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A Cleaner World Blog

Invisible Stains

A few weeks ago, I was in the car with Gray and his friend Kendrick. They were having a conversation about bad commercials, when Kendrick brought up a commercial he saw about a particular brand of laundry detergent that could remove invisible stains. “Of course, laundry detergent can remove invisible stains because they’re not even there in the first place,” he exclaimed. “Oh, you’ve done it now,” replied Gray, and I went into a dissertation about invisible stains.

I certainly didn’t go into how dry cleaners are often accused of putting stains on garments, and that customers insist that the garment was stain-free when they dropped it off. A great way to explain invisible stains is to use an apple as an example. When an apple is cut in half, the air will cause the apple to oxidize and turn brown. Many stains can be colorless at the time of contact with the fabric. After a period of time, they absorb oxygen from the air and develop into a visible stain. The source can range from vegetable and cooking oils to tea and soda to perspiration and egg. Invisible stains can occur on any fabric or garment.

When stains are not visible before cleaning (this includes home washing and pressing, wet cleaningdry cleaning, and professional finishing) and they show up after, it means the stain has oxidized. Time as well as heat from a cleaning process will cause the stain to set. To successfully remove that type of stain depends on the substance, its age, and the type of fabric. It is much easier to remove a stain before it has been cleaned than after it has been subjected to the heat of dry cleaning, pressing, wet cleaning, or the home washer and dryer.

What can you do about invisible stains?

  • Wear an apron while cooking. This will help reduce the number of splatters on the front of your shirt, especially if you are panfrying in oil.
  • Point out stains at drop off. While we examine every garment before cleaning for pre-spotting, if it’s an invisible stain, we won’t likely see it. If you know you dribbled, spilled, or were splattered, point out the general area and let the CSR know what the substance was. It will make stain removal both easier and increase its chance of removal.
  • When doing laundry at home. Always check garments after washing but before placing in the dryer to make sure stain removal attempts were successful. Never place a stained garment in the dryer because the heat will cause the stain to set.
  • Know when to say when. If you are working on a garment at home and have had several unsuccessful attempts at stain removal, stop and take it to a professional. Too many attempts can cause color loss. When you do drop off, tell the CSR about the initial stain and any removal attempts.

So, yes, invisible stains are a real thing and could lead to the loss of a favorite garment if not handled properly. If you have questions or if you need help with an invisible stain, drop by one of our convenient locations. We are here to help.

eating an apple
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