Invisible Stains — The Dry Cleaner’s Worst Enemy

One of the drycleaning industry’s worst enemies is “invisible stains;” oily dressing from a vinaigrette salad, spray from a grapefruit or apple, oil splatters from a frying pan and hair spray applied after you have that silk blouse on. Although all of these are innocuous seeming and invisible to the eye, after a few weeks at room temperature in your closet they can start to oxidize or caramelize. Once they do, they either begin to turn yellow or have turned yellow (like an apple after a bite is taken and then left alone). It is these stains that the normal consumer sees on their freshly cleaned garment when they exclaim “That wasn’t there when I gave it to you!” (Perfumes also fall into the invisible stains category.) The well-meaning customer representative says, “It was there, you just didn’t see it. The heat associated with dry cleaning and pressing brought it out.”

It is understandable that there is some skepticism on the part of the customer in their response. A customer’s response can go from minor irritation to the belief that the drycleaner did something wrong and actually put the stains in. We are in the business of restoring garments, but we also have to be sleuths and seers sometimes. Rarely do people remember the “events” that deposited these sugars or oils on their garments in the first place.

Within this and future issues of FashionableCare™ we hope to provide some stain prevention and removal tips to help protect your wardrobe investment.

Margaret’s Focus

Conducting seminars and putting on training clinics has been a recent focus at Margaret’s Cleaners. In February, Chuck conducted a customer clinic on St. John knit garments. The seminar included tips and advice on purchasing, altering, storing and cleaning of St. John and other fine knitwear. March has a busy speaking schedule for Chuck, putting on two customer clinics on the subject of “Clothing Care” and sponsoring a couture fashion show in Orange County.

Click here for PDF fileIf you are looking for a speaker for an in-store event or to conduct employee training in the area of fabrics and clothing care please contact Chuck Horst at (866) 454-2375. For those stores in which Margaret’s is the preferred service provider these and other speaking and training activities are provided at no charge.

Stain Emergency 101 — The Basics

Knowing stain-survival secrets and “what not to do” is just as important as knowing “what to do!” Dryclean-only clothing requires different care than washable clothing, as do the stains that we spill on them. Here’s some basic first aid that will not make matters worse, ruin your clothing, or compromise what your drycleaner will do next to restore your clothing.

When You Have a Stain Emergency:

Resist advice from well-meaning hosts and friends. People are very quick to offer help in these awkward situations, but you are the best and most qualified person to handle this.

  • First, count to ten, relax, and do not apply water or club soda until you know if the stain is water-based or oily!
  • Think of water and club soda as the same, and never apply them to oily stains, lipstick & ink stains. (Especially on dry clean-only fabrics.)
  • Gently blot the stained area with a dry, white napkin and stop.
  • Water can spread stains, bleed dyes and ruin silk — and other dry clean-only fabrics — making future removal or restoration by your drycleaner an impossible task!
  • Try to dry clean all stained clothing within 24-48 hours and always point out the stains. Drycleaners are not mind readers!
  • If the garment is washable, and the stain has no oil in it, you have my blessing to use water or club soda - in small amounts!

Shopping Savvy — Part 1

  • Make a list of your favorite colors, fabrics and styles before you begin to shop. Don’t waste time with “wrong” colors. If you need help picking colors, ask a friend or professional!
  • Assess your lifestyle and buy for that lifestyle. If you’ve changed, so should the style of clothing that you buy.
  • Fashion is fleeting, but style is forever — your personal style!
  • Look good and feel good so the clothing looks good on you.
  • To make the most of your shopping experience, have a plan!
  • Before you leave your home, grab merchandise returns, store credits, and gift certificates.

Building a Wardrobe — Part 1

Get Organized
Before you can focus on building the perfect wardrobe, you first have to take inventory of what you actually own, then clean house! That means clearing out the emotional cobwebs and being realistic about what you actually wear vs. what's just been collecting dust in the back of your closet.

We're all guilty of gazing through our closets with blank stares, groaning that we have nothing to wear. The truth is that most of us have closets jammed with "security blanket" outfits we never actually wear. They represent a multitude of things: our youth, what we used to fit in (10 years ago), and all those trendy bargains we couldn't pass up. But in the meantime, we still have "nothing to wear!" So, my advice is to take a deep breath and get ready to clear out your closet, and your life might follow!

  • First, take inventory of what actually fits and what doesn't. Have your own in-house fashion show and try things on. If you haven't worn it in 6 months or more, remove it from the closet. If it doesn't fit anymore, chances are it won't fit anytime soon, so get rid of it. Either throw it away or donate it to charity. Cleanse and purge! Edit, edit, edit!
  • Next, organize things by categories: suits, slacks, skirts, blazers, and blouses, etc.
  • Now that you have a clear idea of what you own, make a complete list of what you have. This is often more practical then just making a mental list. This will also help you determine where the "holes" are in your wardrobe.

Now a quick peak at Fashion Trends for Spring 2005.

Neo-Bohemian Chic
Reminiscent of a Moroccan bazaar, this gypsy style turns up in spicy hues like Saffron, Paprika, Marigold and Turmeric. Look for fluid tunic shapes, batik prints and lots of natural fabrics like linen, cotton and raw silk.
Must-Have: An ethnic sheer tunic with beading.
Editor's pick: Milly's gauzy silk version with gold passemetrie.

The Clothing Doctor...Steve Boorstein
P.O. Box 107
Glen Echo, MD 20812-0107
Phone (301) 320-7292 • Fax (301) 320-6995


Southern California's Certified Couture Cleaner™
La Jolla • Del Mar/RSF • Newport Beach
7511 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone (866) 454-2375 • Fax (858) 454-4303