The Science of Stains and How to Get Rid of Them

Machine wash cold.

Tumble dry low.

Dry clean optional.

These are the washing instructions that we design almost all of our garments to meet. Here’s the science of how washing clothes work, and the best way to get pesky stains out.

There are four things to consider:

  1. Fabric: Fiber Diet - in our previous post we discussed that the fibers we use are made of starches, oils, and proteins - making them more likely to attach to stains of similar structure. In the case of synthetics, oils tend to bind to oil-based fibers.

  2. Stain/Soil: There are three main types of stains, oil-based stains, protein-based stains (blood, eggs) and pigment-based stains (ink, wine).

  3. Cleaning Agent: Detergents dissolve oils in water, Enzymes break down proteins and fats, while Oxidizers neutralize pigments called chromophores.

  4. Solution: Most home and commercial washing is done using water, dissolving the stain into water is done by detergents, however, dry cleaning solvents are hydrocarbon based and can easily wash away oils.

How Different Cleaning Agents Work:

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Recommendations for stains

While machine wash cold, tumble dry low will do it for regular washing, for the occasional stain here are our suggestions.

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