Cleaning vintage fabric part 3

Welcome to part 3 of our series on cleaning vintage clothing.

Let’s talk about types of fabric or clothing stains for a minute before we proceed.Clothing Label

There are four basic types of stains as well as combination stains. Here they are:

Protein-based stains which include grass, blood, milk, and baby formula. Protein-based stains require an enzyme solution to remove. Enzyme pre-soaks include Biz or Biokleen. However, beware of using enzymes on silk or wool as they be destroyed by the solution. If you must use them, do so very sparingly and rinse immediately.

Ink or dye-based stains which include wine, juice, spaghetti sauce. 

Ink or dye-based stains can be removed with rubbing alcohol, hair spray, or nail polish remover. Again be careful with delicate fabrics as these can be rather harsh.  Use sparingly and rinse thoroughly.

Oil-based stains include as grease, butter, lotion. Oil-based stains are best removed with a good quality grease cutting detergent. Liquid dish soap such as Dawn, or regular laundry detergent work well.  Apply a solution directly to the stain and gently rub, using an absorbent cloth or towel to absorb the oil as it comes out of the fabric. Rinse thoroughly.

Granular-based stains which include mud, clay, dirt. Granular stains are also best removed by using a detergent solution. These stains may require a slightly heavier hand, but don’t forget to rinse thoroughly as always.

Combination stains can include things like coffee with milk, colored lotions, make-up, peanut butter and jelly. Combination stains are just that, a combination of different items that require a variety of solutions based upon what the stain is made up of.

If the stain appears to be old or washed in, you may not be able to remove it completely. 

Part 1 of the series covers identifying type of fabric and testing for colorfastness.

Part 2 covers determining how much cleaning your garment needs.