a manufacturer doesn’t preshrink the drapery fabric properly, your floor length draperies may become window length after cleaning.

Important Facts About Your Clothes: Part 1

Dry Cleaned Garments Last Longer

Accumulations of perspiration, grit, and dust particles can shorten the life of your garment. Pressing a soiled garment can permanently set stains which may not be visible to the eye, yet cause permanent damage. Garments which are dry cleaned will last longer if they are cleaned immediately. Delaying dry cleaning after a garment has been stained can also cause the stain to become permanently set.

Care Labels Are Sometimes Wrong 

By federal law, clothing manufacturers care label must give you one way to care for your garment. However, in our business we see many misleading or downright wrong care lables. If every garment manufacturer that sewed in an incorrect label gave us a dollar, we’d be billionaires. Sometimes your professional cleaner may recommend a cleaning method that will work as well or beter. However, if you or your cleaner follow the care label instructions and the garment is damaged as a result, the store that sold it is responsible.

Designs, Patterns, Colors, or Coatings

Some designs, patterns, colors, or coatings are merely painted on or glued to a fabric’s surface. The beauty of these surface coatings can be adversely affected or can be totally lost with even the gentlest dry cleaning process or home laundering. You can identify a surface coating by inspecting the reverse side of a fabric. If the color or design has not totally penetrated the fabric, the garment may be unserviceable.

Garment Construction – Fabric Quality is Tested

The way that the manufacturer constructed the garment has a lot to do with how well it will look and wear after you buy it. Inner facings in suit jackets, collars, lapels, cuffs and blouse fronts may separate and pucker after washing or dry cleaning. Unfinished seam edges may unravel and poorly sewn button holes may come apart. The quality of the fabric will show their true colors, as the strong will survive, and the weak will perish.

Designer Labels Aren’t Always the Best

Many fashion designers sell the use of their name to any manufacturer who pays the price. The extra cost for their name is then passed along to you without any gain in quality. Very often the quality is decreased so the garment will remain competitively priced.

Fading Dyes

Fading occurs when a fabric is exposed to sunlight, artificial light, or even atmospheric gases. The color loss is very gradual and often goes undetected because the fabric is gathering soil at the same time. Dyes used on silk, acetate, leather, and suede are most susceptible to color loss or discoloration.