“Just leave the stain where it is,” said no one, ever. When stains happen, we want them removed. The problem with most stains, though, is that they happen at inconvenient times.

Often, a stain on a garment destined for the dry cleaner is going to have to sit there and think about what it’s done for a while. Seldom do we have the luxury of rushing that garment off for immediate treatment.


The professionals who care for your garments are more concerned about the fabric beneath the stain than the stain itself. Stain removal can be hazardous to the fibers, which can shorten the life of your garment.

One of the things that matters most with stains is the effect of time. The older the stain, the more difficult it is to remove. Dry cleaners who specialize in stain removal prefer to work on fresh stains.

What’s a fresh stain? It’s one that has not had the time to “set” – meaning react with the fabric or the dyes in the fabric.

The best example of this is a stain caused by cola beverages. It may not appear to have caused a stain. If it’s not completely removed from the fibers in the fabric, though, the area where the cola beverage was spilled will ultimately turn brown. This is because sugar and acids from the beverage have been embedded in the fiber and oxidize from time, or from heat.

Fabric Type Determines Stain Damage

Water and many liquids swell natural fibers like cotton. A water-based stain will penetrate deeper into natural fiber, unless the material has been treated with a hydrophobic substance to make it water repellent. So, liquid stains on natural fabrics – like coffee on your shirt – should be quickly treated to remove the substance before the natural fibers return to their pre-swollen state.

Synthetic fibers like polyester or acrylic repel water-based stains. Don’t try it at home, but you’re better off spilling coffee on this kind of garment. On the other hand, these types of fibers absorb oil-based stains – like ink, lipstick, or even perspiration.

It can be difficult to remove an oil-based stain from these types of fabrics which is why it’s wise to take a garment made of synthetic fibers to a professional cleaner as soon as possible after an oil-based stain occurs. This will increase the likelihood they can remove the stain.

In all cases, it’s important to remember that the stain isn’t the only thing to be concerned about. Removing a stain while maintaining the integrity of the garment itself is what professional dry cleaners specialize in. Learn more about our services!