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Elastic Stains

Elastic StainsQ: After cleaning, a skirt showed discolorations around the elastic area. What happened?

A: These stains usually occur on garments that contain a rubberized elastic. Often, the rubberized material deteriorates or decomposes with age, exposure to sunlight, and the accumulation of body oils, and perspiration. When the elastic begins to break down, it gives off a gas that combines with atmospheric fumes to form an objectionable discoloration on the adjacent fabric.

The discoloration usually appears in the form of streaks. These streaks can be yellow, tan, or pink in color and normally correspond to the areas of the garment that actually contain the elastic or are near the elastic when the item is hanging in storage. Usually, the chemical degradation develops gradually; however, the heat that is necessary for drying and finishing procedures can accelerate this process, making the discoloration more apparent after cleaning.

Once this type of stain develops, its removal can be difficult. Sometimes detergents, ammonia, or a protein formula may remove the stain. White fabrics may respond to a mild oxidizing bleach, such as hydrogen peroxide. Remember to test the fabric before using bleach. Another alternative is to carefully wetclean those items that are washable. It may reduce the stain. Most likely, however, the remaining elastic should be removed and/or replaced.

In most cases, the discoloration is due to natural aging and will not occur until the item is well into or past its normal life cycle. However, if the elastic-type staining occurs on a relatively new garment, the manufacturer must be held responsible for not selecting elastic made of rubber or other materials that resist deterioration during normal consumer use and accepted care processes.

For more information on this topic, see the following bulletins in DLI's digital Drycleaning Encyclopedia:

Technical Analysis Bulletin Series No. 328 - Stains from Elastic

Technical Analysis Bulletin Series No. 372 - Elastic Damage

Fabrics and Fashions No. 513 - Elastic Fibers

Posted By Harry Kimmel | 4/26/2018 9:20:32 AM