What Stains Can Dry Cleaning Remove?

Food Stain on white shirt

Your clothing isn’t ruined if you’ve spilled your morning coffee, splashed oil while cooking or had your pen leak in your pocket. A full service dry cleaner can remove most stains, provided you act quickly and communicate about the existence of the stain.

Types of Stains for Dry Cleaning

When you bring the garment to the dry cleaner, make sure you point out the stain and explain what it is, when it happened and if you have taken any steps to remove it, as some home remedies can actually set stains or damage the fabric. (If the drycleaner doesn’t ask these questions, you need to find a new dry cleaners!)

There are two basic categories of stains, water- and oil-based, but they can be broken down even further.

Tannin stains

Some of these stains are among the most common, and they comprise numerous water-based stains: wine, tea, coffee, alcohol and more. Most of these stains have other ingredients that may require additional attention, such as sugar or dairy.

Fat, grease and oil stains

Oily, greasy and fatty stains can be notoriously hard to remove at home, but not for a reputable dry cleaners. Cooking or motor oil, butter, petroleum jelly, certain skincare products such as lotion, hair care products and many food items fall in this category.

Protein-based stains

Protein stains come from organic materials such as blood, sweat, meat, dairy and eggs. To remove these stains, your dry cleaner uses enzymes that can “digest” these proteins.

Dye stains

Dye stains comprise both vegetable dyes (e.g. grass and fruit) and ink (e.g. pens), along with other substances such as mustard and fabric dye, which can happen when laundering clothing at home.

Of course, stains can cross over into multiple categories and become combination stains. A coffee with milk stain, for example, is both a protein and dye stain, while butter is both a protein stain and an oil stain. With your help spot removal specialists can apply the correct two- or three-step process to remove stains.

Don’t store stained clothing

After a stain has set (bonded with the fabric) it can irreversibly damage the clothing. Even if the visible stain is removed, there can be discoloration on the fabric and the stain is permanent.