Spot Removal – Key Steps to Prevent Setting

Before you do anything, the most important step to prevent a stain is to ensure it does not “set.” Setting simply means that a stain will actually form a chemical bond with the fabric, making it harder or impossible to remove. If a stain sets, it is almost always permanent. In order to remove a set stain, you may have to “rub off” all of the fabric that is stained, which can damage the material. To avoid setting, here are some steps you should follow:

  • Treat a stain immediately with cold water or a  proper solvent if handy (some solvents are more effective, but water is always better than nothing).
  • Avoid direct heat as it will speed up the bonding process. Do not place stained clothing near heaters, dryers only use room temperature or lukewarm solvents.
  • Avoid pressure on stained area. Apply solvents gently, dabbing them onto the stain and letting them soak in rather than scrubbing forcefully. This is one of the most common mistakes.

Quick Response is Key for Spot Removal

If you are at home, you can start treating the spot without water. Go directly to whatever solvent you have. However, if you are away you need to react quickly. Go to a restroom and dab water on the stained area with a paper towel or tissue. Ensure the stain is thoroughly saturated. While this may highlight the stain more, it can ultimately save the garment.