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August 22, 2021

Experts' Expert: How to remove stains from furniture and carpets

From the Washington Post:

Wayne Edelman, president of Meurice Garment Care in New York City, has more than 35 years in the dry cleaning business.

He has transformed his family's company from what was largely a neighborhood dry cleaner to a wardrobe and interior cleaning service with clients across the globe.

He has a national reputation for sophisticated advances in dry cleaning technology, and his business frequently handles delicate, one-of-a-kind pieces for fashion houses, high-end retailers, museums, and private collectors.

Wayne's many years in the business have made him an expert on proper garment care and on stain treatment techniques for furniture and interiors.

Below, excerpts from a Q & A (read the entire exchange here).


Q. Is dry cleaning harmful to clothing?

A. No — not cleaning is harmful to clothing and will result in permanent stains and moth damage. Moths are attracted to soiled areas on garments. They see stains that we might not, and that is why most moth damage appears in areas that have come in contact with food but might not be visibly stained. If cleaned properly by a reputable dry/wet cleaner you cannot overclean clothes. I wear a suit only once and clean it and after many years my suits still look great.

Q. Do those at-home products work for "dry cleaning?"

A. No — they do not clean, they only mask odors.

Q. What product/s should we have on hand to handle simple stains on our clothing?

A. A general all-purpose stain remover is best when used with a light brush. This method works well on most wet side stains that subsequently get laundered. We recommend sodium-based bleaches such as oxyclean over chlorine=based bleaches.

Q. Should you blot or rub carpet stains?

A. ALWAYS blot, never rub. It is best to try and soak up as much of the stain as possible, then you can go about treating it.

Q. How can I get Vaseline stains out of a sunbrella fabric-covered outdoor piece of furniture?

A. Tough one! Vaseline is what we consider a "dryside" stain as it is oil based. Water will do nothing for it, and could even set the stain further. I would recommend using a volatile dry solvent spotter, such as AlbaChem 1800 — which you can purchase online.

Q. Help! I didn't see that blue paint was splattered on a light gray carpet — ugh! Any suggestions or products I can try for removal?

A. We use commercially available agents for stain removal but you might try some Goo Gone paint remover. Put some on a Q-tip and dab or gently rub the spot to see if it breaks down the paint. If you see results you can apply some more and use a toothbrush lightly to loosen the paint, and then follow up with a small amount of mild dish soap diluted in lukewarm water. Apply sparingly and remove the water/moisture with a wet vacuum. Be gentle with the brush and vacuum to prevent damage to the carpet pile.

Q. Cashmere sweaters: hand wash or dry clean?

A. I love to wash cashmere (video at top). Here at Meurice we call it "wet cleaning." Dry cleaning will remove "dryside" stains such as salad oil or grease, but water will remove "wetside" stains such as milk, blood, or juice.

Q. My two-year-old tan-colored leather recliner has gotten a dark stain where my head rests. From hair oils, I guess, although my hair is always clean. I tried highly recommended leather cleaners, and when they had no effect, I resorted to shampoo, and even Dawn dishwashing detergent. I figure nothing at this point will make it worse. Is there something else I can try? I've never had leather furniture before, and really regret getting this rather expensive chair. 

A. Sorry, but I have no solution for you. This type of stain has caused a discoloration similar to the neck area on a leather jacket that has been worn for an extended period of time, as it comes in contact with your neck and body oils. (Scarves not only keep you warm but also prevent this type of staining on leather jackets). It seems like you have already tried what I would have recommended. The only possible solution at this point would be to "refinish" or respray the area with leather dye/paint. It will be hard to match the exact color and incorporate the resprayed area into the rest of the unaffected area.

Q. What is the most stain-resistant fabric to use on upholstered items, especially when you have kids and pets?

A. Stain resistant is anything that is not porous. The fabrics that clean most easily are ultrasuede — which tolerates cleaning with soap and sponges well — and Sunbrella, which makes great fabrics originally intended for outdoor use but now more widely used indoors.

Q. I spilled red wine on a new white shirt, and not knowing what to do I washed it immediately. That didn't work... and now there's a dry stain on the shirt. Is there any way to salvage it?

A. At this point you could try pre-spotting with a mixture of 2 oz. of cool water, ¼ tsp of laundry detergent, and 2 oz. of white vinegar (DO NOT USE RED WINE VINEGAR!!). Apply the mixture to the stain and brush with a toothbrush or something similar. If the stain lightens, repeat. You can also try using some hydrogen peroxide. If that fails, make a paste with some Oxyclean and water, allow to sit for 30 minutes, then soak overnight in warm or hot water with laundry detergent and Oxyclean.

Q. For a chair that is in the messiest room in the house, what fabric or covering would hold up best against greasy fingerprints, beverage stains, etc.?

A. In a kitchen, I would recommend vinyl or painted leather first, followed by ultrasuede, which is very durable and easy to clean. Additionally, many outdoor fabrics like Sunbrella have new variations that are being used for indoor upholstery. They are stain-resistant and have a nice feel.

Q. My carpet looks clean and I vacuum frequently, but how often should I have it professionally cleaned?

A. Vacuuming frequently is key. If it is a light color, it needs to be done more often than a darker one. It also depends on how much traffic the area has and the environment you live in (New York City soot vs desert dust). Is the home closed and air conditioned, or is there passive ventilation? Many of our clients have us in for interior cleaning at the change of seasons, twice a year. I would at minimum recommend professional carpet cleaning annually or biannually.

Q. Is it possible to "de-shrink" an item?

A. It's possible to "block," or stretch, a knit sweater if it has shrunk. We apply steam to relax the fibers, pull the material back to size, and then vacuum the steam out to set the size. We do this on our pressing equipment and I really don't think it can be accomplished at home. Shrinkage in washing is caused by temperature and occurs during drying during the last 20%. We recommend damp drying to avoid shrinkage.

Q. What is the best way to remove red wine from upholstery?

A. Red wine is classified as a tannin stain because it is earth/organic-based. If you can, unzip the cushion cover and place a white towel under it to absorb any of the liquid you will be using to try and remove the wine stain. There are red wine removal agents available for purchase, or you can make your own tannin removal formula using 2 oz. of cool water, ¼ tsp. of laundry detergent and 2 oz. of white vinegar (DO NOT USE RED WINE VINEGAR!!). Apply the solution sparingly. If you do not have access to the underside of the cushion, I recommend applying the solution and then vacuuming it out with a wet vac. Repeat the process until the stain is removed and rinse. Remove as much liquid as possible with the wet vac. You can dry the area with a hair dryer (not too hot) using a circular motion, working outside in to try and prevent rings from forming on the fabric. If the couch has general soil/dirt, this area might appear cleaner than the surrounding area. I always recommend a professional cleaning service as they will treat the entire couch.

August 22, 2021 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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