What Is The Problem?
Stains that nobody remembers being visible when an item was brought to the professional cleaner are now mysteriously visible.
What Does It Look Like?
The stains usually appear yellow or tan, but can be shades of rust, orange or brown depending upon the type of staining substance, time on the fabric and the fiber content of the fabric. The stains appear in a pattern that resembles what would occur from accidental local food or beverage spillage.
What Caused It?
The stains originate from incidental contact with substances that contain tannins and/or sugars. Such chemicals are found in soft drinks, tea, coffee, juices, mixed drinks, beer, wine, champagne, fruits, vegetables, desserts, candy or many other foods or beverages. After substances containing tannin or sugar contact a fabric in use, the staining moisture evaporates but colorless invisible residue remains. Over a period of time this residue will attract oxygen from the air and oxidize, thus creating a new visible discoloration. Oxidized spillage residue whether seen or unseen is not readily removed by normal cleaning. However, the heat of deodorizing and/or steam finishing after professional cleaning can accelerate oxidation and cause the stains to become much more visible.
Can It Be Prevented?
The best method of prevention is to take the article to a professional cleaner as soon as possible and point out the location of the spill and name the type of substance. With such quick attention the cleaner can then flush the entire residue from the fabric using special processes. This needs to be done before oxidation begins.
Who Is Responsible?
The responsibility rests with the person that originally came into contact with the staining substance in the first place. Unfortunately, many times the owner of the item doesn’t know about or forgets the spillage and thus fails to take fast action to remove the residue. When the staining begins to oxidize and appear on its own or after cleaning, the memory of the spillage is long gone.
Is There A Remedy?
On some fabrics such as silk and wool, oxidized tannin and/or sugar stains are often permanent. In other cases, professional cleaners have special agents and procedures that can reduce or remove some of these stains, but remember after residue oxidation begins complete safe removal is very difficult.