DLI's Drycleaning Blog

Q&A and Useful Industry Information

E-mail any question to Techline@DLIonline.org.

Perspiration Stains on Silk

Underarm StainPerspiration stains usually appear as yellow stains in the underarms and on the back, and may have a noticeable odor. Perspiration is composed of mainly water, but it also contains other substances, such as chloride salts, amino acids, and ammonium compounds. These substances can oxidize with the heat of the drying cycle or the heat of pressing, causing the stains to turn yellow. Perspiration begins as acidic substance but later decomposes to an alkaline condition. Silk is very susceptible to becoming discolored by alkaline substances. The chloride salts in perspiration can weaken the silk fibers, resulting in the development of holes over time.

The odor and staining from perspiration may not be removed in the drycleaning process. It may be necessary to treat the area locally with mildly acidic stain removal agents or tannin formulas. If the staining is extensive or does not respond to the milder stain removal agents, it may be necessary to wetclean the item in a bath containing hydrogen peroxide.

The bath should contain two to four ounces of three percent hydrogen peroxide per gallon of water. Hydrogen peroxide is a very slow acting bleach, so the item should be soaked somewhere between four to six hours.

Remember to always test for colorfastness before using any bleaching agent, as a color loss or change in color may occur. Because some slight change in texture or slight shrinkage may occur during this process, you may want to advise customers of the risks of this procedure.

More information on this topic can be found in the following bulletins on DLI's Drycleaning Encyclopedia:

Fabrics & Fashions No. 536 - Color Failure on Silk
Fabrics & Fashions No. 494 - Stain Removal Procedures for Silk Fabrics
Technical Operating Information No. 626 - Deodorants and Antiperspirants
Textile Analysis Bulletin Service (TABS) No. 378 - Perspiration Stains
Posted By Harry Kimmel | 5/1/2018 11:47:51 AM