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Excellence in Stain Removal, Part 2

Martin L. Young Jr. |

The Clothing Care Council (CCC) offers every drycleaner an opportunity to distinguish himself or herself with the voluntary Award of Excellence (AOE) certification program. This month, I’ll cover the second half of AOE’s stain-removal test, which features egg, red wine and spaghetti-sauce stains on swatches of plain white silk.EGG
Egg is a wet-side stain, and a classic protein stain. Place the stained area over the vacuum nose of the spotting board and flush with steam until the stain stops breaking down. Apply neutral synthetic detergent (NSD) and flush the area with steam. Move it to the solid part of the board and apply a digester. Set the garment aside with a warm, wet towel over the stain to keep the digester activated. NSD will help keep the area moist.
Wait at least 15 to 30 minutes and flush the area with steam over the vacuum nose to see if the stain has been removed. Try a second application of digester before turning to a protein formula. Apply protein formula and light mechanical action, and flush the stain with steam over the vacuum nose. Repeat the process until the stain is removed. This procedure is effective on almost any protein stain.RED WINE
Red wine is always difficult, because you never know exactly what the wine contains. I’ve found that the more expensive a wine is, the easier it is to remove, since the stain’s content is more natural. But one rarely knows whether the wine came from a screw-top bottle or a wine cellar.
Many red wines contain artificial colors, and the dyes are often more difficult to remove than the wine itself. Red wine should always be removed using wet-side prespotting before cleaning. To do less is to invite trouble — the heat of drying and/or exposure to an alkaline environment may set the stain.
Resist the urge to get creative when removing red wine; use a by-the-book wet-side protocol. Place the stain over the vacuum nose of the spotting board and flush with steam. Pull the stain over the solid portion of the board and apply NSD and light mechanical action. Place the area back over the vacuum nose and flush the stain with wet steam.
Now, pull the stained area over the solid portion of the board and apply tannin formula and light mechanical action. Flush the area with steam over the vacuum nose. If the stain remains, repeat the procedure. If traces of stain still remain, apply general formula and light mechanical action over the solid portion of the board. Place the stain over the vacuum nose of the board and flush with wet steam.
If traces of the stain persist, place the stain over a white towel over the vacuum. Apply one or two drops of rust remover and fog the area with steam to accelerate the chemical action. Never apply mechanical action over a towel, as it can damage fabric. Always exhaust your acid (tannin) options before using anything alkaline.
If traces of the stain still remain, consider bleaching with 3% hydrogen peroxide or sodium perborate. To spot-bleach, flush the stain thoroughly with steam, apply NSD and flush with steam again. This should remove most of the tannin chemicals used previously and eliminate any effect they may have on the bleach.
After you try an oxygen bleach, try a reducing bleach on the final traces of a stain; on red wine, use sodium bisulfate or sodium hydrosulfite. Test whatever you choose on an unexposed area of the garment; I never use bleach at the board without testing it first, no matter how confident I am in the results.SPAGHETTI SAUCE
Spaghetti sauce is a combination of wet- and dry-side stains. Start on the dry side first; the oils and greases in the stain will act as a barrier to wet-side stain removal. Begin by flushing the stain with volatile dry solvent (VDS). Apply POG and tamp. Blot the stain with a towel to remove any loose particles.
Apply POG and a few drops of amyl acetate, and tamp to further soften the stain. Repeat the procedure a second time if you aren’t sure you’ve removed all of the oils. Place the stain over the vacuum nose of the board and flush with steam.
Now, move to the wet side. Place the remaining stain over the solid portion of the board, apply a few drops of NSD and tamp lightly. Pull it over the vacuum nose of the board and flush the area with steam. Place over the solid portion of the spotting board, apply a few drops of tannin formula and tamp lightly. Pull over the vacuum nose of the board and flush the area with steam.
If traces of stain remain, place over the solid portion of the board, apply a few drops of general formula and tamp lightly. Pull over the vacuum nose and flush with steam. If traces of the stain remain, apply a few drops of NSD and flush with wet steam to neutralize the pH of the area. Place the stain over the solid portion of the spotting board, apply a few drops of protein formula and tamp. The final option is to spot-bleach with 3% hydrogen peroxide or sodium perborate.
If you choose peroxide, dip a cotton swab in it and apply it to the stain. Peroxide works slowly, so give it time and reapply as often as necessary to remove the stain. I use a refined (activated) sodium perborate at the board, since laundry-grade perborate doesn’t dissolve well when fogged with steam.
Over the solid part of the board, wet the area with steam and apply sodium perborate powder. Apply one or two drops of protein formula to keep it from blowing around. Fog the area with steam, watching for signs of color change. Pull the area over the vacuum nose and flush it with steam. Finally, apply a few drops of acetic acid or tannin formula to neutralize the bleach.

About the author

Martin L. Young Jr.

Industry Consultant and Trainer

Martin L. Young Jr. has been an industry consultant and trainer for the last 18 years, and a member of various stakeholder groups on environmental issues. He is a past president of the North Carolina Association of Launderers & Cleaners (NCALC). He grew up in his parents’ plant in Concord, N.C., Young Cleaners, which he operates to this day. Contact him by phone at 704-786-3011, or via e-mail at mayoung@vnet.net.

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