It’s a good idea to promptly address stains on your clothes, but leave more intensive measures to a professional. Whether it’s an article of clothing or a fabric item like a blanket or rug, successfully removing a stain often requires the expertise of a cleaning professional. However, prior to bringing your soiled item to a cleaner, you should take proactive measures to help ensure a positive result.
The first thing to do when a stain occurs is take immediate action. “If you take care of a stain right away, it’ll come out a lot easier than if you wait too long,” says Stacy Huey, owner of Miracle Cleaners in San Francisco. The first step to addressing any stain is to apply water to the area, which will activate the stain and prevent it from setting, or forming a chemical bond with the fabric. When a stain is allowed to set, it often becomes permanent, which leaves you with limited treatment options.
While it’s a good idea to treat a stain with water, there are certain things you should avoid. The first is heat, which can speed up the bonding process between the stain and the fabric. Instead of hot water, apply cold or lukewarm water to the stain, and don’t place the stained clothing near a heat source to dry. The second thing to avoid is pressure. When applying water to the stain, do so gently. Dabbing and letting the water soak in will work better than scrubbing vigorously.
Other than applying water and a little soap, Ms. Huey advises against attempting to treat a stain yourself. “If you plan on taking your garment to a dry cleaner, don’t try to fix the problem yourself—just let them deal with it,” she says. “If you use the wrong solvent or substance, you can make things worse. Also, don’t wash or dry your garments before bringing them in. Laundry detergent and dryer heat can increase the likelihood of the stain setting.”
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