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Light gray trousers and the curse of coffee stains

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by TweedyProf, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. TweedyProf

    TweedyProf Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I actually wasn’t able to find something simple in this forum, so am writing this up as an option.

    Just got some pants back from the tailor, light gray wool. Wore for the first time, and bam, coffee stain. Probably some sloshing around as I walked with the coffee.[​IMG]

    Internet turned up very little actually, and much was complicated. The one thing that did come up was vinegar, either undiluted or diluted 1:1 or 1:2 vinegar to water. I’m not sure about vinegar as it is acidic, though since normal vinegar is only 5% diluted water, perhaps not terrible. Still, not my first choice.

    Anyway, I’ve used isopropyl alcohol to dab away a gravy stain from a light colored silk tie. Worked very well (very faint outline of a stain was still present, but I can live with that). Moreover, rubbing alcohol should be unreactive where acidic solutions might not be. Plus, alcohol evaporates faster than water.

    Anyway, sorry not to have before after pictures. Four noticeable coffee stains at the foot of the leg. Blot with 91% alcohol (by volume, standard stuff you can buy at drug store), then blot dry; repeat. I probably did this 4-5 times. Could still see a faint brown stain, so decided I should try a 1:2 solution vinegar to warm water. Blotted twice, with dry blot. Looked like it was working. I then reblotted with rubbing alcohol to get out the vinegar. Voila, stain gone.

    I would recommend just blotting the area affected, to avoid spreading the stain. Also, blotted without rubbing, though maybe a light rub would be needed for very dark stain.

    I’m not promising that this will work, but it seemed to do the trick for me, and was fairly simple. I did this about 2 hours after the spill. I should also probably bring it to the dry cleaner in the near future, but I don’t think there should be any permanent spotting from my “cleaning solutions”.

    Hope this helps.
     


  2. mafoofan

    mafoofan THE FOO Dubiously Honored

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    I've always just blotted with water. Most stains come right out if you get to them fast enough.
     


  3. TweedyProf

    TweedyProf Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Glad to hear that. I wanted the stain to dry rapidly, so I could see if the blotting was working. The alcohol does that. But there's nothing reactive in the alcohol or in the water (well...depends on where you live!). Both might do just as well. I'm less sure about detergents, but at that point, you should probably just bring it to a reputable cleaner.

    I do agree: act quickly on any stains.
     


  4. connor09

    connor09 Senior member

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    I reach for alcohol all the time with minor stains, works every time.
     


  5. TweedyProf

    TweedyProf Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    In principle, I suppose that certain things might be more soluble in isopropyl alcohol than water, though I can't say for sure. But it's worked for me twice now.
     


  6. Holdfast

    Holdfast Senior member

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    Topical application to remove the stain, or oral intake to stop worrying about it? [​IMG]
     


  7. TweedyProf

    TweedyProf Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Update:

    I find that this method works well with minor oily stains. I'm guessing that the hydrocarbons in isopropyl alcohol make it more effective than water in picking up oils. I would use 91% isopropyl alcohol by volume rater than 70%. Both are available in any drug store, and in a pinch while you travel, you could pick some up in an emergency. Not sure the best way to dispose of it, however.

    Worked on some stains due to lotion and an unknown blotch that didn't come out with water, but disappeared with use of alcohol.

    Do NOT, of course, drink isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). Not sure if gin works, but if it did...
     


  8. Superfluous

    Superfluous Senior member

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    I would just take them to the best dry cleaners immediately.
     


  9. TweedyProf

    TweedyProf Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    N update on this method. For some reason, on doing it this time, the alcohol left a residue, like a water mark. This was on fairly fine worsted trousers. So, just to note...I've since discovered that rubbing alcohol, which is universally lauded for cleaning, does have additives (e.g. something to make it taste bitter). One possibility is that in an old batch, enough of the alcohol has evaporated that the additive concentration has increased (the volume has decreased due to evaporation of alcohol). This might be what I'm seeing as the alcohol dried (previous use involved new batches of alcohol). Another is that this was always an issue, but only noticed on the worsted (light colored) trousers versus the flannels that I tried this on at first.

    That said, it again removed a stain (coffee)? Anyway, more information. Do with it as you will.
     


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