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Clothes Stains: What Is the Right Treatment?

Treating a stain with water

Water is universal, safe to use on practically everything and is a cheap solution. It is effective as a fast treatment to prevent the stain from setting. It takes longer to soak in order to be effective for greasy stains, but significantly reduces the effect of discolouration (lipstick, hair dye, colours of other garments, etc.). Water is generally not a 100% effective treatment. But treating the stain with water directly almost always prevents the stain from setting. And a gentleman would never want to wear a stained shirt.

Treating a stain with salt

Salt is cheap and almost always available. It can be applied to the wet stain to soak up the chemicals. Effective with sweat or deodorant stains, red wine stains and bloodstains.

Treating a stain with vinegar and lemon juice

Mild acids like vinegar and lemon juice are excellent for coffee and tea stains, grass stains and sticky remnants such as tape and glue. Vinegar is also effective against mould – perfect for laundry that has been in water for too long if you forgot to take the laundry out of the washing machine. Watch out: you can never treat wool with acids like vinegar and lemon juice.

Treating a stain with laundry detergent or dish soap

Laundry detergent and dish soap are very effective solutions and can be used on many types of fabric. Dish soap is often more aggressive than detergent and can affect sensitive materials if it is not washed out directly. Both products are effective against greasy stains and thus can be used with meat stains, gravy stains and, for example, chocolate stains.

Treating a stain with oxidate bleaches

Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing bleaching agent. Hydrogen peroxide is a fairly aggressive solution for removing stains and is not suitable for all types of fabric. Oxidizing bleaching agents are often used for colourful stains like makeup stains, grass stains, blood stains, fruit stains and more. Oxidizing bleaching agents are less effective with fat and can damage sensitive materials. Dilute the agent for a milder treatment.

Treating a stain with glycerine

Glycerine (or Glycerol) is a fatty acid and is extracted from plants (usually soybeans) or animals (usually tallow). Glycerine is a component that is also used in hand soap, for example. Many types of fabric and clothing can be treated with glycerine, like ink and paint. Many popular stain removers that are available in the supermarket are made with glycerine.

Treating a stain with enzyme bleach

This method is very effective on organic stains and on stains with an bad odour (egg yolk, pet urine, blood, sweat, etc.). It can however not be used on wool or silk as the agents react with proteins and both wool and silk are made of proteins.

Treating a stain with dry cleaner solvents

Dry cleaner solvents are available in supermarkets and drugstores in a diluted form. Use them with caution. You are rarely better off using these products at home. It is wiser to bring your clothes to a professional dry cleaner.

Treating a stain with chlorine and bleach

These are rough, aggressive and ‘last resort’ products. Use this product carefully as it can seriously damage and discolour materials and clothes. Always test before use and only use if the label in the garment does not say “do not use bleach”. Often this is used for Overhemden / shirts.

Stubborn stains sometimes require multiple treatments in order to remove them. A combination of the above-mentioned treatments is often necessary for difficult stains. If you are unsure about the correct method, it is advisable to take the item of clothing to the dry cleaner or launderette.

Herenkleding Amsterdam

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