Removing Ancient Stains

Discussion in 'Suits' started by Spagelo, Mar 5, 2019.

  1. Spagelo

    Spagelo New in Town

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Somewhere or Other
    So I have a really nice jacket from around 1934 that I got for a good price. Problem is, it has some really set-in stains that absolutely will not come out. I took it to the dry cleaners, they couldn't do it. I made the bad mistake of trying OxiClean, and I got better information some hours after I put it on, then had the stuff removed by the cleaner as quickly as I could.

    I'm getting really fidgety about this because I can't exactly just "buy another one"; I took it to a dry cleaner, I applied a corrosive detergent to three different spots and let it sit for hours, I soaked that entire area of the jacket in trying to remove the detergent myself (it's sitting on a hanger and I won't touch it for at least 48 hours), and although I'm quite sure it'll be fine, I don't want to run further risks. I've already been a bit rough.

    I figured you folks might have a better idea on how to get out stains this old than I do, so I need help. I really have no clue what I'm doing. I've always been careful not to stain my jackets, so I've never had this problem.

    Any help would be deeply appreciated.
     
  2. Patrick Hall

    Patrick Hall Practically Family

    Messages:
    541
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Spagelo,

    Everything hinges on one question: what is the jacket made of?

    If wool, you were right to stop with the wet clean. Wool felts when it comes into contact with water, and the jacket would shrink and be ruined. Unfortunately, there just aren't many options for lifting stains from wool outside of dry cleaning. Maybe woolite? But I have no idea how to use that and can offer no advice.

    If the jacket is made of a plant based fabric like linen or cotton or a blend of those things, you could do a wet clean with oxygen bleach or just plain old detergent, presuming that you tested the fabric for color fastness, and that the jacket didn't have canvassing and padding in its construction that could be adversely effected by water. Also, you should be cautious because even oxygen bleach is too caustic to use on silk. So if the jacket is silk, or has silk in its blend, you should stick to detergent as your cleaning agent.

    Hope this helps!
     
  3. Mathematicus

    Mathematicus A-List Customer

    Messages:
    378
    Location:
    Coventry, UK
    Actually, it depends also on the type of stain. Most stains that dry cleaners fail to remove (I'm talking about the good ones, not those who only pretend to clean your clothes) are water-based, like sweat or ink. These would dissolve with a water based detergent so if you are absolutely sure that these are entirely water based some spot-soaking with water will do the trick.

    However most stain will also have a greasy component and that is why the use of water is not recommended in general, as it would just spread the stain across the surrounding fibres. Usually food stains are of this kind and a careless dry cleaner can easily leave your garment permanently stained by dry cleaning it (ineffectively as only part of the greasy component will go away) and the pressing it at high temperature, setting the stain.

    I am afraid that you are now in this position and there is really little to do. Before you start experimenting with stain removers I'd give a try with the relatively new wet-cleaning method that is advertised as an alternative to dry cleaning.
    This is a professional method that employs a special machine and water based detergent that is actually able to lift stains that dry cleaning can not. Many vintage aficionados have tried it with success on light coloured suits with bad stains, so it is definitely worth a ride.
     
    Patrick Hall likes this.
  4. Spagelo

    Spagelo New in Town

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Somewhere or Other
    Would you link me more info about this new "wet-cleaning" method? I don't want to Google it and come upon the wrong thing. Thanks!
     
  5. Mathematicus

    Mathematicus A-List Customer

    Messages:
    378
    Location:
    Coventry, UK
    This is a good resource for information - it comes from the Miele's website, which has been the pioneering company for wet-cleaning. Many cleaners use Miele's machines around the world but not exclusively.

    Depending on where you are based, you might find more difficult to find such services. For example, in UK there are some in the bigger cities; I use one in Birmingham and it has done a great job on our overcoats. I have never brought a suit as I prefer to clean them only when very noticeably dirty.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.