How to Spot Clean Stains on Clothing

From landing ketchup on your shirt to finding a leaky pen in your pocket, it’s sometimes difficult to prevent staining our clothes. However, these are not just common annoyances; if not cleaned immediately, they can cut short the life of your otherwise perfectly nice and perhaps expensive garments. To prevent this from happening, you should learn how to spot clean fabrics.

What Does Spot Clean Mean?

Spot cleaning means treating only the stained part of the garment. You must know how to pick the right cleaning solution for different types of stains and fabric.

A spot clean only care label is often seen on expensive designer items that are hand-made, fragile, or contain lace and bead work. While spot cleaning works for most fabrics, it can often leave a watermark on silk, which looks similar to a stain. In this case, getting help from a professional is a better option.

Choosing the Most Appropriate Solvent

Part of learning how to spot clean fabrics is knowing the best solution to use. The clothing label should be your best guide. If it does not give you any specific instructions, go by fabric type.

You can soak cotton in warm water. Do not dry heat because it will only set the stain. While you may use bleach when spot cleaning cotton, it is very hard on the fabric. If necessary, use chlorine as a last resort but dilute it well with water. Most of the time, detergents and light acids like vinegar should work well in treating stains on white cotton.

Wool is more heat sensitive than cotton. It must be gently spot cleaned using warm, not hot, water. You can soak it, but make sure it is laid flat to avoid distortion. Use only wool-safe detergents. Never use bleach or acids on wool. They will damage the fabric permanently. If a wool detergent with water does not work, have it dry-cleaned immediately.

Polyester and rayon can be spot cleaned more thoroughly than cotton. Unfortunately, oxidizing bleaches like hydrogen peroxide can destroy these fabrics. It is best to spot clean them using a normal detergent or with a dish soap meant for heavy greases.

Silk is more sensitive. It is better to rinse the whole garment thoroughly because spot treatment may cause watermarks, which are nearly as bad as stains. A glycerin stain remover is highly recommended. It’s neutral and effective.

No matter what you are using, test the solvent on an inside patch of your clothing before applying it to the stain on your clothing. Also, ensure that you are using the right water temperature.

How to Spot Clean Clothing?

Before applying any solvent, try to remove any excess stain using any edgy material like a credit card or knife. Do not rub away the stain to prevent it from going deeper into the fabric fibers.

For liquid stains, use a paper napkin or a white cloth to blot away as much moisture as possible. A slice of white bread is also helpful in absorbing oily stains.

After removing excess solid stains, get a clean, white paper napkin. Place the stained area face down over the napkin. By working from the opposite side of the stain, you will force the dirt into the napkin and away from the garment. If you work from the front, the stain will move deeper into the fabric.

Dampen a small white cloth or cotton swab with the cleaning solvent. Again, spot clean the stain from the opposite side. Start at the edges and slowly move towards the center to prevent the stained area from getting bigger.  Repeat the procedure until all the stains are gone.

Allow the spot cleaned area to air dry. Avoid direct heat and use a fan to accelerate drying. High heat can create stain traces.

After spot cleaning the stain, thoroughly clean the garment by washing or dry cleaning. Always follow the recommendations on the label.

Nothing treats a stain better than immediate spot cleaning. With just room temperature or warm water and an appropriate solvent, you are ready to go. However, even after learning how to spot clean your clothing, you can always ask a professional cleaner for help if you have questions or limited time.

Kelly’s Dry Cleaners have branches in Durango, CO and in Farmington, NM. Call us at 505-564-3333 and we will take care of everything.