Fabric Stain Removal
~Pooja Chakrabarty

The Basics of Fabric Stain Removal

Fabric stain removal is something that we have to deal with on an everyday basis. Stains emerge suddenly on our best outfits and are often nearly impossible to get rid of. However, with a little vigilance, a lot of patience, and some amount of information about the stain and the fabric, you too can become an expert at fabric stain removal.

The cardinal rule of fabric stain removal is to deal with the stains as soon as possible. Older stains that have been sitting around for some time are somewhat more difficult to remove than are the newer ones. Non-washable fabrics should therefore be packed off to the drycleaner's immediately for fabric stain removal. It would help if you informed the drycleaner about the type of fabric, and the type of stain on it.

Reading instructions is a must. Read the instructions relating to the correct procedure of washing and maintaining the fabric, and if you are using a stain removal product, read the instructions for using it.

The cardinal rule of fabric stain removal is to deal with the stains as soon as possible

Before resorting to the actual treatment of the stain, scrape off solid particles with a blunt knife, and blot liquids with cloth towels or tissues (preferably white in color).

Thereafter you may want to use some kind of a stain removal product or a bleach. However, not all garments are colorfast or bleach-safe. Read the fabric-care guidelines to see if the fabric is bleach-safe, and check the garment for colorfastness.

How do you test a fabric for colorfastness? To begin with, apply the stain remover on some not easily visible part of the garment. Allow this to stand for about 3 to 5 minutes, and then rinse it off. If the garment is not colorfast, the color will change. If this happens, avoid using that product on that fabric.

Bleach can also be used to remove uneven splotches of color. However, do not use the bleach in one particular area. Instead, bleach the entire garment. Soaking a garment in a dilute solution of bleach may be helpful, but it may also lead to a lightening the garment's colors. Too much bleach will end up weakening the fabric.

If the stain is going to be eliminated by using bleach, this will happen within 15 minutes of applying the bleach. If the stain stays put, you can be assured that bleaching is not the answer to your problem this time.

How do you use a stain remover? Place a clean tissue over the stain and apply the stain remover on the stain's underside. What happens on doing this is that the stain is forced off the cloth's surface, and is not allowed to spread.

Different stain removers must not be mixed together. For instance, mixing ammonia and chlorine bleach can result in nasty fumes.

Washable fabrics that have been treated for stains must be washed well in order to eliminate residues of the stain, as well as of the stain remover.

If you have used a dry cleaning solvent, rinse the fabric thoroughly, and air dry it. Do not put the fabric in the dryer because dry-cleaning solvents are inflammable, and may even lead to a fire in the washing machine.

There are many products available today for fabric stain removal. Be careful while using them. Make it a point to always read up on the instructions and the possible risks involved in using a particular product on a particular fabric.

Some stains stay on permanently. However, some other stains take a little more persuasion and before they actually disappear. So do cultivate some patience when in the process of fabric stain removal.

[The picture used in this article has been taken from the photo library of stock.xchng.]