Ask The Clothing Doctor

Welcome to the CSC ServiceWorks laundry forum! I am Steve Boorstein, The Clothing Doctor. I will be your clothing care expert. I spent 20 years in the high-end drycleaning business, but I've also written four books on laundry and hosted two DVDs on clothing care, so I know about dirty laundry! Write me about caring for everything made from fabric; washing, cleaning, stain removal and storage.

Before I begin answering questions, let's get a few facts straight:

Before you treat a stain, make sure you know if it's watery or oily!

  • Water-based stains contain water, NO oil.
    • You can identify water-based stains such as coffee, wine, beer and blood because they have a ring around the outside (like a road map).
    • Water-based stains need water or club soda (and an occasional "stain stick").
  • Oil-based stains contain oil, but NO water, so water and soap will not help to remove them!
    • Oil-based stains such as butter, mayonnaise, and olive oil will look blotchy and have NO ring around the stain.
    • Most oily stains require drycleaning.
    • Oily stains that do not come out in the wash will look blotchy after washing.

Know a few first aid hints:

  • Never rub a fabric — blot only with a dry white cloth or napkin.
  • Be careful about putting water or club soda on dryclean-only clothing, such as silk and acetate, because they can bleed the dye and cause rings.
  • If in doubt, blot with a dry white cloth and STOP, until you can write me or show the garment to a professional.

Click on a category below to see frequently asked questions along with my helpful hints to keep your laundry clean!

Clothing Care
Color Bleeding

Are all detergents effective or do the more expensive ones clean better?

Answer: No, you usually get what you pay for. But unless the clothing is very soiled (use Tide) or very delicate (use The Laundress), most “average” detergents will do the job.

Every time I get a new sweater and wash it, little puffballs appear and ruin the sweater. What am I doing wrong?

Answer: I assume you are referring to “pill balls.” Pills often form because of friction; rubbing against a layer of clothing or a piece of furniture, or from rubbing against itself and other garments in the washing machine and dryer. Pills can also form because of the type and length of the yarn, and how “tightly" it is wound. Acrylic, cashmere and merino sweaters are the most susceptible to pill balls!

To minimize pilling, use mesh wash nets when washing and drying. This will keep the sweater from touching other garments during agitation. Quality also has a lot to do with pilling. Pill balls can often be improved or removed with a battery-operated depiller or a single-edge disposable razor. Depill slowly and check your work regularly, so you don’t thin the sweater too much! Look to the light to see how you are doing.

Steve, The Clothing Doctor

Hi, I just bought a new shirt with lace-type material around the neckline. The instructions said to tumble dry low, so I tumble dried low, and the detailing around the neckline came out all shriveled. I guess I should have let it air dry, but I was doing what the tag said! Is there a way I can stretch the lace part out again so the material around it isn't all puckered and weird?

- Chelsea

Answer: Hi Chelsea,

Sorry to hear about your troubles. You can re-wet the blouse and then air dry it (versus tumbling). You should lay it flat and then manually "flatten" the crochet bits, as they dry. This may restore some of the body and texture. You may even try an iron, if the care tag allows it (or even of or doesn't).

If that doesn't work, then the blouse should be returned to the retailer. This may not be possible, but clothing makers and retailers need to know if a garment is defective, or if it cannot withstand the care instructions. Returning the garment may be the only way the retailer will know that the blouse does not adhere to the labeling laws. This care label is actually in violation of the FTC labeling law, so feel good about keeping the manufacturer honest!

Good luck. Write back if you need further guidance on this matter!

Steve — The Clothing Doctor

I have a bunch of nice, career-wear shirts that say "hand wash only" on the tag. This is impossible at college! The sink in my community style bathroom is too gross, and washing it in the shower would make me a weirdo. What's the best way to clean these shirts using a washing machine?

- Chelsea

Answer: Hi Chelsea,

Thanks for writing. I agree with your assessment — and how hard it is to do "special" treatments on campus. (I live in Boulder, five blocks from the CU campus.) You didn't mention the fabric content, but most clothing that can or "should" be hand washed can also be machine washed on a delicate cycle. If the shirts look like they can withstand machine washing, then they probably can. It's hard to say for sure without seeing them — as there are often exceptions — but this is rarely the case with career shirts! I will list a few concerns and you can take it from there:

"Hot" colors such as red, deep green, blue, black and purple can bleed onto other garments the first time they are washed, so either hand wash separately, or machine wash alone.

Garments with stones, beads, and other ornamentation, may need hand washing, but can often be turned inside out and safely machine washed. (You can also buy a few mesh wash nets to help protect ornaments, available at Nets work well for loose socks, bras, and other small items.

Shirts like this may have a hand wash tag to avoid very hot water or to eliminate tumble drying —especially if they contain lycra/spandex or some other stretch material that weakens in high heat. Tumbling may cause shrinkage or fading, so check the tag for drying instructions and then consider tumble drying on low heat.

Lastly, if none of this makes sense, then call the manufacturer and ask the tech department. This process is actually easier to do than you'd think, but it might take 15 minutes to get the right phone number!

Good luck, and write back or call if you need additional help.

Steve — The Clothing Doctor

How do I keep my shirt collars flat without ironing?

- Jeff

Answer: Hi Jeff,

I will assume the shirts are made of cotton, as they typically get the most wrinkles. I assume you do not have a small travel iron for your dorm or don't want to buy one? I know ironing can be a pain and you do not have an ironing board. I can offer a few solutions to try, without the use of an iron, but without more information it's hard to be exact.

You can try smoothing the collars with your hand after washing, and before drying: Allowing the collars to dry in the "smoothed" condition. You may even want to try hanging the shirt and and air drying, as an experiment.

You could try re-wetting the collar after washing and drying, and then smoothing the collar by hand.

You could also purchase a travel steamer, small but efficient. it may not work on all wrinkles as well as an iron, but it's quicker. Visit

Lastly,you may want to ask a fellow female student to help you, as they may have more experience with this dilemma than you!

Best of luck,

Steve Boorstein — The Clothing Doctor

Hello! I am fighting bed bugs and would like to know if freezing my delicate clothing in my home deep freezer can damage them thanks

- amalia

Answer: Amalia, I am very sorry to hear that you have problems with bed bugs. Fact is, bed bugs are becoming the number one nuisance and epidemic. The bugs can be killed by exposure to extreme heat or extreme cold — like the cold in the freezer. I've had some experience with this, so I know it's very hard to beat them on your own, without professional help. I think it's best to share these steps so everyone can benefit:

  • Remove all covering or padding from the infected items, such as plastic bags, newspapers or cardboard. (They could aid in insulating the infected items.)

  • Place all affected items that in the freezer.

  • Keep the freezer at a constant temperature below 0 degrees Fahrenheit for two weeks. (Zero Fahrenheit equals -17 Celsius) Do not open freezer for prolonged because any fluctuations could allow bed bugs to "re-heat."

  • Allow two weeks before removing the affected items. Then place the items in an enclosed area, such as a bucket or tub filled with water. (This will trap any living bugs.)

  • If any are still moving around, put the infected items back in the freezer for an additional week.

This information came from a professional, so I wish you luck!
Steve — The Clothing Doctor

Hi there, I love all of my hoodies. They are my favorite type of clothing, but I have a slight problem. I usually let them hang dry because if I don't, they shrink and the zipper doesn't and it looks really bad. I accidentally put one of my hoodies in the dryer - is there any way to reverse this? And also is there a way to keep colored clothed from fading, like with cotton and polyester mixes? Thanks!

- John

Answer: John, first of all, you can re-wet the hoodie—spin it—and then lay it on a towel. Then gently "stretch" or re-block the body to the right size, easing out the fabric in relation to the zipper. Allow it to air dry on the towel, adjusting the shape as it dries. That should help the "injured" hoodie.

As for the fading, you can use some Oxi-Clean in the next load to help "set" the dyes, washing on the coolest water possible. If the hoodie is black, you can use some Back-to-Black, or some other dark dye restoration product to re-darken. If it's red or some other color, then wash in cooler water and cutdown wash times and agitation to reduce fading. I hope this helps!

The Clothing Doctor

I purchased a pair of 7 for All Mankind jeans that fit great when I tried them on (they are 98% Cotton, 2% Spandex). The saleswoman told me not to wash the jeans on hot/warm or dry them, as heat will ruin the elastic. But they have stretched out a LOT and the only way I know how to shrink clothing is to put it in the dryer! How do I keep my jeans the same size as when I purchased them without "ruining the elastic?" I want to be careful since they were expensive. Thanks in advance!

- Maddie

Answer: Maddie, I know about these jeans! First of all, the 2% spandex is supposed to minimize bagging and stretching. My question: have you tried washing as instructed, to start? If not, I would wash the jeans, as instructed, and then try them on. By the way, the elastic should not be ruined by one wash in warm water and a casual, warm drying cycle. I would try all this first and then get back to me! Happy holidays :)


The Clothing Doctor

I recently washed a brand new maroon shirt that I had only worn once and when I took it out of the washer to hang it for drying I noticed that there were some lighter spots on it, they weren't white spots and I didn't use bleach but they look like a lighter maroon color. This also happens when I was my husbands green shirts and there will be yellow spots on them also! What am I doing wrong?

Answer: Kristina, thanks for writing. This is a somewhat common problem with cotton shirts, especially with maroon, green, and other deep or rich colors. You did not mention the fabric content, so I'm guessing they are cotton. The reason is not easily answered because of the variables. It sounds like you either spilled or splattered something onto the garments, or there is a presence of some acidic chemical present, either from a body-care product or in the washing formula. "Light" areas or spots of the same color usually result from this type of exposure (If the spots were from bleach they would be whiter).

Green shirts often form yellow spots, but it's usually because of exposure to a cologne, perfume, hairspray, or some other chemical or spill. You could try to neutralize the color loss by touching the discolored area with a Q-Tip of diluted ammonia, to reverse acidic reaction, if that's what occurred. This is all conjecture because we do not know the origin of the spot, and I can't see it!!

Good luck. Let me know if you need more help!

Best — The Clothing Doctor

If I dyed a jacket in black, the jacket is 100% polyester on the outside and 70% cotton on the inside, will the dye bleed when I wash it? Thank you.

- Ana J. Pana

Answer: Hi Ana, thanks for writing. If you haven't dyed clothing before, you are in for an experience! You will find that each fabric reacts to the dye differently. The dyes could also bleed differently. I suggest the following: dye the fabric as hot as possible; rinse each piece after dying; and wash each piece a few times before wearing. This process should tell you if the dyes will bleed onto other clothing. TO TEST: After dying/washing/drying, use a white towel to rub the dyed area. This will tell you if the dyes appear to be "fast."

Good luck, The Clothing Doctor

I hang 90% of my clothes up after washing them. But with being in a dorm this year I won't have the space to hang all my clothes up. Any ideas?

- Sydney

Answer: Hi Sydney, do you own a wooden or metal drying rack? I know you have very little room, but many of the drying racks break down and fold up. You could set it up to dry your clothing and break it down to store in a closet or under your bed. Or, you could get a cascading hanger with metal clips that houses 8-10 skirts or pants. You might be able to find these hangers for blouses, as well.

Go on the net to see what you can find: The Clothing Doctor

Hi! I'm hoping you have advice on taking pills off lace. I have an old black lace shirt that my Daddy gave me, and I am scared to ruin it by using a razor blade! Is this safe? Is there a better alternative?? Thanks!

- Amber

Answer: Amber, there are battery-opertaed pill removers that work about as well as razor blades, and are often safer (sample on Amazon - However, it takes a subtle touch with either approach. You would drape the fabric over the palm of your hand and then gently run the blade or the shaver over the fabric, applying just enough pressure to shave off the pills, and nothing more. Start slowly and then look at the results. Blades tend to "grab" the fabric and cause snags more than the shaver. I hope this helps! You could also consult a great drycleaner in your area, if that's easier.

The Clothing Doctor - Steve Boorstein

Hi there! I am wanting your help. I just brought a new top loader washing machine and washed some new work jumpers (yellow factory jumpers). I washed them with Dynamo and they came out with sorta black stains on them, I think from the detergent. Every wash seems to be the same- doesn't matter how much detergent I put in. The question is, what have I done wrong?

- Rebecca

Answer: Rebecca, I don't think the detergent had anything to do with the black marks, but of course I'm not there to look at the jumpers. You may have a bad hose (that's spewing debris in the washer) or something going on with your machine. Detergent doesn't usually cause stains. If you had rust in your water or fabric softeners, perhaps—but those stains aren't usually black. I would start with experimentation and elimination; wash other items or towels under the same circumstances and see if they get marks. Let me know if I can suggest anything else to you!

The Clothing Doctor

Ahhh! Long story but I borrowed a vintage polyester dress from a very kind shopkeeper for a swing dance party this weekend. Her "dry-clean only" polyester, rayon, spandex blend halter dress had make-up stains on it. When I got home I used just a little water (bad idea!) to clean the white trim and caused dye transfer from the navy blue fabric. I plan to take it to dry cleaners first thing tomorrow. Is there hope?

- Amy

Answer: I am very sorry to hear that! This kind of dye bleed can be remedied, but it takes a very astute drycleaner. I don't think you can do anything yourself, as the dress says dryclean only—and you've seen what water did to the dye!
The Clothing Doctor

I recently just bought a 100% cotton shirt. I usually just always line dry my cottons but this particular shirt says "tumble dry low". It doesnt say pre-shrunk, so if I throw it in the dryer with the rest of my clothes on regular heat is it going to shrink? Thanks!
- Emily

Answer: Hi Emily, if you want to be very sure to minimize shrinkage then air dry. If you feel comfortable following the "Tumble Dry Low," then do that. If it shrinks then you should be able to return the shirt. However, fabric is always softer when tumbled, even for the first 5 minutes (and then air dry the rest)!

Good Luck — The Clothing Doctor

Hi! I recently bought a pair of maroon shorts. They were washed with darks but now that I'm back at college, I thought they would be fine with my other colored items in cold water since the shorts had been washed before but they bled over everything! I treated the stains twice and the pink came out of almost everything but a white and pink shirt and a pair of tan shorts still have pink splotches. Is there anyway to get the pink stains out and keep the original color of my clothes?
- Allie

Answer: Allie, sorry to hear about your troubles. Maroon is one of the most inconsistent dyes, as you've learned. Glad you were able to remove the loose dye from the other pieces. The white & pink, and the tan will be trickier. You could try using a RIT Dye Stripper, but it may pull the color form the garments—and not just the pink/maroon dye. If that seems too challenging, I would show it to the BEST drycleaner in town (the owner or spotter) to see what they have to say. Wish I could offer more advice!

Good Luck — The Clothing Doctor

My teenage son has numerous Merino wool shirts with huge anti-perspirant / sweat stains that will not come out. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

- Nancy Sparrow

Answer: Nancy, perspiration is normal, but it can be reduced by using a good deodorant/antiperspirant—and washing right after wearing. Do not let sit before washing, and do NOT allow your sone to wear the merinos more than once between washing. I would treat the underarms with a soapy solution as soon as he takes them off and then wash asap.

I hope that helps—The Clothing Doctor

Hi I need your professional help. Hope you can help me. I hand washed a 100% silk multi-color dress in cold water, because of a stain on the chest and ended up with color run on several places on the dress. I hung it up to dry. Label reads no dry cleaning no washing only spray spot stains by a professional. Is there anything I can do to get rid of these color runs from my dress. Thanking you in advance for your advice.

- Silvana

Answer: Silvana, sorry to hear of your problems, but I have to wonder what made you buy a garment with such a care instruction? We saw a number of pieces like this when I was in the drycleaning business, but we typically spot cleaned them, as instructed. I believe you need to seek out the BEST drycleaner you can find. Talk to the owner and see what they can do for you. Call me if you like: 303.443.3232

Best — The Clothing Doctor

I have a blouse, dry clean only, 100% polyester and sleeves 100% acetate it was dry cleaned with a red dress in a bag but the red still bled. Now the white is pink is there anything I can do to get back white? Please help soon.

- Gloria

Answer: Gloria, Are you saying that your blouse was drycleaned with a red dress and it bled onto your blouse? If so, then it seems to me that it would be the drycleaner's responsibility to restore it or replace it. The sleeves, or the part that turned pink—which to me is not clear by your description—may be restorable or "stripable," but again, it seems like it would be their responsibility because they washed it with a red item. Call if you want to talk further. 303.443.3232.

I wish you luck!
The Clothing Doctor

I washed and dried a cute logo shirt of my daughters with some of her other clothing. After she had worn it, I realized that something had faded onto it from the wash and is now dried in. The shirt is a bright blue with black designs on it. This was a brand new shirt and her first time wearing it, is there any hope in getting this fading out as it is in several places on the shirt. She loves this shirt! Please help!!!
- Donna

Answer: Donna, washable fabrics are usually responsive to dye-strippers, which is what will probably be needed to help remedy your situation. However, it is a very tricky process if you don't want to remove the original dye, as well. And it may not work anyway. I suggest that you take the shirt to the best drycleaner in town and speak with with the owner. I restored hundreds of pieces during my 20 years in the drycleaning business, but this may be difficult-to-impossible because of the colors.

I would re-wash the damaged item—and not dry it—and then re-inspect it If it's better, then wash it again. If it's not, then take it to the cleaners. But you have to speak to a technician. Feel free to contact me directly if you need more advice.

Best — The Clothing Doctor

Hello. My sister brought me a pretty jacket. It is so warm & comfortable, It was brought to me, when they went to Washington. I got home from work so tired, and I had to put a white load in. Without even realizing, that I had NOT yet taken off my jacket, I poured CLOROX in it - and, what happened - the dang thing splattered some bleach on my new jacket. I didn't know what to do. Is it salvable? Oh, PLEASE help me. I just can't get myself to throw it away. Thanxs

- Carolina Medina

Answer: Carolina, it's an honest mistake! There are chemicals that reverse the effects of bleach, but they usually don't work on dark and thick, absorbable cotton. You could try a drop of white vinegar (an acid that is at the opposite end of the Ph scale) to reverse the color loss, but it's a long shot. Leave the vinegar on a TEST area of white for 5 minutes. If it starts bringing back the color on one small splash, then add another drop to the same spot. If it's NO help, then rewash and allow to dry. I know this sounds unprofessional, and far from scientific, but I would then go to an art supply store to test different shades of dark blue markers to see if one would help to "cover" or disguise the white spots. It may not come out blue on the sweaty, but it may make the spots less visible. I hope this helps!

Hi Clothing Doctor, I have a blazer put in the car and expose to sunlight and heat unintetionally, the color faded and compared to the other sides. Please help. Thanks.

- Esther

Answer: Esther, this is usually a one-way condition, and cannot be improved. Fading removes color from the fabric, and cannot usually be reversed. If it's very light, your drycleaner may be able to add some mineral oil to darken the area, but it will "wash out" each time it's cleaned. Sorry, wish I had better news. We sell protective, breathable bags on, for future garments.

Best — The Clothing Doctor

Hoping you don't mind dispensing more advice. I allowed hard candy to melt in the pockets of a dry-clean-only coat. I took it to the dry cleaners and asked them to get it out of the pockets. I found another fairly large area of melted goo on the lining. Should I to take it back to them and point out the new mess -- or is there something I can do at home? I'm pondering things like Goo Gone but not sure how much is too much or if that will make my problem worse. Thanks
- Michael

Answer: Michael, I understand your frustration ... Bottom line, you should take it back to the cleaners, but this time you should speak to a manager or an owner, only. They obviously missed the 2x2 spot, which is lame, but forgivable if they remedy the situation. Using Goo Gone, or some such product, would probably breakdown the stain and remove it, but you would have to then have the pants recleaned anyway. Last ditch, if none of that works is to have the tainted part of the lining replaced.
Best of Luck — The Clothing Doctor

Hi I received a merino wool jumper back from my local dry cleaner and found two quite large black marks on the back of it that certainly were not there when I put it in for cleaning. As I've never experienced a problem with dry cleaning before, I'd already removed the receipt before noticing the stains. They rub off a bit black on my finger but I'm scared to do anything in case I make it worse. What could it be and how can I possibly get rid of it?

- Jayne MacArthur

Answer: Jayne, without seeing it, it sounds to me like a greasy smudge from the cleaners ... maybe picked up by a machine and went unnoticed during final inspection—if they did an inspection at all! If it is grease, then I would take it back to the cleaners and point it out. Washing will NOT help.

Best — The Clothing Doctor

I spot bleached some marks on a white table cloth and then washed it in the machine. Upon hanging it up to dry I saw there were purple stains on the cloth where I had bleached it. Am I able to rectify this? Thank you

- Michelle

Answer: Michelle, it could be the result of a color change between the bleach and the food/spill stain. Did you dilute the bleach, or use it full strength? If it's a chemical color change from putting a strong alkaline (bleach), then it may get better with a touch of white household vinegar (an acid), to reverse the alkaline color change. Call us at 800.300.9975 for more free info!

Best — The Clothing Doctor

My twin girls received a bunch of clothes for Christmas and I've never had a problem with colors bleeding, but this time not the case. Blue jean dye is now on most of the other clothes. Many colors like purple, pink, and white the blue is on them. They are all cotton but I have tried oxi, color safe bleach, and soaking them in hot water. Nothing has worked. They have been washed and dried a few times. What can I do? I can not afford to re-buy all of these clothes.
- Shana

Answer: Shana, it's a tough restoration, but you should know that drying the garments was a bad idea. Can you send me a digital picture from your phone? I know you'd like a quick and easy answer, but there isn't one. Sorry. Or you could call and talk with us about it. 800.300.9975

Best — The Clothing Doctor

I recieved a red hoodie with white lettering. I am afraid to wash it because I don't want the white lettering to turn pink. What can I do to prevent this? Thanks!
- Hollee

Answer: Hollee, first of all, while the hoodie probably has a wash instruction, it generally does NOT apply to the embossed lettering, so it's good you wrote. Red dye does so often bleed onto white parts. I can only say this; wash as instructed (ALONE or with other non-bleeding garments) and tumble dry, as instructed. If you follow the care label to the T, and it bleeds onto the white, you can take it back to the retailer. Let us know!

Best —The Clothing Doctor

Hi - When I wash any red item, it gets a dark stain on it. When I wash the red item it is always with other items that have been washed many times. So I don't think there is any bleeding of colors. Yet somehow I get a stain on the shirt. I could wash a red tee shirt 5 times then the next time I wash it, it stains. The stains appear always a blueish color, and do not cover the entire shirt but a spot 1x3" here and there. I use Gain liquid. Should I give up wearing red?
- Bonnielie

Answer: Bonnielie, While I've seen these issues before—and it's entirely strange that it only happens on red garments—it usually turns out to be a result of something bizarre or unintuitive, so you have to think outside the box! My guess is that it's one of these things: there is a latent stain on the ALL the red garments, that once it mixes with the detergent and the drying cycle it causes it to turn blue; that you use some kind of body lotion, hair product, or such that contains an acid that causes the blotchy spots to appear; that the machine is intermittently leaking an oily mess that shows blue on red, and it just happens on red items?

These weird occurrences are always hard to solve, so you have to keep thinking and experimenting. Do you use any fabric softeners, as they can cause similar discolorations? Call us if you'd like to discuss it live!
Best —The Clothing Doctor

I have a black evening suit made of cotton & silk. I tried to remove a stain and I rubbed out the color. How can I restore the stain that should look black? I wanted to dye it but I was told that the suit can shrink, so I took it back home. Please help it's my best suit. Thanks!
- Chana Zorger

Answer: Chana, how large is the affected area; dime, quarter, or larger? There are ways to cover up or darken color loss, but it will need re-treatment after every cleaning. Needless to say, NEVER rub a stain; BLOT only! Did you use a napkin to do the damage? Some drycleaners have "Dye Pads" that would restore the color, or you might try going to an art supply store and testing magic makers and other pigments, a small area at a time. I know this sounds hokey and unprofessional, but color loss is difficult to restore.

Call if you need help! — The Clothing Doctor

I have a gray hand wash only shirt that 60% cotton & 100% polyester shirt and when it dried it has a maroonish tint all over it now. How can I get it out?
- Reba Roberts

Answer: Reba, I have no idea without seeing it, but I would try rewashing at the hottest temperature allowed, and air dry it. If you want to send a photo ... If you still can't solve the issue, take the blouse to the best drycleaner in town for another opinion.

Let me know if you need more help — The Clothing Doctor

I have a navy blue jacket with white trim and white like netting inside that has been washed and dried and the blue has now discolored the white trim and on the inside. Is there anything I can do to get the white back white?? I have already soaked in hot water with clorox 2 over night and that didn't bring it out.. Thanks
- Jennifer Stacy

Answer: Stacy, you would probably have to remove the white netting and dye-strip, or beach just the netting, then resew and reattach to navy jacket. However, if you followed the care instructions, and it failed in washing, then the garment should go back to the retailer (and manufacturer).

Best — The Clothing Doctor

I washed a neon pink sweatshirt w/ a neon yellow sweatshirt, the pink faded on yellow, dried it before I realized on low heat, any advice on how to get it out?
- Celeste

Answer: Celeste, this is a very difficult restoration because neon colors can have a pigment that's hard to remove, especially when talking about hot pink, and cotton fabrics (or blended fabrics). I would try rewashing the yellow sweaty, and then air drying it. If still no luck, and you really want to try and "save" the sweaty, then I would show it to a great drycleaner. Again, I hate to always recommend a cleaner—as folks hope to fix it themselves with my advice—but it's hard to give pat answers when I can't see the garment and when the consumer has already tried various approaches that compromise future removal by a professional!
Good Luck — The Clothing Doctor

Hello, Can I hand wash a shirt that is 55% Linen and 45% Rayon? If so, any special considerations?
- Susan

Answer: Susan, first of all, I usually acquiesce to the care instruction label; does it say it can be washed? Linen is usually washable (depending on the color, which you did not mention), but it can fade, change texture (softness), and may develop "hard" wrinkles. The rayon part may shrink or lose body, too—and may even bleed or fade. Re-check the label and, if you decide to wash it, hand wash it and air dry it, just to make sure it makes it through that process. In the long run, it may make sense to dryclean it, but if you are comfortable with hand washing, give it a shot! I would like to know the color, first, before giving you a full pass!

Best - The Clothing Doctor

I have a 100% polyester backpack that has its fair share of stains from various things. The pack is lime green, electric blue, black and white multicolored. I'm wondering if I can wash and dry it (and how) and if I can use Shout stain remover on the spots. Thanks!

- Mason

Answer: Mason, If it's like most packs, it would probably wash well. Tuck in straps and hardware, or use a mesh net to protect the hardware. (They are avail on You could test a small part of the pack by dabbing it with some water and detergent to see if the dyes are secure. You should maybe air dry the pack, after washing.

Best - The Clothing Doctor

My suit coat got wet at the bottom so I let it air dry and now it has a water stain. How can I get rid of that stain?

- Alex

Answer: Alex, you did not mention the color or fabric of the suit, but it may need professional help! Fabrics that get wet and form a ring or a stain are usually a result of impurities in the water, or sizings in the fabric. Either way, they are usually removed by re-wetting the area and then drying it quickly to avoid another ring or stain. However, the trick is to wet the fabric enough to flush or force the stained matter from the fabric, but not to over-wet it, causing a bigger stain. Let me know if I can be of further help! 303.443.3232

Best - The Clothing Doctor

What types of materials and stains can't be dry-cleaned? And what types of materials and stains can be dry-cleaned?

Answer: Jenny, most oily, and oil-based stains do very well with drycleaning; food oil, body oil, wax, lipstick—and all things containing grease or oil. Drycleaning does NOT remove water-based stains naturally during the cleaning cycle. Soda, coffee, perspiration, food coloring, sugars, and all other water-soluable (need water to remove) are worked specifically by hand, or wetcleaned. The better the drycleaner, the better the water-based stain removal.
Best — The Clothing Doctor

My daughter has a new grey sweatshirt with white and black silk-screened lettering. I washed in warm water with a non-colorfast red sweater by accident. The grey sweatshirt is still grey, but the white letters are light pink. Is there a way to whiten the letters without damaging them or the sweatshirt?
- Jon Eggert

Answer: Jon, sorry to hear about your troubles. These are touchy restorations, so I'm going to suggest that you take it to a good drycleaner to discuss the options. The raised lettering (I'm assuming) can sometimes be restored, but it will take more than just soaking in color-safe bleach, but you could try it, without a disaster, I believe.
Good luck. Write back if you need more info!
Best — The Clothing Doctor

Hello! I spilled rubbing alcohol on my purple jeans. Will it fade?
- Quineice Vaughn

Answer: Quiniece, it's hard to say if the fabric will fade, but there are typically 2 issues at hand here; the purple dye is usually NOT as firm or strong as typical blue jean dye, and the purple may be as fragile as blue indigo dye; secondly, if you rubbed it, then it could fade. I would just wash and air dry, as usual. If you have a problem, or experience fading or color loss get in touch!
Best — The Clothing Doctor

Hello Clothing Doctor, I just bought a new off white and navy blue viscose/spandex dress. The first day I wore it a few tiny drops of coffee spilled on it. I immediately tried to spot with water and a mild detergent. Now I have rings where I spot washed. : ( The dress says dry clean only but I didn't think spot washing it would be a problem. Can these rings be removed by a professional dry cleaner? Please advise.
- Kim

Answer: Hi Kim, that's one of the best lessons to learn ... early on. Most water-based stains that have color, such as coffee, do form a ring when water, soap or stain removers are applied. The viscose does pose a challenge, but as long as you did not RUB the fabric, a good drycleaner should be able to remove the ring. In the future, be very careful when applying water or soap to dryclean only garments. If it was washable, the coffee and the ring may have "come out in the wash," as they say!
Best — The Clothing Doctor

I keep having deodorant stains show up on my very expensive, dry clean only items after they have been dry cleaned. When I show up to pick up the item there is a white or bleached look under the arms. This has happened twice at two different cleaners even after I have asked that they pre-spot or pre-treat under the arms for these invisible stains. Both cleaners have stated that the item they cleaned is ruined. Is there anything I can do? Will perspiration alone do this to clothing?
- Marissa

Answer: Marissa, these "stains" could be part perspiration, part DEO, part fabric degradation. You did not mention the fabric content, so I don't know if it contains acetate, or some other delicate fabric. The underarm (U/A) "stain, could be a combination of DEO, perspiration, and the cleaner's attempt to remove the discoloration, possibly causing some of the color loss or whitening. I really would suggest that you call me directly at 303.443.3232, to do address this thoroughly, but here are some of the issues:

What is the exact fabric content
What is the color of the garment (dark colors tend to show DEO stains more)
Do you perspire more than the average person
Do you allow your DEO to dry completely before dressing
Do you bathe after each wearing
AND do you ever wear the noted dress(s) more than once between cleaning
I hope this helps!
Best — The Clothing Doctor

I have just bought a lagoon blue comfort colors tshirt. Within hours of buying it, I spilled red koolaid on it. I've had a comfort colors shirt get stained before and used spray and wash to get it out...well the original stain was gone but here see I sprayed the spray and wash, there were huge white!
- Dallas

Answer: Hi Dallas, without seeing the shirt it's hard to say ... so I have some questions, which you can answer on Forum, or directly to me:

Did you rewash the shirt after applying the Spray & Wash? Is that when the white blotches appeared?
Did you rub the fabric with the S&W on it? Could the splotches be color loss or fading?
Can you email a picture of the blotches to
Best —The Clothing Doctor

I have just recently bought a pair of jeggings, and I absolutely ADORE them. I just love the way they fit me, and are oh so comfy. But here's the catch: These jeans contain dyes that rub off on other clothing. How can I prevent this from happening?
- Jennifer

Answer: Hi Jennifer, my guess is that these jeans are an Indigo Blue? I need to ask if you've washed the jeans ... and how many times? The "loose" dye should dissipate after a few washings. Are the leggings a lighter color, and have they been washed ... with any success?

Please get back to me.
Best — The Clothing Doctor

I have a few white linen skirts that are now dingy. What can I do to make them white-white again. Thanks!
- Candice

Answer: Hi Candice, the only way to brighten linen is through wetcleaning (controlled washing,) and possibly bleaching. It works quite well, actually. What to consider first:

If the skirt is lined, and sewn in at the bottom & sides, then I would send it to the best drycleaner in town to do the work because of shrinkage and loss of sizing.
If the skirt is unlined—and you're ok with hand washing—then it can probably be soaked in detergent & color-safe bleach for 30-60 minutes and AIR DRIED. Any sink or bucket works.
If the skirt is hand washed and bleached, it could lose it's sizing, leaving it limp. A good drycleaner could add back sizing and re-press it for you.
Submerge the skirt in 6" of warm water and watch it brighten over the hour. Then rinse and lay flat on a white towel.
Gently "shape" the linen to be flat and even at the hem. Let dry and adjust as necessary.

Good Luck — The Clothing Doctor

I washed a sweater on gentle and laid it flat to dry but now it has lines all through it. Is there any way to get it back to normal. I've had this happen before.
- Dianne

Answer: Hi Diane, I am not sure what the lines are, but I'm guessing it's from uneven drying. Not knowing the fabric, I can't recommend anything along those lines, but I would re-wet or re-wash it, spin it, and lay it over 2 hangers (too avoid stretching and bagging), to see if that helps. It's possible that re-wetting or re-washing and lying it flat will work the second time.

Good Luck — The Clothing Doctor

Hi, I recently bought a heavy cotton jacket in Italy and it has black piping on the inside of the jacket. I accidentally got some oil on it while having dinner and decided to hand wash it with my facial soap (silly me I did not read the tag which said dry clean only). Now the outside of the jacket has bled with the black color of the piping inside. Is there anything I can do to save this jacket? I love this jacket and have only worn it once! Thank you for your help!
- Anna Limcaoco

Answer: Anna, I'm sorry to hear that! You did not mention the color of the jacket, only that it has black piping. However, this type of dye bleed (from the black piping) is very hard to remove because cotton is absorbent and because the jacket is so thick—and, with all due respect, you would only make it worse. I would not mess around and just take it to the BEST drycleaner in town! Write me directly if you'd like a recommendation your home town.

Good Luck — The Clothing Doctor

Hello, so I have a lot of "Comfort Colors TM" t-shirts/tanks (100% cotton) from school functions. I've washed them at school with no problems, but when I got home and started washing them in our HE washer they've been bleeding onto one another even in cold wash! And the stains won't come out but simply fade after many many cycles in the wash. I haven't dried them yet so as to not set the stains. What's going on?
- Timothy

Answer: Timothy, it's hard to nail down an answer without seeing the garments, but I'm guessing that the cause could be a combination of the HE detergent used at home and the "aggressive" nature of a front load HE washer that may have loosened the dyes. Have you been sorting the Tanks by color, at all? Have you tried rewashing one tank, apart from the others to see if it still bleeds? You would probably have to use a weakened dye-stripper to restore the tanks, but the process could fade or ruin the tanks. Let me know if I can be of further help. I could call the manufacturer ... or you could. I hope this helps!

Good Luck — The Clothing Doctor

Hi- I have a light purple sweatshirt that's started to turn pink around the neck when washed. What can I do to reverse this?
- Gavin

Answer: Gavin, I need more information to help you, but when a garment ONLY changes color at the neck or underarms, it's usually the result of perspiration, body oils, medicine or cologne. Has anything changed in your personal hygiene, detergent, or anything else you can think of? Is it a "color change," or fading, or the result of something you've done or changed? I would need to know more, or see a picture. You can email it to

Best - Steve, The Clothing Doctor

Hi there, I am having problems every time I have to hand wash my cheerleading top (It is lycra, mainly navy blue with panels of cerise pink and white) all the colors run into the white. Now the white part is a mix of patchy pink and is now a dark grey color instead of white. Can I restore it? Do u have any tips for the next time? I always delay washing it after each competition as I am scared to ruin it!
- Klair

Answer: Klair, what an interesting name! Do the other girls have the same problems with their outfits? Lycra doesn't usually bleed. Are you following the same washing directions as the other girls; water temp, detergent, time of cycle? I would try rewashing as HOT as possible, since it's already "ruined." If no luck, then give it to co-cheerleading friend and ask them to wash it If nothing works, I's try and get a refund on the old outfit, and then order another. It's usually a process of elimination, but if it's only happening to you and your outfit, then do the math! As for fixing it, you would have to try a dyestripper, which is a skilled process. Good Luck!

Best - Steve, The Clothing Doctor

Hi, I recently washed my sweater which is made of Cotton/nylon/Lycra® spandex in a 14-gauge knit and I hung it to dry. I noticed that it was wrinkly where it had hung on the rack, but it also looks as if the dye has stained the sweater in the same area where it was wrinkled, if that makes sense. I know now that I should have laid it flat, but is there anything that I can do to even out the color? It is a dark teal-ish color. Thank you.
- Carol Unfreed

Answer: Carol, I am familiar with this dilemma. I would start by rewashing and laying flat, if that's what the care instruction calls for. Sometimes the condition you tell can be restored by this process. I was wondering if it can be dried in a machine, or only by laying flat? Loose dyes sometimes "fix" themselves by rewashing and tumble drying (if it won't shrink or stretch out of shape by drying in a machine). Hope this helps!

Best - Steve, The Clothing Doctor

Hi, Can you please tell me what the best way to get stains out of white linen? I've tried non-chlorine bleach and it has worked, but I am not sure if I am soaking it long enough. I'm not sure what the stains are. Thanks!
- Carol

Answer: Carol, removing stains from white linen may be the easiest process around, as it's white and it's linen! You can spot clean, wash, bleach—even in diluted Clorox, as well as non-chlorine bleach. A few things … stained garments should be washed before bleaching; sometimes it takes 30-60 minutes of soaking, after washing; and, if the stain that won't come out is yellowish, and does NOT have a distinct ring around the stain, then it may be OILY—which would explain why it did not come out (as oil usually does not come out in the wash). I would try drycleaning, as oily stains typically come right out in drycleaning.

Best - The Clothing Doctor

Hi! My husband has several custom made, light weight wool jackets. The jackets have a slight sheen to them which makes the stains very noticeable. They have each accumulated some light tan make up stains on the shoulders from hugging some of our friends. Some of these make up stains have been on there for months. Is there anything you can recommend for us to do at home to get the make up stains out? He really does not want to take them to a dry cleaner. Thanks for your help!
- Mary

Answer: Hi Mary, the slight sheen sounds like the wool may be gabardine. Gabs tend to shine on the elbows, collar and lapels—and it's usually a result of poor pressing. They can also show as a result of a stain. As for caring for these garments at home, I would not recommend that because you do not have the tools and the skills. Bottom line, find the BEST drycleaner in town and take the jackets to the owner to assess. Call the most expensive clothing store in town and ask what cleaner they use.

Best - The Clothing Doctor

I got car oil stains all over my clothes when I changed the oil. There is a warning on the washer and dryer saying that it is unsafe and highly flammable to wash anything with any type of oil, even cooking oils, in it. I googled how to remove oil stains and I haven't seen anyone mention the potential dangers. Is it safe to wash clothing with a lot of car oil on them or should I throw them away?
- Heather N.

Answer: Hi Heather, oils can ignite, but not usually in a home washer. If you have as much as a half a can of oil, then take it to the drycleaners for two reasons; oils of ALL kind come out in drycleaning, and may not at home unless you have a steam washer, and cleaners do this all the time. Ask that they NOT press your clothing and it will be cheaper!!

Best - The Clothing Doctor

I had white linens on the clothesline. When I removed the clothes from the line, they had huge yellow stains on them. I was horrified. It was very strange some were fine/clean, others looked ruined. I have tried soaking them in the washer in liquid Tide and Clorox 2. I'm kind of afraid to use the clothesline after this. Do you know of any way to remove these stains? I have been soaking them and resoaking for 3 days now.
- Caroline

Answer: Caroline, this is a very complex issue, but I will give it my best. Are you saying that you have yellow stains on ALL of these pieces, or just the napkins and table cloths? First, napkins and table linens often contain oily residue from foods and grease. Oils and grease usually go on clear, and yellow after washing and drying (in a dryer or on a line in the sun). This is the easiest explanation for the yellowing on the linens … as for the rest of the clothing, I cannot say. If something in the air caused the yellowing, then it would probably have yellowed ALL the pieces equally. Please review this email and get back to me by email or phone to try and resolve. By the way, if the yellow stains are Water-Based, then soaking and bleaching would hop remove the yellowing, but if the staining was from oily foods, then bleach does NOTHING.

Best — The Clothing Doctor

My daughter has an autoimmune disease that requires her to wear aquaphor on an area of her body all the time. The result is that she has dark stains on all her clothes now. She is getting ready to start school and we don't have money to replace all of her clothes so I was hoping we could figure out a way to just remove the stains since all of her clothes fit fine. Thanks in advance!
- Megan

Answer: Megan, I know all about this problem. Any product that contains petroleum, or petroleum-related products such as Aquaphor, will occasionally need drycleaning, as the process removes most oily stains. Aquaphor contains 41% petroleum, which is the reason for your dark stains; that and the fact that cotton absorbs oils and doesn't let go easily. The manufacturer acknowledges the oily issue, and recommends a product called carbon #7 to help remove the dark residue. I suggest two things; try the Carbona, as soon as possible after wearing, as directed, and then wash the garments as hot as the care label allows, as hot water and detergent help emulsify and break down oily stains (and always air dry to make sure the stain is removed before drying in the machine. If that does not work, drycleaning will almost always remove oily stains.

HINT: If you decide to dry-clean stubborn stains, on better or favorite clothing, find an inexpensive drycleaner (if her system can handle the solvent), talk to the owner, and ask that they dry-clean, but NOT press, so you can get the oily spots out, without paying the UP-charge for pressing, which is often the lion's share of expense.

Best — The Clothing Doctor

Hi Clothing Doctor! I sweat all the time and have my whole life. I’ve never had a problem with sweat stains showing up on my clean laundry until I’ve recently moved to FL. I haven't changed deodorants or anything but since I’ve moved all my nice shirts are becoming ruined - under the arms only - from grey-ish sweat stains. What is this from and how can I remedy it? Also is there any way to salvage some of my ol' favorite shirts? -Thanks
- Charlie L

Answer: Charlie, yellowed or discolored underarms are usually a result of perspiration that has NOT been removed completely and has "oxidized" or aged—hence taking on the yellow or grayish color. If you perspired in a garment, and did not wash it after wearing, or if it was washed but not completely stain free, then discolorations like you describe can appear, especially after 48-72 hours. If the shirts are cotton, you could load a sink with hot water, add detergent and color-safe bleach, and allow then to soak for an hour or so. To be safe, you could air dry them after bleaching and rewashing, just to make sure the stains came out before putting in the dryer. This process MAY help your already discolored shirts, and minimize damage in the future.

Bottom line, Florida is very humid, and it may be aggravating your condition. I would make sure to rinse the underarms with a soapy solution directly after wearing, to "lift" away some of the chloride salts that come from your body and deposit into the underarms. You could use an old toothbrush to brush soapy solution into the underarms, and to flush the salts out of the fabric. Allowing perspiration to sit in your shirts, until they are washed, is probably aggravating the situation. Please let me know if I can help any other way?

Good Luck — The Clothing Doctor

Hey, I just stumbled across your site (crazy to find another boulder local!) while trying to find answers on how to stop spandex from getting all pill ball-y. I've got a black shirt that's 90% polyester and 10% elastic which I absolutely adore, hand wash only and no drying. What's happening is right in the front, there's a "thin" looking spot. Like it wants to pill ball but hasn't yet. I haven't washed it yet but any tips help. Thanks!
- Lisa

Answer: Hi Lisa, yes, I live on Pearl! I'd be glad to look at your shirt live, if we could meet somewhere near the both of us. In the meantime, spandex, especially in black, can "lose" dye, and the surface material can start to crock or break down in areas. Washing may exacerbate the condition, but it will need to be washed at some point! If you can't meet live, then please send me a digital picture to I can't really advise, with out seeing the affected area.
Let me know — The Clothing Doctor

I just bought a shirt that is white on the back and dark navy and white stripes on the front. The tag reads Self: 100% Rayon Contrast: 65% polyester, 35% rayon. It says to hand wash cold and lay flat to dry. I hand washed in cold water and hung to dry. When the item dried it left blue lines down the front. I then tried to soak it in Clorox 2 but that didn't do anything. Not sure if there is anything I can do to save the shirt. Thanks! - Candice

Answer: Candice, that's a whole lot of problems! There may be a way to restore the shirt, though it could cost a lot of money, as it would need to be done by a professional, and the front may have to be removed from the back—and still may not be saved. My professional opinion is to return the shirt to the store, and here's why: Yes, it may be restorable, but the maker (manufacturer) and retailer need to know that you followed the care instructions and STILL had a problem. It may be salvageable, but if you can get another shirt, I'd go that direction.

In the future, and these words of wisdom apply to everyone … Multi-colored garments, especially with black, red, purple—and other dark and bright colors—should almost ALWAYS be machine dried, as many dyes will migrate or bleed when left hanging.

Hope this helps — The Clothing Doctor

I have several cotton sublimation dyed T's and shirts that seem to ball up and stick to themselves when washed. I use detergent plus fabric softener, always cold wash and low dry, Sometimes I hang dry. How do I return them back to their original form? What do I need to do or change? The nylon or poly blends also do it to some extent but not as severe as the cotton. Thank you
- Sue

Answer: Sue, I am checking on this, but the biggest reasons for the balling or sticking; underloaded washer (add a towel to the load); item laying next to items too long, and dried that way; hang drying … Some pieces do better with tumbling, but it depends on the number of pieces in the machine, and what they are. I will keep working on a solution, but I hope this helps to start. Most of the time this happens, the T's have been hand painted or silk-screened.
Best — The Clothing Doctor

I bought a tee shirt on the beach in Tortuga. It is dark blue- or was. I tried to wash it many times but blue dye keeps pouring out. I wore it once but the dye bled onto other clothes while I wore it. Is there any way I can stop it from bleeding? I really like the tee shirt but can't wear it.
- Nancy

Answer: Nancy, dyes can can be synthetic or "natural," from berries and vegetables—and both can be unstable. And some dyes will NEVER be stable because the dyes were never SET properly. Many beach T's have not been prepped and stabilized properly; meaning, dyed at very hot temps and cured, rewashed … etc. And, the darker the dye (navy, red, purples), the more it can bleed. I'm not sure if you've been washing the T in cold water or hot, but you need to find the right approach.

While what you're describing is very familiar, it can be hard to resolve. You have a few options to try: rewash the T alone, or with "like" dark colors; wash it as HOT as possible, 5-10 times. If you have the room for shrinkage, I'd dry the T as hot as possible to help set the dye after washing. I know this seems like a lot of work for something that may never be fixed, it's the only "after-market" advice I have for you.

Good Luck — The Clothing Doctor

My wife has accused me of shrinking her polyester trousers because I washed them on a mixed load 40 degree wash and 1200 spin. She thinks I should wash them on a delicate 40 degree 800 spin. Is she right?
- Tim

Answer: Hey Tim, I have been called a home-wrecker before, so take this with a grain of salt!! Most poly fabrics (if it's really 100% poly), do not shrink, not even in warm water and high-spin. You did not mention if you've been drying the trousers … Even so, poly usually remains stable, size wise. So, I'm sticking by my guns to say that cold (or colder) water, and high spin will not shrink poly clothing. If anything, the high spin might batter the fabric and stitching over time, but mostly it just leaves the garment trip dry!

Be well — The Clothing Doctor

I put a new red/pink cotton top in with my whites and everything white including a grey cotton sweater turned pink. How do I restore to original color
- Sheila

Answer: Sheila, washable fabrics are usually responsive to dye-strippers, which is what will probably be needed to help remedy your situation. However, it is a very tricky process. Bottom line, if ALL the white-turned -pink garments are completely white, and cotton, then you may be able to "strip out" the pink dye from the white pieces.

•First, I'd rewash ALL the white garments (without a red one in the washer with them!), with plenty of detergent and the hottest water possible. AIR DRY - NO tumble with heat.
•If pinkish dye remains, soak ALL the white garments in color-dafe bleach for 30-60 minutes — in a sink or bucket. Rinse in clean water and AIR Dry.
•me process in a bucket or sink with a DYE Stripper. You can get RIT brand strippers. Follow directions to the T
•If you don't feel comfortable doing this, and can afford for a cleaner to do the stripping, then that's an option. But be sure to get a prognosis first, or do just ONE garment first.

Sorry for the LONG response, but these things are not easy, and they require patience and skill.

Best of Luck — The Clothing Doctor

Hi, I have a shirt that has a black trim color and the body is a black, brown and white design. Its 95% rayon, 5% spandex. I've had it for a while and it's always washed in cold water with other colors, I use a color safe bleach as well, and a laundry stain booster. Lately the white parts are looking dingy and dull. Is there any way to brighten the white back up? It's one of my favorite tops but it just doesn't look as good anymore...
- Jessica

Answer: Jessica, this is a common occurrence, even with legitimately washable fabrics. Color blocking of white and brown and other darker shades into the same garment almost always makes the white part dingy over time. The use of color safe bleach is a great step but, if that doesn't clear the gray or dingy pigment from the white, then you have few choices. You might try soaking it longer, and perhaps making a stronger batch of color-safe bleach. That's about it.

Hope this helps —The Clothing Doctor

I work in a pizza restaurant. We wear white 100% cotton t-shirts. Of course, I wind up with pizza sauce on my shirts all the time (the sauce does contain olive oil). I pretreat stains with an oxyclean gel when I get home, and then launder within a few days. Most of the time the stains come out. Sometimes they do not. Any ideas on what else I can do besides wasting the soap, water and electricity to wash one t-shirt by itself each night I work?
- Hillary

Answer: Hillary, you have done almost everything right! Treating the stain with Oxi-Gel is good, doing it that night is good … not washing for days does not help. I suggest a few changes that might help:

• After treating the affected areas with the gel, gently brush the area with an old toothbrush to help open up the stain and get the gel INTO the fabric.
• Allow it to absorb in to the stains for 10 minutes and then rinse with cold water
• Try to wash it within a day. Throw in a towel or some other light-colored clothing to complete a small load. Waiting 3 days is a killer
• If you think that there could still be a residue of tomato sauce, after washing, then DO NOT tumble dry—air dry only
• If it's better, but not gone, then soak in color-safe bleach or Oxi-Clean Versatile for 30-60 minutes. That should remove all or most of the colored residue.

By the way, very good catch on recognizing that there was oil in the sauce!!!

Best—The Clothing Doctor

I accidently got water stains on a dress I was repairing for a friend. It is black velvet on top and gray and black print on bottom,its the bottom that is water stained I tried Energine spot remover with no luck. My friend told me to try hydrogen peroxide that didnt work either if theres no solution Iam off to the dry cleaners. It is dry clean only. Hope I havent done even more harm with these home remedys
- Kathy

Answer: Kathy, you are asking one of the all-time difficult questions! Velvet can be made from cotton, silk or acetate, and cotton is the ONLY fabric that is not affected by water (sweat or moisture). The Energine and peroxide only added to your problems. If the velvet is silk or acetate, you will need to find VERY experienced drycleaner to try and restore the crushed areas of the velvet, pile nap: it's a difficult task, even for the best of them. Tell me where you live, and I might be able to recommend someone.

Good Luck — The Clothing Doctor

I have a green 100% poly shirt which I wore for the first time and sadly it now has sweat patches in the under arms. I was wearing deodorant so I'm guessing it's a mix of that and sweat causing the stain. I don't want to set the stains or ruin the shirt. The label says: Hand wash cold, with like colours, inside out, only non-chlorine bleach when needed, hang dry, iron low if needed. Please let me know if I can save the shirt.

Answer: Jessie, you are very perceptive in noting the mixture of perspiration and DEO. You should be able to wash the shirt without issue. In the future, you can feel safe pre-treating and/or washing perspiration stains on washable items, without concern.

The Clothing Doctor

I have a dress from coast which is pinky/nude colour on the top with black beads. The dress is 100% polyester on the outer and has 2 linings - one 100& polyester and the other 100% Acetate. I got the dress dry cleaned as the labels says to dry clean only, and the beads have appeared to have become hot during the dry cleaning and the black has rubbed of onto the top of the dress and stained! Is there anything I can do to get rid of this as I no longer have the receipt to return it.
- Karen

Answer: Karen, I'm sorry to hear that! However, if you followed the care label (which apparently does not address the beaded parts … typical!), I would still take it back to the retailer, even without the receipt, for an exchange, if that's the only thing they'll offer. There are laws about this. On the other hand, you could see if the cleaner has any more skills to remove, lighten, or disguise the affected areas.

The Clothing Doctor

I have stains from deodorant on my white t shirts. The stains are actually a light purple. I have tried everything and nothing has seemed to work Any suggetions? Thanks
- Christopher Raney

Answer: Christopher, it sounds like there might be some dye or colored DEO in the mix. Fortunately, the T-shirt is cotton, and it's white. But you will need to identify what's causing the problem, because I can only advise you so far, without first knowing the cause. With that said ...

•Make a mixture of soap & water (in a squirt bottle)
•Apply it liberally to the underarms of the T as soon as you remove the shirt, and then use an old toothbrush to get it into the fiber, until you can wash it.
•Wash as HOT as possible
•If that doesn't help, then get soak the T, after washing for 30-60 minutes in a sink with color-safe bleach or OXI Versatile.
•If that still doesn't remove the purplish stain, the buy some RIT dye stripper or some other product to "strip out the remaining purple.

Let me know if you need more help!
The Clothing Doctor

I keep Vaseline in my car for chapped lips. Two days ago, it was hot...the Vaseline melted & I accidentally dripped it on a pair of green, washable,99% cotton/1% spandex pants. I put Spray & Wash on it...didn't come out; rubbed it w/Ajax degreasing dish didn't come out. Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks! :)
- Andrea Thorn

Answer: Andrea, I have mentioned the answer to this problems numerous times on this Forum, but I will gladly say it again, as SO MANY people need to get it straight!! Oily type stains from Vasoline, french fry grease, butter, wax, and a host of other oily-type foods usually require drycleaning, as the solvent typically removes oily stains. On occasion, washing and drying can SET the oily stain, but it will still usually come out in dry-cleaning. To reduce the cost, ask the cleaner to clean ONLY—and do NOT press, if that works for you :)

The Clothing Doctor

I have a 100% rayon fuschia colored blouse-machine washable in cold water separately, and line dry. After washing the blouse in cold water, and line drying, I saw dark colored spots on the garment. There is a gold two inch embellishment that I think is the culprit. Is there anything I can do to remove the dark discolorations? Also, is there anything I can do to stop future color discolorations to the blouse?
-Mama D

Answer: Hello Mama D … embellishments, which can bleed (or in your case, perhaps tarnish), are NOT regulated by the care label on your fuchsia blouse. It's a flaw in the national care labeling laws. In reality, the blouse should go back to the retailer, so they and the manufacturer know they have a problem. However, most tarnish or oxidation can be removed by a drycleaner. Don't know if the gold pieces can be removed, and then resewn after washing, but that would be one way to go, AFTER the stains are removed. If they cannot be removed, I would return it to the store. You followed the care label and that's all you can do.

The Clothing Doctor

I have a hoodie that is fluffy on the inside. The tag indicates to be washed at 30 degrees, plus a line under the symbol, but my mom washed it at 60. The fluff inside became hard and with little balls attached. Is there a way to reverse this? I just love this hoodie and the shop can't change it, as it was the last one...
- Maria

Answer: Maria, I am not sure that you gave the water temp correctly, or it's in Celsius, as 30 degrees is below freezing. Anyway, I don't know if this was the FIRST washing, but I don't think it's a result of the temperature for washing. Though pilling like you describe, is very common, and the pills can be shaved off, but it takes patience and skill, so as NOT to thin the fleece too much! Some linings and some inner materials can turn stiff and PILL. It's hard to advise you without know the history of the piece; washed before; if dried in machine … Sight unseen, I would say to rewash it and tumble it to see if it softens, and then you can deal with the pills. I hope this helps, but you can always write back!

The Clothing Doctor

There is a dark navy blue dress with stitched multi-colored work done on it. I haven't worn it for long now. But I see dispersed light patches over it on the velvet part of it. It's whitish comparatively lighter than the dark blue... what can I do to remove the patchiness? I don't even know where it came from... could you please help me?
- Shraddha

Answer: Hello! I am guessing that the velvet part has lost it's pile, but I need to see a picture. Please send it to

Best - The Clothing Doctor

I am doing a science fair project for school. My question is, "Will washing new clothes (cotton) before wearing them, better protect cotton fabric from permanent staining?" What is your expert opinion on this?
- Alex Loggins

Answer: Alex, generally, NO. Stain resistance comes in a few varieties; the fabric may be "stain-resistant" by nature (poly, and some synthetics) or the fabric can be pre-treated with a silicone-type protective spray, available at grocery and home ware stores. Buy some and experiment on different fabrics, then you will have some solid data.

Good Luck — The Clothing Doctor

Hi. I was asked to Iron a shirt and what i didn't know is that the Iron was to hot and now my Iron is covered with a melted fabric stain. But my main concern is, when I went to Iron a green shirt with the Iron, the melted pink fabric from it transferred onto the green shirt. How do I fix it? it just happened a few minutes ago.
- Lynsey

Answer: Lynsey, oh boy! There are iron cleaners, which you should have used when you had the pink stuff on the iron, so it would not re-melt, and redeposit on the green shirt! So much for could of shoulda :) You will need a chemical that cleaners use, such as Amyl Acetate that can dissolve plastic stains. Not sure if it will work, but if the shirt means a lot to you, go see the best drycleaner in town! Offering a home remedy may cost you money, experimentation, time and hassle.

Best — The Clothing Doctor

Hi, I have a dress that says dry clean only. It is 77% polyester, 20% rayon and 3% spandex. It is also multi-colored (dark blue and white). I'm on a budget and would really rather just handwash but I'm scared the colors may bleed or I may ruin the dress. What do you think?

Answer: Melisa, I think its always risky to wash a dry-clean-only garment, even if its 77% synthetic (plus the 3% spandex). You can test a hidden corner with detergent and a dash of household ammonia to see if the dyes bleed off onto the white test cloth, but it may not completely mirror the time and exposure from washing; hand or machine. Furthermore, the texture, construction and size may be affected. Is it lined, and is the lining sewn into the hem and down the sides? There's no way for me to tell from here if the garment will withstand washing without testing. If you are comfortable with the washing process, and have washed other Dryclean-only garments, then give it a shirt.

Keep in mind, while they are not my first choice, there are many "one-price cleaners that will do a decent job for $4.99. Maybe you should consider that?

Best - The Clothing Doctor

My daughter's tennis uniform is made of 92% polyester and 8% spandex. The label says Do Not use Bleach, Do Not use Fabric Softener, Do Not Tumble Dry. Use cold water and lay flat to dry. I washed it several times before I read the label , and now the white part of the dress has turned light orange. I don't know if this is from using fabric softener. How can I get the white back without making things worse?
- Diane Timm

Answer: Diane, that is a loaded question! I doubt the color is from the softener, unless it's red or orange. It's hard to say what turned the color, if it was washed with bleach, that could be the cupric. Can you send me a pic?

The Clothing Doctor

I have a couple of blue/white striped shirts that always seem to color transfer under the armpits due to sweating. Is there any way to remove these transfer stains? Is there any way to prevent them? you can't see it unless I raise my arms, but I know they are there. I would love your help instead of throwing my favorite shirts away!
- Debbie Ward

Answer: Debbie, you might try pre-treating and rinsing the underarms as soon as you take off the shirts. Wash as hot as possible and air dry. Consider soaking the shirts in color-safe bleach for a few hours, after washing if stains persist. As for preventing the stains, you could try a different DEO, and allow it to dry before dressing.

Hope this helps - The Clothing Doctor

I took a pale pink blouse & used darker pink fabric dye to change the color :( It came out all splotchy! How can I get the dye splotches out or re-dye to cover the splotches. What can I do? Thank-you!
- Sandra

Answer: Sandra, dying is an acquired skill, and it the success of such depends on the fabric content, the heat of the water, the amount of dye used, and the amount of time it sits in the solution. I once cleaned 30 "dyed" costumes for Twyla Tharp, and they were blotchy, too. I wish you luck, but you may have to buy another blouse in the desired color!

The Clothing Doctor

I just purchased a dress that is 95% Polyester 5% Elastane & it is wrinkled. I have not worn it. I tried spraying with cold water & hung to dry. The wrinkles are still there. Label instructions: machine wash cold water gentle cycle, hang to dry. Cool iron if necessary. How do I get out the wrinkles?
- Sharon

Answer: Sharon, it should return to it's wrinkle-less condition after washing and hanging. If it doesn't, then I'd return it to the retailer, or pay your cleaner to steam and iron.

The Clothing Doctor

I use Degree deodorant (for the past 10 years) and lately, I have noticed that all of my white t-shirts have a purple tinged under the arms. This have never happened before, but now I have about 5 shirts that have this purple tinged and it does not come out with bleach either. What could be causing it???
- Shannon

Answer: Shannon, I am not familiar with this DEO, but I have some suggestions. I also wrote the company about your concerns, and will report back when they report to me! First, something could have changed in your body chemistry and diet that may have an affect. Second, you might try drying your underarms with a blow dryer, before dressing. Third, you might try pre-treating and rinsing the underarms as soon as take off the t-shirts. Lastly, wash the T's as hot as possible, and consider soaking them in color-safe bleach for a few hours, after washing if stains persist.

The Clothing Doctor

I have a LBD that is 100% Polyester. I wear it very rarely, and always get it dry cleaned. I left it in the dry cleaning bag, and it has 4 white marks on the front. I don't think they are stains, because they feel thick, like it is a substance, rather than a stain. By looking at the tag, I realized that it is machine washable. I put it in the washer, on cold, but the white marks are still there. What do you suggest I use on it?
- Cyndi

Answer: Cyndi, I can't see the white marks, but they could be the result of a stain, or a fabric flaw. You can either take it to a good drycleaner for identification, or back to the store. If the white marks cannot be removed, and the store will not take it back, then I would try a series of black markers (at an art supply store). I'd test JUST a drop on a concealed area until you find the closest color. Once you find the right color/pigment, try just a DOT on one of the white marks. If it works well enough, then voila!

The Clothing Doctor

Hi, I have a dress size 14, 94% polyester & 6% elastine, white/cream in color, it is hand wash only. I haven't wore the dress & on ironing it the iron has left a black mark on the rear of the dress, I immediately put it on a hand wash in the washing machine but the mark hasn't budged, I washed it again using vanish powder but still no budge, I would be very grateful if you have any tips for removing this mark. Thanks
- Sue Jones

Answer: Sue, it sounds like the iron may have "scorched" the fabric, especially if the mark in question is the shape of an iron. This is a rough one, but I would consult a good drycleaner to help you identify the mark. On occasion, light scorch can be lightened with peroxide, but it's tenuous and time consuming. I will hope, for you, that it is not scorched!

The Clothing Doctor

I like to wear cream rather than white. I was pleased to find exactly my style of smart cream polo shirt at Matalan. On washing (not with a "whites" detergent) the cream color had faded considerably and more on subsequent wash. The shirts are stylish but not expensive so do not justify dry cleaning. Is there any way I can restore the cream color. I have four of these shirts I loved them so much. Thank you
- Ann Aspinall

Answer: Lisa, I am not sure, but are you saying that the cream added to white? There's not much a drycleaner can do, but getting beige back to white (using a color-safe bleach) is a lot easier than getting a white back to beige! You get me? Feel free to write back or call, but you may want to get some new polos. Sorry!

The Clothing Doctor

What should I use, if I want a black streak on my coral dress, but do not want to stain it?
- Grace

Answer: Grace, are you saying that you want to paint a streak on it? If so, there are fabric paints … But you have to know if the dress is washable or dry cleanable, so you can pick the proper fabric paint, as some dissolve in water (wash), and some dissolve in drycleaning solutions. Let me know your thought on this.

The Clothing Doctor

I just washed a white duvet cover in bleach because it had a few brown stains on it. Now, half of the cover is yellow/dingy looking. Is there any way to restore it back to white? I haven't dried it yet.
- Caitlin

Answer: Caitlin, I'm just guessing, but it sounds like the duvet is cotton, and the care label says NO bleach. If that's the case, you may be able to "neutralize" the color change with an acid to offset the color change caused by the alkaline bleach. Not sure you can reverse the color change on your own, so you may have to seek out a great drycleaner to do the work. It's good that you haven't dried it yet, as that can make it that much harder. You may be able to reverse the change with a rust remover (oxalic acid), but I would test a small area first. If it works, then bathe the hole cover in a diluted rust remover.

The Clothing Doctor

The garment is lilac a chiffon material I spilled wine on it and hairspray got sprayed on it brought it to the cleaners it is still stained. They want to water restore it? Will this come out or anything else should be used on it
- Doris

Answer: Doris, that's quite a history! I first need to know if the chiffon is silk or poly, as washing silk can be very challenging. Wet cleaning poly chiffon might help remove the wine and the hairspray, so I would go with that, if it's synthetic. Remember, it's almost always best to refrain from home stain removal on unusual fabrics, whenever possible. Get back to me with more info, if need be.

The Clothing Doctor

I bought this fairly expensive jacket and it isn't optional to wear in the rain. The color seems to have run and this has really upset me. I'm just pondering as to whether I wash it, would this help or ruin the jacket completely? It has washing instructions so it's obviously washable. There are white, wavy marks on parts of the jacket that look to separate a darker shade of black (original) to the new darker grey colors... The fabric states; 100% Polyester.
- Alex

Answer: Alex, if the jacket has a wash label, then it should NOT have bled in the rain. First of all, you can try washing it to resolve the dye change/problem, as it's within the care label instructions. Secondly, the retailer NEEDS to stand behind it if you follow care instructions, and it fails. Write or call if you need more help, but do not let them take advantage of you!

The Clothing Doctor

I have two questions. Question 1: what is the best detergent for washing my clothes (my clothes do not get very dirty and are relatively clean when I wash them) Question 2: At home I was my clothes on a cold water low spin cycle. In my dorm I can choose between whites, colors, bright colors, perm press, woolens, or deicates and knits. which cycle would be the most gentle? I have been using delicate and Knits but that's a warm wash cycle. Thanks
- Jared

Answer: Jared, the fact that you know that much about your habits and your clothing give you an advantage. So good for you! Washing cold or warm, in short cycles, will keep your clothing in better shape longer. I would stick with the Delicates & Knits, unless you have something really dirty or soiled; the longer the cycle, the better the soil removal. As for the type of detergent, I would select the best one that fits your needs best. I always recommend SCENT-FREE, ODOR FREE, but beyond that, I would choose whatever you like, as you don't need the best grease-cutting detergent.

The Clothing Doctor

Hi we have spilt oil on a wax coated jacket. The care guide says that it can not be dry cleaned or washed, only sponged down with cold water.The jacket is a light sand color so the stain stands out alot. Please any possible advice would be a great help. Many thanks.
- Jayne Caunce

Answer: Janyne, I am very familiar with wax-coated jackets. No, they cannot be dry-cleaned or washed. Does that sound user-friendly to you? Dry-cleaning will remove ALL the wax, and re-waxing is a losing proposition. The care label is correct in stating that it can only be sponged off. I'm guessing that jacket is cotton, which is a very absorbent fabric, especially with regard to oil. Honestly, I think you should call the manufacturer and describe your dilemma. If you want to give me the brand, etc., I will call on your behalf.

The Clothing Doctor

Hello there Just wondering why my whites have a purple tinge, particularly around the armpit and seem area. I am using tide pods and laundry softener in a front load washer. Bleach does not really fix the problem. Thank you for your time Cathy
- Cathy

Answer: Cathy, I'm guessing that the purple tinge is associated with either the stitching, the use of chlorine bleach, or perspiration and the type of DEO. I would experiment with other white T's, by changing type of DEO for a few weeks and washings; I don't believe that the detergent or softeners are contributing to the purplish tint, but if its anything, it would be the softener. I'd try stopping that for a while. Hope that helps!

The Clothing Doctor

How do you brighten white lettering that has turned cream on a dark green basketball uniform made of 100% polyester? My husband is a basketball coach and has two sets of team uniforms that are unusable because the lettering is no longer white. Thanks for your help.
- Jo Ann

Answer: Joann, is the lettering silk-screened on, embroidered, or some other method. Simply stated, if you can isolate the lettering (by removing or using a Q-tip), then you may be able to brighten the letters independently of the uniform. But they may be unlikely, and expensive and time consuming. The best bet would probably be to soak the uniform, in question, in a color-safe bleach for 1-2 hours. If the uniform is washable, and I assume it is, the soak just might lighten the lettering, but without know more about them, I can only offer these remedies. Good luck!

The Clothing Doctor

How do I fix a white linen suit that I dyed dark blue that turned out really splotchy and uneven?
- Nate

Answer: Nate, this is a very loaded question considering that dying fabric is a real science—especially when it's already been made into a garment. I'm not surprised it's blotchy, because even professional dying often leaves a blotchy appearance. Many dyers "bleach or strip out" the old dye, before trying to dye it. Did you try that, first? You could try re-dying the suit in navy, or send to a professional service, but I'd cut my losses and buy a new suit!

The Clothing Doctor

I discovered that my new very expensive cream silk blouse had dark yellow deo stains under the arms. I called my cleaner and was told that it would be hard to remove, and would possibly pull the color out. I've always hand washed my silk blouses, I tried to remove the stains using several recommended methods including meat tenderizer, detergent, vinegar and finally oxyclean which pulled the stain AND the color out. Should I just attempt to re-dye it?
- Missy

Answer: Hi Missy, I have seen hundreds of cream silk blouses with yellow underarms (U/A). Some that eventually turn to holes from the chloride salts in our perspiration. But yours is quite a story indeed, and a drycleaner's nightmare. Halloween is about right, unless you want it to be an "under-only" blouse—or you could try making it ALL white, just like the underarm. Dying it a darker color is not likely, as you tried everything under the kitchen sink, so some of the new dye is bound not to stick! Let's move on to the rest of your blouses, and how to keep the U/A's clean. First, as you've seen, silk can turn color at the U/A after just one wearing: And each hour after you sweat, until you get it washed or dry-cleaned, you are taking a chance of the color changing. You can try wiping your U/A with a towel when you know its wet; you can try different DEO's; you can have snap-in washable u/a shields sewn in to your better blouses. Bottom line, if you know you're going to perspire, and you must wear silk, either rinse the underarms and then wash it, or take it to the cleaners ASAP, with the special instruction to SPOT the underarms!

The Clothing Doctor

I accidentally ironed a new Ralph Lauren 100% cotton shirt while it still had the size label stuck to the chest, now there is a spot on the chest that is darker than the rest from where the label is. Is there anyway to get this out? I've never worn the shirt before!
- Nicole

Answer: Nicole, you did not mention if the label imprint is stiff (like glue or plastic), or if the darker area is actually a dye mark. Have you tried rewashing it? The spot might respond to an ink remover, more likely to a dye stripper/remover. Either way, if you want to try it yourself it will take some experimentation and money. If you want a professional to try it, then find the BEST drycleaner in town, as they should have the skills to assess it, and possibly remove it.

The Clothing Doctor

Hi, I accidentally got lipstick on my winter coat which is 100% polyester, and it says on the tag to wash by hand. So I treated the lipstick with Shout and the stains lifted immediately. I then rinsed the entire coat to try and get some of the excess shout out of the coat. Should I still wash it in the machine? Help!
- Chase

Answer: Hi Chase, if the lipstick came out, and the jacket can be washed, then by all means wash it! If you have any concern about the stains not being completely removed, then air dry and inspect it, again. You can always re-wash it after.

The Clothing Doctor

I was given a Ralph Lauren black cotton sweater with leather shoulder patches. The label instructions say to dry clean by a leather expert only. Is this really necessary as it is an expensive process? I usually have all my dark colored clothes dry cleaned as our well water is chlorinated and fades dark colors in the wash but the cleaners said they would not attempt to dry clean the sweater because of the leather. Thanks for any help you can provide.
- Linda

Answer: Linda, most leather- and or suede-trimmed garments require dry cleaning, and possible "leather" cleaning, which may be dry-cleaned or wet cleaned, depending on the situation. Some cleaners that care for expensive and designer clothing, including leather trimmed, can often clean these without the help of a specialist. There is no telling sometimes IF a leather patch will fade and need re-coloring. Either way, it's not inexpensive. I wish I could tell you that washing at home would work, but there are too many variables. Reach out to the BEST cleaner in town for a more knowledgeable assessment. Hope that helps!

The Clothing Doctor

I have a pair of black skinny Miss Selfridge jeans that are made of cotton. I've noticed that when I was putting them in the washer/hand washing them they dried with white/grey marks on them down the zip area and down the sides of the legs. What is it? Is it just because I have washed them many times, or is there a way of getting rid of it? Thanks :)
- Elise Schofield

Answer: Elise, what you are describing sounds like typical fading and streaking, common with designer and stone-washed jeans. there are ways to "darken" fabrics that used to be black, but none are easy, or inexpensive, per se. Some people have had luck "darkening" fabrics by putting the jeans in the wash with black towels and other dark items , with the goal of having the other black items bleeding onto the faded black items. There are a few products that purport to blacken clothing. I do not have any firsthand experience with this type of dying, but they might work. Here's one: - Let me know if it works!

The Clothing Doctor

Hi, I want to dye my royal blue morphsuit (Lycra) to green is this possible? If so, how? Thanks
- Zoe

Answer: Zoe, it seems an easy fix, but dying after-market fabrics that have already been dyed another color is a real art—and rarely acceptable. I can explain the process, but take my word: If you have any expectations of wearing the suit again, then be ready for a poorly-dyed product, or put the money into a new garment. Professionally dyed costumes also tend to look discolored. Sorry!

The Clothing Doctor

Can I wash my jean with other dark color clothes? Thanks
- Frankie Chan

Answer: Frankie, I assume you are referring to blue jeans (or possibly black jeans?). If so, you should be able to wash jeans with darker colors, but I would be sure to wash ALL dark items alone the first time, at least to start. After that, they should be okay to wash with blue jeans.

The Clothing Doctor

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