Skip to main content
33594 27807 bling lady web

(Image licensed by Ingram Publishing)

You are here

Season’s Bling and Your Spotting Thing (Part 1)

Take care with that red velvet, aka the ‘Bonnie Jean Christmas Dress’

CONCORD, N.C. — I have vivid memories of my early years trying to prosper as a cleaner.

When Halloween passed, my dad would begin pointing out garments, fabrics, and trim that could present a “hidden” problem for me, resulting in a claim.

It is reasonable to assume that the manufacturer is presenting a garment based upon marketability and profitability.

Also, it is reasonable to assume that the consumer is purchasing a garment based upon anticipated visual impact.

That leaves the cleaner with the task of dealing with the garment’s serviceability or, more accurately, the garment’s limited serviceability.

I have developed a sensitivity to holiday garments. Many of these festive clothes are likely to require modified classification and handling.

These are garments that are purchased for holiday gatherings based upon “bling” where the consumer has given little or no thought to care and cleaning.

You will see some of these garments over the holiday season and being aware of how to deal with their weaknesses will preserve your reputation and your checkbook.


Velvet is a popular fabric for party garments.

A garment that is constructed of all-cotton velvet is serviceable with a reduction in mechanical action.

However, a garment that is constructed of acetate/cotton is highly sensitive to moisture and pressure.

You should make every attempt to avoid using moisture in pre-spotting and post-spotting. If any moisture is used during stain removal, do not touch the moist area.

Once the moist nap is depressed, it is virtually impossible to restore the surface of the garment to its original condition.

Beware the red acetate velvet 4T dress with the white cotton collar (sometimes referred to as the “Bonnie Jean Christmas Dress”).

A similar garment fabric is a flocked print. This is a specific design that appears to be made of velvet on a plain background. It is achieved by gluing the short nap to the background.

If there is no trace of the design on the inside of the garment, you can assume that the “velvet” design is glued to the outer surface.

This design is subject to damage from over-exposure to most drycleaning solvents and also from mechanical action. To best protect flocked prints, pre-spot, then run in a net bag for a reduced amount of time.


A festive holiday party is sure to bring out bright and colorful trim.

Watch for ornate buttons, beads, sequins and, my personal favorite, glued-on glitter (“crushed ice”).

If the act of laying the garment on a flat surface leaves a trail of loose glitter, you have a problem garment. All decorative trim should be inspected before cleaning.

Shell buttons can crack and break from mechanical action. Beads are often painted styrofoam, with the styrofoam dissolving during cleaning and the paint crushing with nothing to support it. Sequins can be discolored during cleaning.

Fake leather presents a special problem for cleaners.

It is a product of modern chemistry, and much of it appears authentic. Fabrics made from polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane, and pleather (synthetic leather) can fool a cleaner/spotter if the inspection is not adequate.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion.

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].