Let’s talk stains

21 September 2022

In the third of Roger Cawood’s probe into stains nand how to deal with them, he focuses on spotting

Following on from July/August issue, lets take a closer look at pre-spotting and general pre-spotting. No cleaner should be in any doubt that, although reasonably effective, this way of dealing with stains, is high risk. This is due to the fact that the effect of the reagents, in conjunction with fabrics, fibres and dyes, when exposed to the variable nature of cleaning processes, programs and detergents, can result in unexpected damage for which the cleaner is likely to be responsible.

It is not possible for the cleaner to test pre-spotting products before cleaning for fabric safety or colour loss. Moreover, product manufacturers offer no guarantee (or could be expected to) that their product will not have any adverse effect on textiles or colour. It is therefore up to the cleaner, based on experience, to avoid pre-spotting items that might be at risk. If there is a problem the cleaner will not know until the garments are removed from the machine. Where necessary stains on at risk items should be completely removed on the specialist table making sure that the fabric is completely dry before cleaning.

Pre-spotting products

There are many products available to the cleaner and these mainly fall into the following categories.

  • Kit water-based and oil-based stain removers designed to absorb stains and flush out in the drycleaning machine. These can be used to treat a wide range of water based and oil-based stains.
  • General pre-spotting reagents designed to treat large areas of water based staining or ingrained soiling. Some products can be mixed with water to improve their efficacy on water-based stains.
  • Specialist reagents that can be used for treating water based stains/soiling on sensitive textiles such as animal hair, silk and the cellulosics.

Some pre-spotting or spotting products have the potential to stain fabrics if allowed to dry into the material leaving mark’s that can be very difficult to remove. To reduce the risk try to clean within half an hour. Care needs to be taken to avoid placing moisture or colour sensitive items in a pile of pre-spotted garments as they may absorb spotting chemicals from the other garments in the pile. Put them in the machine after loading the other items.

Great care must be taken when using general pre-spotting soaps mixed with water to avoid risk of introducing excess moisture into the machine. Avoid using these products in a liberal and random manner, do not apply them to fusable interlining areas and do not include any moisture sensitive items in the same load. Make sure the table is wiped clean before preparing the next load.

High risk textiles

  • With animal hair textiles there is a risk of felting shrinkage particularly in drycleaning when exposed to mechanical action and water based pre-spotting products. This can be overall or localised and can be induced by excessive moisture in the dry cleaning machine or by excessive/heavy use of the spatula and/or chemicals when pre-spotting stains.
  • Cellulosic fibres and fabrics and particularly cotton linen and viscose rayon are all at high risk from localised colour loss when exposed to spotting chemicals. I would therefore recommend that, following a colour test, where necessary, any stains are removed completely on the spotting table making sure that the fabric is completely dry before drycleaning.
  • lightweight/delicate textiles and particularly silk are susceptible to colour loss in pre-spotting, so once again, stain removal on the spotting table is often the safest option. As silk is particularly sensitive to abrasion and mechanical action, never use a spatula, where necessary, tamp stains using a soft brush.

Finally, designer and high value garments are always high risk and therefore stain removal on the spotting table is likely to be the safest option.

  • Next month we look at specialist spotting equipment and post-spotting chemicals

NO GUARANTEES: No product manufacturer can guarantee their pre-/post- spot or general pre-spot reagents against any adverse effects
TOO MUCH, TOO LITTLE: Overall felting shrinkage caused by poor classification and excessive use of soap/water mixtures
TOO MUCH, TOO LITTLE: Overall felting shrinkage caused by poor classification and excessive use of soap/water mixtures

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