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Salt & Pepper Fabrics

Caption: Salt and Pepper garments can pose tough stain removal challenges.

Q: I am having trouble removing a stain from a fabric that has very dark yarns mixed with very light yarns. The light yarns seem darker after flushing the area with steam to remove stain removal agents. What is the problem?

A: You have a salt and pepper fabric, a term referring to the light and dark yarns in a woven or knit fabric. This type of fabric may be found with a variety of fibers, such as silk, wool, rayon or polyester and frequently has a nubby texture. The dye in the dark yarn is water soluble and transfers to the light yarns, resulting in a dark or shaded area.

If the dye is very sensitive to water, the fabric is not serviceable. Dye may bleed out during stain removal attempts, but in many cases, contact with water-based substances in use can cause similar problems.

Test carefully before attempting to remove stains on a salt and pepper fabric. If you notice a lot of dye bleeding immediately after contact with water, do not proceed with wetside stain removal procedures. If you do attempt to remove a stain, work in a small area with a towel underneath to absorb moisture. Dry the area quickly. The item should be hung aside to dry thoroughly before drycleaning.

Suggested Reading

  • Fabrics & Fashions No. 555: Salt and Pepper Yarns
  • TABS No. 352: Salt 'n Pepper Dyes Bleed
  • TABS No. 385: Black Dyes Bleed into White
  • Numerous garment examples from Not In Vogue and Heads Up!
Posted By Harry Kimmel | 12/8/2015 9:18:40 AM