Fabrics and Special Techniques

In this section we're giving a swift "Heads-Up" of where you need to take extra care when dealing with specific fabrics and fibres. We also help with some techniques that help ensure your garments and fabrics remain in good condition, minimising the risk of damage.

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Warnings About Fibres & Fabrics

Fabric or Fibre




Acetate Wedding Dress

A synthetic fibre made from cellulose, similar to  cotton and linen.

Weakens in water and are often dry clean only.

Take care using amyl acetate on acetate fibres as the fabric may melt and you will not be able to recover the garment. Always test an unseen area before treating any stain.


cotton shirt

natural fibre that likes alkaline  more than acid conditions and doesn't react well to chlorine bleach.

Although most people think that cotton can't shrink it will both shrink and warp, especially in knitted format - as with t-shirts.

Cotton dyes are often not fast which means they bleed easily and colours should be kept separate.

When treating coloured cotton always  check a seam for colour fastness before starting.


linen jacket

natural fibre similar to cotton but whose colour is less stable. Treating linen should be done with great care, if the fabric isn't a neutral colour.

It will almost certainly lighten and leave a white mark where the stain was.

Garments also have a tendency to crease very badly and for this reason may be dry clean only.


silk fabric

silk withstand most reagents but will be affected by strong alkali solutions such as ammonia.

Remove spotting reagents as soon as possible after treatment and dry as much as possible, especially before dry cleaning. Instead tamp silk using a soft brush or treat the whole garment in a bath of the reagent.

It is important not to rub silk during treatment as this may well break the threads of silk leaving a whitish powdery residue that is impossible to remove.


Viscose blouse

man made fibre similar to cotton but is often adjusted to make it look or have a feel different to cotton. It is also weaker than cotton in water so has to be treated with much more care.

Assume that Viscose dyes  are not fast and that they will bleed easily, especially when treated, so always check a seam for colour fastness before starting.

Viscose is also prone to shining when treated harshly or when ironed, especially on the seams. Often Viscose is a dry clean only fabric.

Vivid Colours

acrylic paints

Must be treated with suspicion and doubt, so assume they are about to run you won't go far wrong. This remains true when washing, dry cleaning or treating a stain.

Treat stains without agitating the fabric to harshly, otherwise you are likely to leave a white mark behind with little or no chance of recovery.

Unknown Fibres

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If a garment label is unreadable you must take an educated guess as to what it might be.f it's hairy it could be wool or acrylic. If it's smooth sheer and shiny it could well be silk, acetate, polyester or nylon.

A thick fabric that you seem to be able to see into could well be viscose or some other man made or synthetic mixture.

Proceed with caution and always assume that the fibre you're dealing with  is the weakest that its appearance suggests it might be. Your principle should always be;

If In Doubt - Don't


woolen jumper

natural fibre made from the hair of many animals. Has a soft, warm feel to it and is often mixed with other fibres to add strength or longevity.

Wool Shrinks and the main reason is mechanical action, not the addition of water. So if you have to treat wool tamp it - don't rub it or you may cause localised shrinkage known as felting.

Be careful when applying ammonia or any other alkaline solution to wool. If it's strong enough the wool will begin to melt. Have acetic acid or malt vinegar ready to neutralise any noticeable reaction as soon as it happens.

Some Good Methods to Use




To Tamp a stain first add the stain removers by using a dropper or spoon. Then raise a soft brush above the stain and let it fall under its own weight.

Repeat this  until the stain starts to break up. Add more reagent and continue until the stain is gone.

tamping 1
tamping 2


First get a lint free cloth and fold it into a pad. Start a couple of inches above the stain and simply lower the pad and roll it over the stain in one direction.

This action doesn't have to be hard but repeat it until you see the stain moving. At that point you may wish to add some of the reagent onto the pad and repeat the action. Slowly but surely the stain will begin to move.

padding 1
padding 2


Using a spatula, or the reverse end of a spoon, is important in stain removal. Start from one end and rub the flat side of the tool over the stain in one direction only. It's almost always easier to work towards you.  Don't rub hard just be constant and the stain should break up.

spatula 1
spatula 2


The easiest way to flush water through a stain is by flushing it through with water.

Pace cloths underneath the garment or fabric and hold a sprayer very close to the stained area, spray hard directly through the fabric. Pad dry and then repeat if there is any of the stain or reagent still present on the fabric.

flushing through