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Your Clothing Doctor: February

by aline on February 9, 2012

Will the stain come out or will it spread?

To be clear, we are talking about washable clothing here. Fact is it’s hard to know, without training, if a stain will come out. But, most “concentrated” stains will spread before being contained and removed. We want to help you to do the “right thing,” at home, or before taking it to your drycleaner. Here are some telltale signs to help you make a prudent and safe decision.


Hint: Water-based stains usually have a ring or an outline on the outside. So …

  • If you know that the stain is water-based, then go ahead and treat it, wash it, and air-dry it. Do NOT machine dry unless you are sure the stain was removed!
  • Most “colored” stains such as chocolate, wine, milk and punch—to name a few—will wash out, even large spills. But, don’t tumble dry the garment the first time around: The stain may require color-safe-bleaching to remove the “last trace.”

Hint: Oily stains have NO ring, so don’t be fooled: Think twice before washing!

  • If the stain contains food oils, lipstick or ink—and has NO clear outline—then soap and water may set the stain—even if it appears to be helping. The stain will probably “re-appear” after air-drying.
  • Blotchy-looking stains—like those on kid’s T’s and other cotton garments—are almost always oily, so get them to your drycleaner before washing at home!

Hint: Very small stains and spills can often be removed from upholstery, but …

  • You must first identify the stain as water-based or oil-based. And, you may not be able to see the outline, so be very careful before proceeding at home.
  • The smallest, most innocent stain, could spread and bleed, and your upholstery cover probably cannot be washed, so think twice before proceeding!

This tip is ©2012 The Clothing Doctor and used with permission. May not be reproduced in any form without written permission.


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