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Thumbs-Up! Spot Gone! (Conclusion)

Drycleaning detergents provide power to remove ‘big four’ stains

CONCORD, N.C. — You can’t clean a white blouse by agitating it in a mudhole.

There are those “cleaners” who believe that proper procedures and technical knowledge are no longer necessary in the garment care industry.

Far too many times, I will find a plant where the choice to cut corners has resulted in conditions that have reached a point of preventing even minimum production and quality.

I have a strong respect for this industry and want you to meet customer expectations.

Possibly you have overheard this: “I don’t use any detergent. It is just a waste of money.”

Drycleaning detergent is far from a waste of money. This chemical tool allows the immersion solution (solvent) and the drycleaning machine to work together effectively.


For the consumer, a spot is a spot. For the garment care professional, that spot must go.

If approached properly with knowledge gained through continuing education, successful stain removal is far superior in the eyes of your customer than a “Sorry” tag.

There are four broad categories of stains (solvent-soluble, chemically soluble, insoluble, and water-soluble) that are based upon the specific protocol used to remove each one.

1. Solvent-soluble stains are broken down in the immersion solution in the drycleaning machine and resist water. These are often referred to as “dry-side” stains, since water has little or no effect upon their removal.

Solvent-soluble are represented by light oils and greases. These can move directly to the next appropriately classified run with little or no pre-spotting.

2. Chemically soluble stains usually consist of these dry-side stains that require a little extra help to break them down. Chemically soluble stains are represented by ink, glue and nail polish.

The first step in the protocol of chemically soluble stains is to apply a Paint, Oil and Grease (POG) remover or Oily Type Paint Remover on the solid portion of the spotting board, along with light mechanical action.

This can be repeated a second time, often with the addition of amyl acetate as a co-solvent/catalyst, with additional mechanical action.

3. Insoluble stains are those stains that resist being broken down in either solvent or water. These stains consist of small, solid particles that have penetrated the upper layer of the fabric.

Insoluble stains are represented by sand, graphite and carbon; this is the car exhaust on the bottom of the pants legs after pushing a car in the snow. Since insoluble stains will not break down, they must be flushed away intact.

Insoluble stains are pre-spotted on the dry side with an Oily Type Paint Remover, receive mechanical action, then are dry-cleaned.

4. Water-soluble stains break down to a water-based procedure and resist solvent action and can be divided into three groups: sweet, protein and tannin. Sweet stains are sugar, and sugar left behind by food and beverage.

With the proper drycleaning detergent use, the immersion solution in the drycleaning machine will be carrying/handling enough moisture to rid the garments of the sweet stains that appear as small, irregularly shaped areas. These can be removed with just a quick puff from the steam gun.

Protein stains are represented by blood, ice cream, and bodily fluids that originate with animals. These require an alkaline-based chemical tool as a helper to water/steam for proper, complete removal.

Tannin stains are represented by stains like beverage, vegetable, and fruit, and require an acid-based chemical tool as a helper to water/steam for removal.

As long as the solvent is maintained with proper filtration and clarification, your operation will be productive.

Garments will feel more natural and press more easily, with few if any “crow’s feet” in acetate linings. Never let the color of your solvent, in any tank, get darker than the amber color of a pilsner beer.

Using the proper drycleaning detergent in the proper proportion is an asset, not a liability.

To read Part 1, go HERE.

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