WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
A mysterious stain appears that nobody can remember seeing before. This may be an oxidized oil stain.
Oil stains can look just like a clear wet spot, but after some time oxidation causes the oil to darken to almost any color. The most common old oil stain shades are yellow, orange, tan, or rust brown. On knit fabrics, sometimes you will see sharp thin streaks as the oil runs along the individual knit loops. However, on woven fabrics, oil stains usually run out along the warp and weft of the weave and can form small crosses as it spreads out in all directions. In other cases, the stains will just be round, irregularly shaped, or elliptical.
WHAT CAUSED IT?
Such stains can be caused by vegetable or cooking oils, mayonnaise, salad dressings, or other oils which are found in many foods. Lubricating oils or oils in skin lotions and salves will cause similar stains. Stains from such oils are often invisible when they ﬁrst wet out the fabric, but will oxidize (adsorb oxygen from the air) and progressively darken from normal atmospheric exposure over time. The heat needed for drying or ﬁnishing after cleaning can accelerate oxidation, therefore speeding up the darkening of the stain. Thus, after cleaning, the stain may be more noticeable.
CAN IT BE PREVENTED?
Only the owner of the item can prevent accidental contact with oils during use. If the spillage is known at the time of contact, quick action by taking the article to a professional drycleaner can usually a prevent permanent oil stain.
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