CONCORD, N.C. — There are some customers who will only use our service after home treatment — hair spray on ink, talcum powder on grease, peanut butter on mustard or seltzer water on wine — has failed. On rare occasions, one of these treatments will bring about a small level of positive results. But, in most cases, all the customer has done is make the professional’s job more difficult.

An even greater problem comes when the customer fails to inform the CSR that stain removal has been attempted at home. The residue of the alkali in the bleaching agent used on the coffee will greatly reduce the effectiveness of the tannin formula used to pre-spot the stain.

The best course of action after the customer fails is to flush the area with steam, apply neutral synthetic detergent (NSD) and flush again. It is always best to know what you are up against when trying to correct inadequate stain removal.

Unfortunately, your customer will put more trust in the hype of a television commercial than in the expertise of a well-trained cleaner/spotter.

No amount of bleach will remove acrylic nail polish. The chemically soluble portion must be removed. It is only then that the bleach can be used to treat any remaining pigment.

Stains can become “set” with the passage of time or by exposure to heat.

An oxidized oil stain has a similar appearance to a caramelized sugar stain; however, the time and technique needed to remove oxidized oil are much more involved than for caramelized sugar.

The customer drips hamburger grease on a white cotton sweater, and this stain is almost invisible. The sweater is stored without being cleaned. The grease that went on warm turns tan over time, and now the stain is noticeable and makes the sweater unwearable. Removing oxidized oil is a time-consuming process, in most cases requiring pre-spotting, cleaning, post-spotting and re-cleaning.

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