Ask the Expert

Fabric Care Tips and Tricks

Crayon Stains

Q: How can I remove stains caused by crayons left in pockets?

A: Crayon stains appear as built up, shiny and stiff stains in a variety of colors. Normally, drying–not washing–will cause these kinds of stains.

Your first discovery of the stains will occur when you open the dryer door to find otherwise clean clothes covered with a myriad of colored stains. The stains appear after drying because the heat from drying melts the crayon material.

The easiest way to solve this problem is to take the garments to your drycleaner, who usually can remove them by running the garments through a dry cleaning machine. If any of the stains remain after cleaning, they can generally be removed by your drycleaner through traditional stain removal procedures.

Chloride Salts

Q: I just took a blue silk blouse out of the cleaning machine and where the perspiration has discolored the underarms, holes have appeared. This has happened before and the customers always think it is my fault. Can you explain this type of damage?

A: Yes, chemical testing over the years of many, many similar situations almost always reveals the presence of chloride salts in the damaged areas. Textile research has shown that chloride salts of any type will weaken silk yarns over a period of time. Chloride salts are present in many foods, beverages, medicines, table salt, and salt water, as well as perspiration and some deodorants. The location of your damaged area definitely indicates that perspiration and/or deodorant have deteriorated the silk yarns to the point that the agitation of cleaning caused the weakened yarns to tear. Unfortunately, there is no practical way to predict or prevent this type of damage from occurring during acceptable cleaning.

Blotting Ink

Expert-dab1   Expert-dab2 Q: I have heard a lot of talk about *blotting* ink and cosmetic stains to remove the oily components. Is this a new process, and what does it mean?

A: When attempting to remove ink, mascara, and similar stains, it is suggested you *blot* the area when working with dryside agents. This process involves placing the garment over a towel, and then applying volatile dry solvent, oily type paint remover, and/or amyl acetate. Next, take another towel and wrap an area around your finger, and blot/press the towel-wrapped finger on the stained area. Lift your finger, and examine the towel to see if any of the oily residue has softened and transferred onto the towel. If the stain starts to spread, flush with volatile dry solvent, reapply oily type paint remover, and blot. Continue this process until the stain no longer blots or transfers onto the towel.

While performing this process, make sure you move the towels frequently to prevent the staining from transferring back onto the garment. When the stain no longer blots, dryclean or flush thoroughly with volatile dry solvent to remove all traces of the dryside agents.

After the oily residues have been removed, it may be necessary to continue onto wetside stain removal procedures to remove the remainder of the stain.

Reprinted by permission of the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (formerly IFI).