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Ask Warren, The Dry Cleaning Expert

Learn More About Wedding Gown Preservation

Ask Warren

WarrenAsk the expert:

Warren Schultz is the owner and operator of West Oak Cleaner. With over 41 years of dry cleaning experience, he is happy to answer your questions. Please feel free to leave me any comment about your dry cleaning experience at West Oak Cleaners.

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Q. Should I use hairspray to remove a ballpoint ink stain?
Q. What is "blotting"? How does it remove stains?
Q. How do you remove deodorant and antiperspirant residue?
Q. Why do stains show up after cleaning or after a few months, even years? What is an "invisible stain"?

Care Labels And Fabric Related:
Q. The care label on a sweater indicates it is hand washable. Can I wash it in a machine on a delicate cycle?
Q. How should I clean my rayon garments?

General Dry Cleaning:
Q. Does frequent dry cleaning shorten the life of a garment?

Q. Should I use hairspray to remove a ballpoint ink stain?

A. Hairspray and water can remove ballpoint ink, but you may be trading one problem for another. That's because hairspray could contain alcohol and oils such as resins and lanolin. The alcohol in the hairspray can cause color damage especially on silk; likewise, oils and other ingredients could lead to additional stains.

Q. I have heard a lot of talk about *blotting* ink and cosmetic stains to remove the oily components. Is this a new process, and what does it mean?

ink removing services

A. When attempting to remove ink, mascara, and similar stains, it is suggested you *blot* the area when working with dryside agents. This process involves placing the garment over a towel, and then applying volatile dry solvent, oily type paint remover, and/or amyl acetate. Next, take another towel and wrap an area around your finger, and blot/press the towel-wrapped finger on the stained area. Lift your finger, and examine the towel to see if any of the oily residues has softened and transferred onto the towel. If the stain starts to spread, flush with volatile dry solvent, reapply oily type paint remover, and blot. Continue this process until the stain no longer blots or transfer onto the towel.

While performing this process, make sure you move the towels frequently to prevent the staining from transferring back onto the garment. When the stain no longer blots, dry clean or flush thoroughly with volatile dry solvent to remove all traces of the dryside agents.

After the oily residues have been removed, it may be necessary to continue onto wet side stain removal procedures to remove the remainder of the stain.

Q. How do you remove deodorant and antiperspirant residue?

A. Many people do not realize that prolonged contact with deodorants and antiperspirants may cause permanent damage. Combined with the effects of perspiration, the damage can be extensive. The most frequent damage is caused by overuse of these products, or infrequent cleanings. This leads to the buildup of a stiff, caked-up residue or to fabric damage.

To prevent chemical damage, do not overuse the product and allow it to dry before dressing. Wear dress shield with silk garments.

To remove the residue on washable garments, wash as soon as possible after wear in the hottest water safe for the fabric. Soaking in a detergent containing enzymes or an enzyme presoak may be necessary. If the stain remains, try using three percent hydrogen peroxide or chlorine bleach, according to fiber type or care label instructions. Before using, test for colorfastness.

Q. Why do stains show up after cleaning or after a few months, even years? What is an "invisible stain"?

A. Much like when you bit into an apple and it immediately turns brown from the air reacting to the sugars in the apple. A stain may sit undetected for quite a while. The sugars in the stain may appear over time or when the dry cleaning fluid comes into contact.

Care Labels and Fabric:

Q. What are care labels and what do they mean?

A. Care labels are instructions from the manufacturer on the best way to clean your garment.

Q. The care label on a sweater indicates it is hand washable. Can I wash it in a machine on a delicate cycle?

A. There is some risk involved in using any care process not recommended by the manufacturer. Hand washing involves manual removal of soils with water, detergent, and a gentle squeezing action. A care label that calls for machine washing, in a delicate or gentle cycle, indicates the soil can be removed with water, detergent or soap, slow agitation, and reduced time in a washing machine.

Hand washing is a restrictive care process that minimizes the amount of abrasion a garment receives in cleaning. If hand-washable garments are machine washed in a gently cycle, agitation may be further minimized by putting the item in a net bag. Even this procedure is in violation of the care label instruction, however, and places responsibility for damages on the launderer rather than the manufacturer.

Q. How should I clean my rayon garments?

A. First we must remember that rayon is a manufactured fiber composed of regenerated cellulose derived from wood pulp or cotton linters. It is absorbent and comfortable to wear. There are different forms of the fiver know as rayon, viscose, cuprammonium, high-wet modulus and lyocel sold as Tencel™.

With the exception of lyocel, rayon is very sensitive to water. Many dyes applied to rayon are not colorfast and will bleed or migrate upon contact with moisture. In addition, manufacturers often add sizing to rayon in order to achieve a desired body or drape. Some sizings are water-soluble, and washing will distort the shape of the garment. Dry cleaning is recommended for most rayon garments. Although substantially similar in chemical composition to rayon, lyocel can be either dry cleaned or washed. However, when caring for garments made of lyocel it is important to follow the care instructions carefully. If a garment made of lyocel is washed when should have been dry cleaned, it may result in excessive shrinkage and a wrinkled appearance.

General Dry Cleaning

Q. Does frequent dry cleaning shorten the life of a garment?

A. On the contrary, frequent cleaning prolongs the life of a garment. Not only do stains set with age, making the garment unwearable, but ground-in dirt and soil act as an abrasive, like sandpaper, causing rapid wear of fibers. Also, insects are attracted to soiled clothes and will cause further damage.

Benefits of Dry Cleaning:


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West Oak Cleaners
11471 Olive Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63141 (Next to Dierbergs)

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West Oak Cleaners
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Business Hours:
Monday-Friday: 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
Saturday: 7 a.m.-6 p.m.

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