One of the more common and problematic stains that occurs with garment care is the stain that seems to show up all by itself. They were not visible before cleaning or pressing, but believe it or not, they were there. Often these are stains that are the result of sodas, food oils or perspiration.
One example is the customer who has dripped a droplet from a soft drink, it dries and is invisible at this point. Over time, the stain begins to caramelize or oxidize(when it is an oil stain) and becomes a visible brown/yellow stain. Or the stain isn't removed in the cleaning process (due to the limited amount of moisture available in the dry cleaning system) and the heat of drying makes the stain brown/yellow and even more difficult to remove. The customer doesn't realize this spill happened and therefore doesn't point it out to the cleaner to be pre-treated. This type of stain can sometimes be a difficult stain to remove, depending on fabrics, dyes, etc. and may not be removed. At this point, the dry cleaners puts his "sorry" tag on it and ships it out, only to end up with the problem we started this post out with.
Another example is the stain that contains unsaturated oil such as in foods. These oils are very quick to oxidize and create another very difficult stain to remove. When these type stains are on a garment made of polyester they can be almost impossible to remove. This type of stain can often be indentified by the checkerboard or criss cross pattern that can be seen in the stain. And again, if it isn't pre-spotted and cleaned soon after the spill, you have the appearance of the "invisible stain". Often, oils from our skin can produce a very similar stain, especially in shirt collars, underarms and cuffs. Usually these will be more yellowed and lack the criss cross design that indicates an oxidized oil stain.
So, what is the best way to handle the situation that the young lady working the counter had experienced. The best way is to educate and inform the consumer/your customer. Make educating the consumer part of every point of sale interaction. Explain to them the importance of detection, cleaning the garment promptly after the staining occured and making sure to point it out to the customer service rep when they drop the garment off to be cleaned. Once these stains become visible, there is no guarantee that it can be removed safely. Explain to the consumer to never attempt a home remedy, do not try to rub or brush the stain out. If an attempt is made at home to remove the stain and it does not come out, do not put the garment in a dryer (heat will make the stain more difficult to remove). Explain that this is a stain best left for the professional dry cleaner.
Lastly, take the time and train your customer sales reps, give them the answers they need. Explain to them what causes these type stains so that they can explain this problem with confidence and put your business one step ahead of the competition.