The Stain Wizards answers a letter from a reader

The Stain Wizards answers a letter from a reader

Dear Stain Wizard,

I have problems with yellow stains in laundry. These stains only show up after the garment has been finished. What are they? How can I prevent them?


Don, in Kentucky.

Yellow stains can come from many sources. They can be caramelized sugar, protein, beverage or tannin stains, starch, etc. The photos you sent are oxidation type stains. Let me explain.

The first photo is that of a tablecloth where the yellowing happened over time. The yellowing on the men’s dress shirt happened immediately as it came off the shirt press.

Both were caused by the same thing.

When meat grease, salad dressing or other spills happen, it is invisible. You won’t see it as the garment is taken in or tagged at the front counter.

The Kb value (strength of solvent to remove oil/grease). Yes, soap and water can be considered a solvent, but soap and water is very low Kb.

So we go out for lunch or dinner and we spill on our shirt. We wash the shirt. We press the shirt, the oil, previously invisible, now turns yellow.

How to prevent the problem:

Preventing invisible stains from appearing is a difficult challenge.

Try adding 4-5 oz. of RiteGo or laundry degreaser to the load, in conjunction with the detergent soap you are currently using.

You could dry clean the garment. Dry cleaning is the best for removing paints, oils and greases. Dry cleaning solvents are 5-10 times stronger than soap and water.

(For example, if I do chef coats, etc. I know that food items and oils are on the garments, even if I can’t see the stains, I will process it, knowing they are in the fabric)

How to remove oxidized oil stains:

Once the stain is pressed into the garment, it is harder to remove.

On the laundry shirt, we applied a good laundry P.O.G. and reprocessed. The stain was gone.

You can apply 3% Hydrogen Peroxide to the stain and hang it in the boiler room. Reapplying every 20 minutes until the stain is gone. Once the stain is removed, there is no need to rewash or touch up.

The Results…

Old, difficult, heat set yellow stains:

On the thick, cotton table cloth, if dry cleaning or rerunning in laundry doesn’t work. On WHITE colors ONLY…use PermaGo.

PermaGo, or Potassium Permanganate, is a purple bleaching liquid that will remove old lipstick, makeup, ink or yellow stains. It can only be used on white fabrics.

It needs to be neutralized, after use.

PermaGo was the only agent strong enough to remove the yellow stain from the tablecloth.

Jeff Schwarz

The Stain Wizards answers a letter from readers, contact him by:

A. L. Wilson Chemical Co. (201) 240-9446 cell; 800-526-1188 office;

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