How do dry cleaners remove stains? 3 secrets they don’t want you to know!

It seems to me that these days, nearly all our clothes seem to have a dry-cleaning label on them. The manufacturers seem to err on the side of caution and don’t trust us to do our own laundry. Sometimes it seems as if they’re covering themselves just in case the item shrinks or gets damaged in the washing machine. I understand where they’re coming from. It’s good not to get sued. However, sending all of our clothes to the dry cleaners comes to work out very expensive. So how do dry cleaners remove stains from fabrics, and can we replicate this at home without damaging our favorite garments. I will show you some simple home remedies that you could do at home, so you don’t have to take your clothes to get dry cleaned every time you need a stain removed.

dry cleaners removing stains

What are stains?

First, there are three different stain groups. 95% of all stains come from three different groups. Knowing which group your stubborn stains come from will help you in the stain removal process. There are rules to follow when removing stains, but you can’t go far wrong if you follow these rules.

Earth stains.

 The first group of stains is earth stains. So that’s anything from the earth, such as juices, colas, teas, red wines, grass stains, and mud. These often come in the form of tough stains on kid clothing or carpets.

Body Stains

Protein-based body stains cover all the icky stuff, like blood, milk, perspiration, sweat, tears, poo, urine, and anything nasty from the body that might stain the mattress, clothes, and bedding. It isn’t just human body stains. It can be animal stains, too, such as feces, urine, blood, meat juice, and meat blood from cooking.

 Oil-based stains

The third stain is all oil matter. The mineral, vegetable, and petroleum oils can be found in hair gels, cooking oils, greases, lipsticks, and makeup. These are often found on clothing, tablecloths, tea towels, and children’s clothes.

So now we know the basic three types of stains, we can determine which category of stain ours comes under, and we can either try to remove the stain ourselves or decide to send it to a professional dry cleaner. Obviously, if you are trying to get a tough stain out of a wedding dress, it would be more sensible to send your garment to the dry cleaners to be put through the dry cleaning process. However, if you’ve got a kid’s pair of trousers that have a grass stain on them, you might prefer to try spot cleaning at home first to remove the stain. I’m going to show you how to do that.

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Before you start removing stains

  • Before you use any of the stain removers below, you should always test the solution in an inconspicuous area of the garment to make sure that the color doesn’t bleed.
  • You should always rinse with cold water to see if it will come out if it is a fresh stain. Using hot water, rather than cool water may set the stain further into the garment.
  • If you have an excess amount of stain on the surface of your garment, remove it with a round object like a spoon to prevent transferring it to other areas of the garment.
butter stains
  • Always use a white cloth or white paper towels to prevent dye from being spread from cleaning cloths or towels onto your clothes.
  • Always work from the outside of the stain into the center of the stain to avoid transferring the stain onto the rest of the garment.
  • Always use a white cloth underneath the stain to prevent the stain from spreading to other parts of the garment. This is important when removing stains because the last thing you want to do is make it any worse and spread it around.
grass stains on jeans

How to remove earth-based stains

The first category we are going to remove is earth-based such as coffee, tea, grass, or mud.  

To make the solution, you need:

  • 2 oz of dishwashing detergent, dish soap, or degreaser,
  • 2 oz white vinegar
  • 2 oz of water
  1. Mix it up well
  2. Take the solution and tap it on top of the stain until it passes straight through onto the white cloth below. You should be able to see the stain disappear before your eyes.
  3. You can clean it in the washing machine with a mild laundry detergent when the stain has gone.
  4. You can add a little laundry bleach like this one, to the wash for an extra stain removal boost.
armpit sweat stains

How to remove protein-based body stains.

These are the worst kind of stains to remove as they are particularly unpleasant to get rid of, so let’s get straight to it. You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 teaspoon of ammonia
  • 1 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 teaspoon of detergent or dishwashing soap
  1.  Mix the solution well
  2. Pour it onto the stain and gently work away at the stain with a stiff brush until it disappears.
  3. We need to repeat this process with exceptionally stubborn stains.
  4. You may need to allow the solution to sit for a few minutes to dwell and loosen the stain.
oil stain on yellow tshirt

How to remove oil-based stains

The last group of stains is the oil-based stain which covers makeup, vegetable oil, coconut oil, cooking oils, hair gels, lipsticks, engine oils, etc

  • 1oz of degreaser
  • 1oz of water
  • You can make this stronger if you need to by adding a few tablespoons full of acetone or nail polish remover, but you need to make sure that it is not an oil-based nail varnish remover but purely acetone.It works well, but you need to make sure you are not trying to remove stains from acetate fabric, or it will melt and ruin the garment. Check your garment care label fabric before you begin.
  1. Spoon the solution onto the stain.
  2. Let it sit there for a few minutes, sometimes, it works better over time, and you can’t always be in a rush with oil-based stain removal. Sometimes it’s good just to let it work its magic.
  3. You may need to repeat the process with tough stains like lipstick with a high dye content.
  4. Launder afterward with mild detergent and some laundry bleach like this one

Frequently asked questions and answers.

Can dry cleaner remove stains from white clothes?

Dry cleaners can remove most stains from most colored and white clothes. It would be worth contacting your dry cleaner to let them know what type of stain and fabric you have and they should tell you whether they can remove the stain. By reading the information above, you can determine whether it’s an earth, body, or oil-based stain.

Can dry cleaners remove oil stains?

Most of us will need to know how to get oil out of a shirt or pizza grease out of jeans. However, getting oil on a silk shirt out is different altogether. Most dry cleaners should be able to remove oil stains depending on what type of garment you have. If it’s only a small oil stain, you could try the home remedy above. But always remember to try in an inconspicuous area first. If that doesn’t work seek advice from a professional dry cleaner.

Does dry cleaning remove wine stains?

Depending on the fabric you’re trying to treat, most dry-cleaning removes wine stains.
However, if you’re trying to clean wine from a carpet or other materials that you cannot remove, you might want to try the tips listed above. Wine is an earth-based stain, so you can follow the advice in that section. If you are removing stains from a carpet, take care not to oversoak the area and dry correctly to prevent any mold from growing in between the carpet fibers.

What can you tell me about dry cleaning and blood stain removal?

With blood being a body stain and protein-based, it is sometimes easier to try stain removal at home using the tips above. Depending on the garment, especially bedsheets, underwear, and children’s clothing, home remedies will be cheaper.

Does dry cleaning remove dye stains

most dry cleaners should be able to remove dye stains, but you could try the simple solutions below at home.
For removing Red Hair Dye from Clothes and fabric
1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid or detergent
1 tablespoon ammonia
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon water
mix the solution together and apply it to the stain. Allow it to sit for a few minutes the gently agitate until the stain is removed.
Wash as usual, adding an Oxygen-based bleach like this one
Water


For brown, black, or blue Hair Dye on clothes and fabrics
Heavy-duty laundry detergent
Oxygen-based bleach
Chlorine bleach
pre-treat the area with a mixture of the detergent and the oxygen-based bleach, then wash as usual, adding some laundry bleach like this one to the load

Can dry cleaners remove ink stains

When cleaning ink stains, it’s better to act quickly and avoid transferring the ink to other parts of the garment if the ink is still wet. Fresh ink stains are easier to remove before they dry and set into the fabric.
Blot up the excess of the stain gently with a dry paper towel, being careful not to push it further into the fibers.
Apply rubbing alcohol, hairspray, or hand sanitizer to the stain. This will dilute it and make it easier to remove during the wash cycle. These solvents help break down most ink stains but remember to test the garment for colorfastness first, as they can also attack fabric dyes and cause further damage.
If you still find the methods above have not worked as the stain had already set, try sending the garment to the dry cleaners.

Can dry cleaning remove yellow stains from armpits

Does dry cleaning remove sweat stains ? Probably, but sometimes yellow stains on armpits are caused by deodorant rather than sweat stains. You can easily remove this with HG’s deodorant and perspiration remover like these ones. This is a cheaper alternative to dry cleaning stain removals.

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For more info on how to wash clothes read this post