When stains are noticed at the counter, the normal procedure is to mark the stain with a stick on stain tag or pre-spotting flyer.
The problem with this is that the drycleaner often overlooks the tag or flyer and the garment is cleaned without being pre-spotted. When I do consultations for drycleaners, I always notice stain tags floating around the drycleaning machine.
Pre-spotting at the counter is not feasible using normal spotting agents. This starts with health and odor problems. Customers should not be subjected to any strong solvent odors, which are always interpreted as being harmful to health.
The other problem is fabric and dye safety. You would want to use agents that are safe to the fabric and dye and that rinse out easily when the garment is wetcleaned or drycleaned. It is important to note that many chemicals you may deem safe at the spotting board can not be used by counter people at the mark in station.
The following chemicals are used at the spotting board but not by the counter people or mark in station. It is also important to note that agents that you use for pre-spotting may not be rinsed out at the spotting board but have to be completely soluble in the solvent that you are using.
Chemicals not to be used at the counter
Tannin formulas. These agents consist of a wetside lubricant and a mild acid. If put on a fabric for a period of time it has the capability of affecting the dye. The other problem is that when the item is drycleaned there is the likelihood of rings and the acid content of the spotting agent will still remain on the fabric.
Protein formulas. They consist of a wetside lubricant and mild alkali. If left on a fabric for a period of time, it will affect the dye on most silks, wools and bright and vivid colors. The alkali still remains on the fabric after drycleaning. The alkali present will also turn white fabrics yellow. There will be rings that will not come out in drycleaning.
Oily-type paint remover. This agent contains ingredients that can not be used at the counter. The solvents present emit heavy odors and may not be legal according to EPA regulations.
The other problem is that oily-type paint removers will be hazardous when left on a fabric for a period of time. These agents contain alcohol that is activated by moisture in the air causing the fabric and dye to discolor as well as oxidizing into the fabric.
Amyl acetate. This solvent has a strong banana odor which makes it impossible to use at the counter. It also is a flammable agent and poses risks that must be avoided.
Pre-spotting leveling agents. It is wise to note that some pre-spotting agents you are using have perc in them and legally can not be used at the counter. The other problem is oxidation which occurs when the agent is left in the fabric for a period of time.
What can be used?
I have worked with many products in trying to find something that can be used at the counter or mark in station. Enzy-Spot developed by Cleaners Chemical Corp. possesses qualities that make it feasible to use at the counter.
This includes the following:
The odor is mild consisting of a slight fragrance.
The agent is completely neutral having no acid or alkaline content.
It contains enzymes which are effective on protein, albumin, some oils and greases.
It contains nonionic agents which are also effective on grease and oils.
It contains a small degree of water which combined with the lubricant breaks down and makes stains soluble such as sweet stains and non-oxidized tannin stains.
It contains leveling agents which means it can be put on a fabric and the agent, when drycleaned will completely rinse out. From testing I have done I have found that this product will rinse out in most common solvents such as perc, hydrocarbons and GreenEarth.
How to use
If a stain is noticed at the counter or mark in station, apply the agent to the fabric and either hang or put it into the basket to be drycleaned. The moisture, lubrication and enzyme will soften the stain, making it easier for the drycleaning machine to remove.