When Should I Try to Treat a Stain?

When Should I Try to Treat a Stain?

Posted on March 22, 2022 by Steven Toltz

We all know that the best way to prevent a stain is to try to avoid them in the first place, but that advice isn’t always the most realistic. With our busy lives, stains can often be inevitable—coffee spills on the way to the office, grass stains streak our kids’ sports uniforms, and there’s a whole host of other pesky everyday stains to worry about avoiding. When stains happen, it’s second-nature to try and treat them ourselves. After all, there’s nothing worse than walking around with a spot on your shirt, right? Well, actually, there is. If you try to treat a stain that requires professional attention, you could end up damaging your clothing or further setting the stain. When it comes to stains, there is a lot of conflicting information out there, and it can be hard to tell what advice to trust.

At Dependable Cleaners, we want you to feel confident knowing how to address stains when they happen—and more importantly, we want to help you know when to leave the matter to the professionals.

Related Article: How to remove coffee stains

Here’s our definitive guide to treat clothing stains yourself, and tips for when you should let the pros remove those stains for you.

Stains You Can Rinse Out with Water

Typically, if you spill clear or almost clear beverages on your clothing, you should be alright to blot or rinse these out with cold water. The darker the beverage, or if the liquid has a specific chemical make-up, like alcohol, you should use more caution. Always check the laundry tag on your clothing to determine the best course of action. If the tag says “dry clean only,” you should leave the stain alone, even if it seems manageable. If you can spot clean your clothing, make sure the water you use is tap cold. In some cases, the carbonation in plain, unflavored and uncolored seltzer water can help lift stains from fabric, but exercise extreme caution when dealing with any fabric other than cotton — if the fabric you’re wearing is at all delicate, even the temperature of the water you use can cause unintentional damage.

Related Article: Care Symbols: What Do Laundry Tags Mean?

Stains You Can Treat with Spot Stain Remover

Spot stain remover, whether it’s a pre-made commercial brand such as Shout, or a homemade tonic like a mixture of white vinegar, lemon, and water, should be applied with extreme caution to any manner of stain. In some cases, these products can assist in lifting organic food stains like chocolate, pasta sauce, or grease, or bodily fluid stains like blood, urine, or excrement, but as with water, if these products are applied incorrectly, they can cause irreparable damage to your clothing and linens. Stain removers are designed to dissolve, whiten, or digest parts of the stain they’re applied to — which means that these processes are happening on top of or within the fabric of your clothing itself, too. If the material of your clothing is too delicate or is in any way hard to handle, the functions that make stain removers work might actually damage your clothing in the process. As with spot cleaning stains using water, you should always check the laundry tag on your clothes before applying any kind of stain remover. Never apply stain remover to delicate fabrics like silk, or to clothing with a tag that reads “Dry Clean Only.” If you have any concerns or are unsure whether to use a stain remover on a certain stain, do not touch the stain, and instead, bring it directly to a professional cleaning service.

Stains You Should Let the Pros Handle

Particularly complex stains, like ink blots, large grease stains, crayon or paint stains, and so on, should always be treated professionally. These types of stains can set permanently or damage your clothing if treated improperly, and if you try to treat these issues yourself before bringing them to a professional, it can be more difficult for the cleaners to handle such stains. When in doubt, bring any stain to the professionals to remove.

“Particularly complex stains, like ink blots, large grease stains, crayon or paint stains, and so on, should always be treated professionally. These types of stains can set permanently or damage your clothing if treated improperly.”

What if You Can’t Tell? Treating Mystery Stains

As with tricky stains, if you have doubts about what to do with a stain you can’t quite place—is it coffee, dried blood, beef stock, or something else?—you should always bring your clothing to the pros. Professional cleaning services like Dependable Cleaners have extensive experience lifting stains, and can help determine the best course of action for a mystery stain. They may even be able to identify the type of stain you’re dealing with just by looking at it.

Related Article: How to Keep a Spot from Becoming a Permanent Stain

High-Maintenance Clothing Materials

Much like with mystery stains, when you’re dealing with a stain on high-maintenance clothing materials like silk, wool, or leather, it’s always a good idea to leave it alone rather than trying to treat it yourself. In these cases, applying the wrong stain remover (or even water, in some situations!) can permanently damage, dissolve, deteriorate, or discolor your clothing. If you happen to stain a particularly delicate or finicky material, or if you’re not sure whether the material of your clothing requires more specific care, err on the side of caution and bring the clothing item into your nearest Dependable Cleaners location. We’ll help you decide what the best course of action is, and together, we’ll make sure that the stain is removed the right way.

With locations all over the state of Colorado, Dependable Cleaners is here to help you with all your cleaning needs, whether you’re looking for laundry, wash-and-fold services, or environmentally conscious dry cleaning. Plus, we have VIP treatment options and same-day delivery. Swing by one of our locations today!

Adam A.

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I had a great experience with this cleaners! Some places take your clothes and treat them all the same and you can tell when they come back that it may not have been the best method of treatment. This store knows how to read care labels and take care of your more delicate items. They even have cold hand wash machines for sweaters and other tougher to clean items! My cashmere looks great and smells new, my silks are still bright, and the shirt laundry is good too. My shirts don't come back with that large indent near the lower buttons where most cleaners clip it shut. The prices aren't the lowest in town, but you definitely get what you pay for. They also offer a service where you get store bags and don't have to wait in line, gets me in and out super quick. Give this place a try. .