Cleaning a silk headboard spotted with oily makeup- a bad combination!

Good morning, Guys.

Bill, I was a student of yours in a Technical class at Jon-Don in Atlanta. The local Jon-Don folks recommended I pose this question about fabric upholstery cleaning to you. Here is the small inventory of the “Matrix” system I have on hand:clean-oily-spot-on-silk

Breakdown Advanced Stain Remover A&B
Outset Matrix Professional Spotting Kit
Acid rinse

Can you make recommendations for the following “profit opportunity”? Or will it just be a headache I should avoid? (The customer is a good client of mine and I would like to help her out.)

The dilemma is with a silk headboard on a very expensive bed. The customer thinks that while making the bed her maid brushed her face against the headboard and the housekeeper’s makeup was smeared on a small area about the size of a golf ball. They haven’t tried anything to take it out (thank goodness!) and have called me on the problem.

Thanks in advance for your advice.

Bill: This one may be a toughie! The biggest concerns for silk are water rings, which can occur from either water or solvents. Another big challenge with silk is fiber distortion if indeed this headboard has a pile texture.  Makeup is normally oily so a solvent would work best. Of the products you have Matrix Breakdown is the best to remove makeup. The problem is it must be rinsed out. You can use the Matrix All Fiber Rinse in an extractor BUT you must rinse evenly or it will leave ugly water rings. (Which will obviously be even worse than a “golf ball sized makeup stain”!)

My suggestion is to buy 1 gallon of ChemSpec Dry Fabric Cleaner. This is a solvent based product used in dry cleaning machines. Apply the product to a white towel and very gently blot the area then use a hair blower on a cool to warm setting to force it dry before it leaves a ring. If it all doesn’t come out repeat the procedure. This is your safest option.

Steve: Sounds like Bill has nailed it as usual.  However, let me stress two non-technical aspects of this sort of thing.  One is the need to pre-test the technique if possible.  (This is true even if it comes from the Master of All Things Technical, otherwise known as Mr. “Big Billy” Yeadon!)  So see if there is an inconspicuous area on the back of the headboard you can test the technique on.  Or on a headboard some of the fabric may be normally hidden by the mattress.  Try this area first.

My other concern/warning is the time honored principle “Not Letting the Customer’s Problem Become your Problem”.  Too many times I have rushed in to the rescue trying to be the “Knight in Shining White Armor” and wound up getting burned!  Pre-testing will be a big help in avoiding this problem plus don’t forget to pre-qualify both verbally and in writing.  Especially with a problem fabric the client must understand that the item is unusable as it stands and so if you further damage the fabric in trying to remove the stain it would have needed to be recovered anyway.  So at the very worst it becomes a zero-sum game.  At the best (which by following Bill’s sage advice above) you become a hero!

Let us know how it turns out!

Bill and Steve

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