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Spot cleaning fine garments: The myths debunked
By: Stu Bloom
We’re frequently asked to spot clean a garment. A client will tell us that they only wore the garment for a short time and got a little food, beverage or makeup on it.
Our typical reaction is that, yes, it’s possible to spot clean a garment. But, in most cases, we’d prefer to clean the garment completely.
Spot cleaning is essentially an attempt to remove a visible stain without subjecting the garment to any dry cleaning, wet cleaning, hand washing and/or restoration process.
Spot cleaning is accomplished by a stain removal technician on a spotting board (a piece of equipment shaped like a home ironing board), using a combination of steam, specialty cleaning agents, vacuum (to extract the moisture created by the steam), and compressed air (to dry the fabric).
The problem with spot cleaning, and the reason we generally prefer to clean the garment completely, is that it’s almost impossible to completely remove (or “flush out”) the residue of any chemical agent that might have been used in spot cleaning – residue that would normally be flushed out of the textile by the dry cleaning solvent or fluid.
This means that some chemical residue might remain in the fabric – with unpredictable long-term results.
What’s more, many of these spots are oil-based stains that cannot be completely flushed out with steam. So when that garment is pressed, the heat from the iron could oxidize the stain and yellow the fabric.
Of course, there may be unique situations where a garment either cannot or should not be completely cleaned due to its fragility, finish, embellishment or trim. But, typically, these situations are few and far between – even if the garment is labeled “Do not dry clean. Do not wet clean. Spot clean only.”
Looking for an opinion?
Discuss the garment with a true quality cleaner. They’d welcome the opportunity to discuss your options, advise you as to any risks associated with each option, and identify the results you can or cannot expect from each option.
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