Most stains are removed by dissolving them with a solvent. The solvent to use depends from two factors: the agent that is causing the stain, and the material that has been stained. Different solvents will dissolve different stains, and the application of some solvents is limited by the fact that they not only dissolve the stain, but also dissolve the material that is stained as well.
Another factor in stain removal is the fact that stains can sometimes comprise two separate staining agents, which require separate forms of removal. A machine oil stain could also contain traces of metal, for example.
Also of concern is the colour of the material that is stained. Some stain removal agents will not only dissolve the stain, but will dissolve the dye that is used to colour the material.
Avoiding setting stains
If a stain has "set", it has become chemically bonded to the material that it has stained, and cannot be removed without damaging the material itself. It is therefore important to avoid setting stains that one wants to remove. This can be done by avoiding heat (by not pressing or ironing the stain), sponging stained materials as quickly as possible, using the correct solvent (some do not act as solvents on all stains but on some stains as catalysts that will cause the stain to set), and avoiding rubbing the stain.
First rule of stain removal, MOVE FAST. The longer stains have to set, the less likely they can be safely removed and the higher the chance of permanent colour change, even if all the original stain material is removed. Immediately blotting (not rubbing) the stain material as soon as possible will help reduce the chances of a permanent colour change. Identify the proper technique for your stain, and take action NOW.
Drapes and Curtain fabric is not meant to be washed like clothes are. Even light contact with too much liquid can cause damage to the fabric fibres, colour, and shape of your drapes. Remember, when it comes to treating stains, LESS IS MORE. Always try the least invasive techniques first, and use gradually more aggressive techniques until the stain is gone.
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