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Series of Case Studies on Stain-Removing
Date:2012/6/18 13:09:46   Click:6897

Summary:Correct identification is the key to treating stains, says Richard Neale

Identify the Stain then Treat It

Stains must be identified correctly to ensure that the right treatment is applied. The first step in identification is the counter inspection and if possible the receptionist should ask what caused the stain when the garment is handed in. This should be done tactfully and without causing embarrassment.

Even if it is not possible to inspect the stain in the customer’s presence, customers should be asked if there are any particular stains on the garment that should be treated?

This should not only give a guide the origin of any staining but it should also allow every stain to be tagged, so that nothing is missed in the stain removal department.

It is worth remembering the Guild FOCAL acronym (Feel, Odour, Colour, Appearance and Location) that outlines the first details to be checked to identify the type of staining.

The ultraviolet lamp has become an indispensable tool in stain identification. Examining stains under ultraviolet light will identify sugars (which fluoresce yellow) and proteins (which fluoresce pink).

Caramelised sugars need patient attention with warm water and steam but this treatment will be totally wasted if the brown speck is actually oxidised protein. The ultraviolet lamp also proves its worth in identifying rust marks as these blacken under UV light.

A microscope or simple hand-held magnifier is also essential. Increasing the power of the human eye by 15 times, using a proprietary inspection glass together with strong side lighting is sufficient to see clearly any debris in the interstices of the weave. For example, this will reveal the difference between a custard stain and bleach damage.

 

pH test shows acid damage

Fault: This pair of trousers did not seem to have any holes before it was cleaned but the holes were clearly visible afterwards.

 

Cause: Using a pH indicator paper before cleaning will identify this kind of splash damage. The papers measure the acidity/alkalinity of the fabric in the splash marked area. Moisten part of the stained fabric and then apply an indicator strip. This will change colour if strong acids are present and the customer can be warned if a very low (very acidic) result is obtained. Car battery fluid and similar strong acid will give a result of pH1 and the customer can then be told that there is a strong risk of holes appearing if the cloth is cleaned.

Responsibility: The wearer is to blame for the acid spill and therefore for the resulting hole. However, an alert expert cleaner can sometimes spot the fault before it develops into a complaint.

Rectification: This garment cannot be repaired.

 

UV light makes stains clear

Fault: Two or three tiny stains could be seen after this beige jacket was cleaned and the customer complained.

 

Cause: Examining this jacket under UV light before cleaning would have revealed the full extent of the staining and shown that the jacket had probably been worn at a party or nightclub. It is surprising that so few stains were visible given the amount of staining that had occurred while the jacket was being worn.

Responsibility: The cleaner has done an expert job here. The wearer is responsible for the widespread staining.

Rectification: None is possible. Only minor stains will be visible if the jacket is worn in natural daylight and these are best left alone. Disco-style UV lighting will reveal some unsightly stains so the jacket should not be worn in this situation.

 

Strong odour lingers on

Fault: When these designer jeans were handed in they had a faint white mark, with a strong vomit odour, on the side panel. The smell remained after cleaning and the mark whitened and did not reduce when the jeans were re-cleaned.

 

Cause: Vomit is a mixture of butyric acid (which gives the characteristic smell) and the other components of stomach liquids. The stain should first be flushed with water and then any residues should be treated with a protein remover designed to treat human body fluids. Cleaning and re-cleaning will not remove either the vomit or the smell.

Responsibility: The wearer is to blame for the stain but the cleaner should take responsibility for treating it incorrectly.

Rectification: The stain is now well set onto the cloth (by the warmth in the tumble dry stage and by the heat in pressing if it got that far). It can sometimes be softened either with a proprietary protein remover or with a strong ammonia solution. For the future, the operator should learn to recognise vomit staining by the odour and then follow the correct sequence.

Hard edged stain worsens

Fault: This stain was just visible when the garment was brought in so the cleaner decided to dryclean it as a first step to see what the machine could remove. As a result, the stain’s rim became darker as did the stain itself.

 

Cause: Hard-rimmed stains tend to be either sugar- or proteinbased. Both types are water-soluble but drycleaning solvent will not remove them. Instead they will harden and darken in the warmth of the tumble-drying stage and they are then more difficult to treat. If they are pre-treated with water and steam (for sugars) or with protein remover (or ammonia) for proteins, they will usually come out completely. Examining the marks under UV light will identify the source – sugar stains will fluoresce lemon yellow and protein marks will fluoresce pink.

Responsibility: Cleaners do not use sugars or proteins so the wearer is responsible for staining the garment. The cleaner is responsible for trying the correct stain removal sequence to take out the mark, if this can be done without damaging the garment.

Rectification: It is still worth attempting to remove the stain, using the techniques described.

 

Identifying steriliser fluid

Fault: This garment did not have any visible stains when it went into the drycleaning machine. After cleaning, widespread marking could be seen, however.

 

Cause: Testing the marking with starch/potassium iodide paper turned the paper blue. This result indicates that the marks were caused by an oxidising agent. This type of chemical, which is commonly found in products used to sterilise babies’/bottles, causesprogressive damage to many dyes. Cleaning solvent flushes out the damaged dyes, revealing the full extent of the marking

Responsibility: The user is responsible for the spill. Shrewd cleaners can often spot this type of damage and confirm the opinion by testing. The cleaner can then refuse to accept the garment to avoid the inevitable complaints.

Rectification: None is possible.

 

Note: This article is provided to Unifair Exhibition only for Laundry Expo on its official website by Laundry and Cleaning News & Laundry and Drycleaning Technology Centre. Any kind of duplication or transfer is not allowed without the permission of Laundry and Cleaning News & Laundry and Drycleaning Technology Centre.




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