Dryside and Wetside Spotting and prespotting

Dryside agents (solvents) are used to help remove any stain containing pigment, oil-soluble dye, grease, wax, oil, and/or plastic. Dryside spotting agents will not set any stain. Therefore, all unknown stains are first spotted with dryside spotting agents. The following suggestions will help you do a better job of spotting.

  • Always wet the area with perc or volatile dry solvent (VDS) before using- oily-type paint remover (POG).
  • Always flush out any dryside spotting agents with perc or VDS.
  • Do not leave oily-type paint remover in the fabric. Color loss may occur.
  • Do not use moisture/steam with dryside agents.
  • When using a dryside agent you go from the weakest to strongest spotting agent. Starting with solvent or VDS, oily-type paint remover, amyl acetate, and acetone after testing. Remember, acetone will damage acetate fabrics.

Wetside Agents (Moisture)

  • This is the area where most spotters seem to have difficulty. Water and other wet agents are necessary for the removal of sweet spots and other water-soluble foodstuffs and beverages. Again, you start with the mildest agent steam—sometimes this alone might remove a wetside stain. After steam, use neutral synthetic detergent. Then, depending on the color of the stain or what your customer said the stains were, determine if you should use acids or alkalis for removal. If acids are necessary to remove stains like sweet spots or tannin stains like coffee or tea start with neutral synthetic detergent, acetic acid or tannin formula. Then, try general formula and rust remover. If alkalis are needed to remove stains like protein spots (blood, milk), start with neutral synthetic detergent, ammonia, or protein formula wet spotter.
  • Testing for Bleeding Before Spotting
  • When testing to see if color will bleed on the wet side, place the towel over the screen and then place the garment on the towel. It is preferred to use an unexposed area for testing. It is advisable, if the garment is multicolored, to make sure the test area includes all the colors in the garment.
  • Lightly press the steam and vacuum pedals at the same time to flush the area with the steam gun.
  • Lift the garment from the towel to see if any dye has bled onto the towel. Fabric dye bleeding indicates that you must limit the amount of moisture and length of time the fabric remains wet with moisture. Many dyes will bleed slightly to a steam gun, but can still be spotted with moisture and not cause a color loss on the garment. Many fabrics require only a light misting of steam or a little neutral detergent and water to remove sweet spots, protein, or fresh beverage stains.
  • Another test for colorfastness involves wetting an area with water and then blotting with a towel or blotter. Hold the towel or blotter on the area a few seconds and then release and observe any dye transfer. If color is fast, proceed to add detergent and water and press, release, and observe, checking for any color transfer. Next apply acetic acid or tannin formula. If you need to test for colorfastness to alkalis or protein, use another area. Do not apply protein over tannin. Some procedures can be used for bleaches but it is best to remove a small sample from a seam and test. Remember, heat accelerates all agents.
  • Summary for testing on the wetside:
    • Water or steam
    • Neutral synthetic detergent
    • Acid (tannin)
    • Alkali (protein)
    • Bleach


To help avoid rings on the wet side, start drying the outer edges with the air gun with the vacuum on and work inward. Remove most of the moisture this way and then hang the garment to air dry. In handling a fabric with water-soluble sizing, a leveling agent should be applied. A leveling agent consists of seven parts drycleaning solvent to three parts drycleaning detergent. Spray the leveling agent evenly. Silk and wool garments must be completely void of moisture before cleaning. Some stains will not respond just to local spotting and may require the repeated applications of various spotting agents, and light tamping for removal. However, in all spotting and prespotting procedures, bear in mind that not all stains come out and the longer the fabric is spotted with moisture, the greater the probability of dye loss and change occurring. However, this does not mean that you should avoid attempting spot removal with water or wetside agents. Pretreat Stains Before Cleaning

Benefits of prespotting are dealing with any unusual problems.

These problems should be identified on a special tag attached to the garment. These articles should then go directly to the spotter. DO NOT DRYCLEAN the item first. Many stains are set with heat and age. Consequently, a beverage stain that is drycleaned and exposed to heat in drying will be much more difficult to remove, at the spotting board than if the stain was spotted first before drycleaning.

What is Prespotting?

Prespotting means softening soil and stains before drycleaning to aid in better removal. It can be broken down into two general procedures:

  1. removing soil and stains by the use of spotting agents on the spotting board, and
  2. the use of prespotters or spray-spotters to loosen and soften stains and soils on a larger scale.

Why and When to Prespot

There are three reasons for prespotting:

  1. The stain may be “set” by high drying temperatures (blood, albumin, sugar, paint).
  2. The stain may be removed easier before cleaning, thus avoiding rings and feathering techniques, or the stains are too large and intense for local spotting.
  3. Some garments may require reduced running times. Certain fragile garments may have badly soiled areas that would not respond satisfactorily to a short solvent run and, therefore, require removal of soils and stains by hand. This brings up the question of “How much moisture prespotting solution should be used for a load of clothing?” The answer is “enough to remove the bulk of water-soluble staining material and not enough to cause wrinkling of the garments.” This can be judged by looking at the coat linings, as they will usually be the first to wrinkle with excess moisture. If you notice fine, short wrinkling of the linings, reduce the amount of prespotting. If you have an abundance of sweet spots increase the prespotting or drycleaning running time and also keep your solvent temperature between 75℉ and 85℉.


Experience of the Cleaner/Spotter

The experienced spotter knows that silks, wools, acetates, and most cellulose fabrics cannot be placed into the wheel while wet or damp. The wet area will most surely pick up impurities from the solvent and stand a good chance of losing color in that area. “Fuzzing” will result on the dampened portion of wools as well as possible color loss.

Alkalis may turn some green silks and wools, yellow; some blues and blue-green acetates and nylons, yellow or white; and a black acetate, navy blue or red. Make sure you test the dye first, but if the color does change then immediately flush with steam or water and apply 28 percent acetic or tannin formula, to neutralize the alkalinity and reverse the color change. Some dyes bleed to acids and will change color. When this happens immediately flush with steam or water and apply ammonia or a protein formula, finally flush with steam and water and dry completely,

In summary things to watch for in prespotting are linings wrinkling, color changes, and making sure garments are completely dry before cleaning.

Dryside Spotting Precautions

Remember dryside agents have solvents that generally affect oils and greases and subsequently have an effect on the removal of oily-type stains such as cosmetics, inks, and paint. Dryside agents customarily have some adverse effect on most surface prints. In most cases, the surface stain will be solubilized and removed quicker than the surface design providing the agent has not been left on the fabric for an extended period of time. Consequently, it is necessary to make some cursory tests with these dry agents on an unexposed area before proceeding with generous application of the solvents. Some areas of deep concern in using dryside agents are surface prints, flock prints, leather trims, and sequins. It is well known that prolonged contact with oily-type agents on acetate will affect many colors. However, many of these fabrics will withstand a short exposure of a few minutes to the stain removal agent as long as it is immediately flushed out with solvent. It is the prolonged contact with these agents that causes the color loss.

Prolonged contact with oily-type paint removers will also have adverse effects on some deep red and blue dyes. If dye bleeding is noted when the agent is applied, be sure to flush it out immediately with solvent to avoid the problem. Never flush these dryside agents with a steam gun.

Wetside Spotting Precautions

Many dyes and sizings have limited colorfastness to wetside agents. Typical examples are water-soluble sizings in many rayons and fugitive colors on many silks and cottons. All of these problems can be avoided or certainly minimized if we use caution in the degree and amount of moisture that is used. There are many fabrics that can be successfully spotted with most moisture agents providing you do not allow the moisture to remain in the fabric for a long time or in a heavy concentration. Consequently, the use of moisture spray spotters with light misting followed by hanging the garment to dry will minimize your problems. Most moisture prespotters, providing the moisture is minimal, will not adversely affect the water-sensitive sizings in most fabrics. Here again, it is predicated on the amount of moisture spray spotter used and the length of time it is on the garment. If the area is sprayed extremely heavy, it will take a long time to dry and this extended contact with moisture could cause dye bleeding. A light misting with a prespotter with minimal moisture may not affect the dye, yet aid in stain removal. One of the greatest sins in the spotting or prespotting is the abundant use of moisture on the fabric and allowing it to remain wet and dry slowly. This is sure to get you in trouble.

This article is from DLI TOI-625.

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