How to Identify and Prevent Some Common Staining Problems
Greasy-looking fabric softener splotches: Use of fabric softener
sheets in the dryer can deposit softener unevenly, causing greasy-looking
splotchy stains on silk-like polyester and blends of cotton/polyester
broadcloth. This problem is especially noticeable on medium-colored fabrics
such as khaki and medium blue. Avoid this problem and control static by
using a fabric softener that is added to the final rinse.
Odd colored or rusty looking stains on collars, sheets and pillow
cases, bedspreads, towels, or wash cloths: These stains are often caused
by the benzoil peroxide used in cosmetic products (including acne medicine).
This chemical acts as a bleach, is very insoluble and hard to rinse off the
body. It can permanently change colors of some dyes. The damage cannot be
remedied, So it should be prevented. When products containing this chemical
must be used, white collars and household textiles may be a good choice.
Stiff, coarse textures and/or dull colors in freshly laundered
fabrics: Nonphosphate granular detergents can combine with hard water to
leave behind a residue that can cause fabrics to become stiff and feel
harsh. Avoid the problem by using a phosphate-based detergent, a heavy-duty
liquid detergent or a nonprecipitating water conditioner with the
nonphosphate granular detergent. Soaking stiffened clothing in a solution of
white vinegar and water (1 cup vinegar per gallon of water) may help restore
them, however you should first test clothing for colorfastness to vinegar on
a hidden seam allowance. Another way to restore this clothing is to treat as
for yellow, gray, or general discoloration.
White powdery streaks on dark clothes: Powdery streaks on dark
clothes are probably caused by undissolved detergent being incompletely
rinsed out. Some nonphosphate detergents can deposit mineral hardness
residue that shows as streaks. Avoid this problem by changing detergents or
by adding detergent to the wash water first, then adding clothes and
starting washer. Usually a repeat rinse and spin cycle with clear water will
remove these streaks.
White streaks on blue jeans: White streaks on blue jeans are
probably not caused by un- dissolved detergent. Blue jeans are often dyed
with indigo dye, which is a fugitive dye that bleeds in a water solution. As
the washer spins, the edges where the fabric is folded get more abrasion and
rougher treatment, causing the color to escape. Turning jeans wrong side out
before laundering will reduce these white streaks and give more even fading.
To avoid the natural fading that accompanies use of indigo, look for
polyester/cotton jeans that are labeled colorfast. They will retain their
Yellowing, graying, or general discoloration: This condition
occurs when insufficient detergent issused for proper cleaning, wash water
temperature is too low (especially for oil stains), too much detergent is
used and insufficiently rinsed out, synthetics are washed with a light-duty
detergent in cold water, or color is transferred from other non-colorfast
items in the wash. To refurbish clothing with this discoloration, wash in a
permanent press cycle with hot wash water, a cool-down rinse, and a cup of
water conditioner instead of detergent. If discoloration persists, repeat
this procedure or wash again using the correct amount of detergent, an all-
fabric bleach, or diluted liquid chlorine bleach if safe for fabric.
The treatment of last resort for white items is treatment with a
commercial color remover (Rit or Tintex). This reducing bleach must be used
very carefully, as it will easily fade colors in any fabric it touches.
If the yellow color is on silk, wool, or spandex it may be a result of
fiber alteration due to improper use of chlorine bleach and is not
Special thanks to Iowa State University for allowing us to reproduce this
Reproduced with permission from the Cooperative Extension Service, Iowa
State University, Ames, Iowa, 50011.
Prepared by: Janis Stone,
Textiles and Clothing Specialist,
Iowa State University
No endorsement of companies or their products mentioned is intended, nor
is criticism implied of similar companies or their products not mentioned.