As a professional dry cleaner, I would like to see you bring all of your spots and stains directly to us. This way the spots will have the highest probability of coming out. I realize that just isn’t going to happen though. I’ve put together a quick guide for removing spots and stains at home from things you already know are safe to wash at home (fabrics like cotton). As always, read the care label before doing anything, test for colorfastness on colored garments and finally, I am not responsible for what you do with the information in this quick guide.
As a rule of thumb, most stains can be classified into a couple simple categories. If it grows (from the ground), use vinegar to remove the spot. If it comes from the body (blood, for example), use ammonia to remove the spot. Based on this rule we can mix up a couple spotting bottles to keep in the laundry room (be sure to label them).
What you need:
2 spray bottles
If It Grows
If it grows refers to things that grow in the ground such as fruits, coffee (without additives), wine(grapes), and others. In the first spray bottle, fill a quarter with vinegar and the rest with water. Mark this bottle appropriately so you know what is in there.
From The Body
This refers to stains that occur from the body like blood and perspiration. In the second spray bottle, fill one half with laundry soap, 1-3 ounces of ammonia and fill the rest with water. This formula also works great on general dirt. Mark this bottle appropriately so you know what is in there. For blood, keep the water cold throughout the entire process.
Pre-Spotting is Key
The trick to proper stain removal is to pre-spot problem areas before you wash them. This will take out 90% of common stains. To properly pre-spot you need to work the proper solution into the stain without causing chafing or wear. The best way to do this at home is with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Your goal is to work the solution in, not to necessarily work the spot out – let the washing machine do that. Let the solution sit for 15-30 min and then wash as you normally would (with a load, not by itself).
Heat Sets Stains
If the stain remains after washing, hang dry the garment; do not put in the dryer. By putting the garment in the dryer, you will make removing the stain 10 times more difficult.
If The Stain Remains
Oxyclean is a great slow reducing bleach. It doesn’t contain any chlorine (or the brand name Chlorox) and is safe for most washable garments. Soaking a garment in OxyClean will help squelch any remains of most stains. Follow the directions on the package and follow up with washing. At this point if the stain is still there, it’s time to call in the professionals (remember to air dry again if it still isn’t all the way clean).
Professional Stain Removal
A professional dry cleaners may be required for some stains. A true professional (not a discount cleaners) will have access to many more spotting agents than you do and have the experience necessary. Stains such as ink, grease or oil, and dye should not be attempted at home. Further, fabrics such as silk, wool and leather should always be cleaned by a professional (even if the care label says they are safe for washing, stain removal should only be completed by a dry cleaners).
Photo Credit: Minnaert
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