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Silk Stain Removal Help

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion - Ask Questions Get Answers' started by jackobear, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. jackobear

    jackobear Registered Guest

    I have a vintage japanese silk kimono white wedding dress possibly from the 20s that has a few unknown slightly yellow stains on it after having been in storage for a few years. I'm looking for advice on removing them. I tried warm water, but the scrubbing action seemed to begin to damage the hand embriodery. Most remedies I could find online seemed tailored to specific types of stains, but I don't know why it became discolored in storage.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  2. catseyevintage

    catseyevintage VFG Member

    Outstanding and beautiful kimono!

    Those yellowish storage stains can be very difficult to remove. Normally I would use the spray yellow Awesome from the dollar store and a small amount of cold water, let it sit for a few minutes, then gently dab and rub .

    However, considering it is silk and the embroidery looks like silk thread it would probably spot and might not survive that kind of treatment.

    If your kimono were mine I would take it to a good and trusted dry cleaner and have them deal with it.
  3. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    They look like sugar based stains (probably from wine) and the medium that set them is what will remove them -- water, but I wouldn't spot clean it with water because you will end up with tide marks and/or a clean spot, and I wouldn't wash the whole thing either, so you might just have to accept it as it is. I doubt dry cleaning will help, although it might lighten the brownish spots a bit.
  4. vintagebaubles

    vintagebaubles Administrator Staff Member

    Dry cleaning, though it will remove most things, likely won't lift those.... Jonathan is right--they might succeed in lightening them a bit, but they probably won't come out. I sent two white dresses with those spots to the cleaners, and the dresses are still sitting in my closets and still have the stains on them....
  5. jackobear

    jackobear Registered Guest

    Thanks for the replies...although I'm not sure what you meant by "...the spray yellow Awesome from the dollar store...". Is there a common cleaner named 'Awesome'? I really don't think it is a wine stain because it has never been worn. Would cotton swabbing some bleach on it be a bad idea? Please forgive my ignorance, I'm far from being excited about clothes. Perhaps I should just find an upscale dry cleaner.

    Thanks again
  6. catseyevintage

    catseyevintage VFG Member

    There is a general purpose cleaner called "Awesome" sold at dollar/99 cent stores. It is sold as a general cleaner and is usually found in the cleaning aisles where you find Windex and other cleaners.

    Bleach would absolutely ruin it because it will overly lighten the area where the stain is and would probably also eat the silk fabric leaving holes.
  7. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    In Boston is that product known as 'Wicked Awesome'? lol
  8. jackobear

    jackobear Registered Guest

    And now a question for the ages...

    What is Awesome?

    ...I assume its just like any random cleanser...if thats the case, I typically use vinegar and water for those types of jobs...would a 50/50 white vinegar/water solution mess up silk?

    Thanks again
  9. bycin

    bycin Guest

    Wicked Awesome. Now THAT was the funniest thing!! Jonathan, you made me laugh so loud my dog's flinched. Wicked flinched, I mean.
  10. jackobear

    jackobear Registered Guest

    For whatever its worth, 'Awesome' didn't work, nor did a water/vinegar solution, nor did a solution of crushed aspirin and cream of tartar. I made a paste of aspirin and cream of tartar which somewhat covered up the stains with white dust essentially, but it wasn't really worth it.

    So what I ended up doing was gently painting a very diluted white acrylic paint over the stains and the stains are almost completely imperceptible now.

    Thanks again
  11. jauntyrooster

    jauntyrooster Alumni

    Realize late here but a friend of mine who used to work in a very high end men's store once told me that one way to get stains out of silk is to rub them with another piece of silk. I recommend using another piece of similar or same color. I keep old or damaged silk scarves around for this and I must say, I have had success with this method. It isn't 100% effective all the time obviously and can take some time before you see progress. It seems like the one piece absorbs the stain from the other but who knows. I would think your stains just might be to old for this method but when it comes to vintage, anything that is non-damaging is worth a try.
  12. I've tried that method and haven't had success with it - you can't rub old fabrics because you're likely to damage them and the marks on the kimono are likely to have been there for decades. It doesn't help that we don't know what caused them.

    I've had little success in getting marks out of old silks and for something like this, feel the risks are likely to outweigh any improvement. I've also been tempted by the "colour over it" method of hiding and am concerned that the paint you use may cause further damage. Acrylic paint is made from plastics so may well cause some changes to the fabric (colour, markings) later down the track. In any case, it's a quick fix which will hide the marks effectively and you never know, the kimono might be okay. I don't have any experience in applying acrylics to silk so I can't be sure.

    I'm late to this party, but what I would do is to match the colour of silk thread and gently embroider over the marks. Time consuming, but it would be effective and not damage the silk.

  13. vertugarde

    vertugarde Alumni

    Acrylic paint should not have been used. As Nicole said more damage is likely to be the result. Mold or mildew could be the cause of the staining. If the storage conditions were poor and the kimono wasn't aired out regularly then yes, damage like this will occur. If the overall condition of the silk is good and strong I might have tried to used direct sunlight to bleach the stains. Since the kimono is self-coloured there would be less danger in colour fading. I wouldn't recommend trying this method on printed or dyed vintage fabrics.
  14. vintagebaubles

    vintagebaubles Administrator Staff Member

    I don't know if this would have been a good idea or not, but there are special, permanent paints made just for fabric. Some of them may be suitable for silk (you'd have to find out for sure before trying). I have a blue silk dress that has permanent discoloration under the arms. First having the dress dry cleaned so there was no soil left, I tried some fabric paint. The only problem was that I couldn't match the color exactly, so I didn't finish the job. But years later, the dress is still here, without damage from the paint. One of these days, I'm going to see if I can mix a color to match.

    But, my dress is not as old or as valuable as yours, and I don't recall what's in the paint.... In any event, too late now, but here's hoping that the fabric holds up!

    The kimono is beautiful.
  15. Midge

    Midge Super Moderator Staff Member

    The fabric paint I know is either for cotton or for silk - these are different types of paint (not those markers you see so often now, but "proper" paint in pots). I don't know how that would react with vintage fabrics. Another matter is, these paints are not totally permanent once you've painted them on, usually they require ironing for them to become permanent/waterproof, so that you could wash the fabric. At least that's my experience. I dabbled a bit in silk painting years ago, and my mother did it quite a lot for some time. Have also painted a few t-shirts in my life.

    I doubt though that white silk paint would have done the job here. Silk paint is usually very thin, and to be used on light white silk, and maybe diluted with a bit more water - the paint should "flow". I think it wouldn't be strong enough to cover another color.

    I would certainly not use acrylic paint on fabric. Acrylics are good for solid undergrounds. Some acrylic paints can "bleed" on certain grounds - meaning if you painted something red, the red would slowly stain the immediate area around it that's not painted, too.

  16. claireshaeffer

    claireshaeffer VFG Member

    There is a lesson here. Even if it looks clean, be sure before you store it.
  17. jackobear

    jackobear Registered Guest

    I hope this isn't considered spam, and it wasn't my intention to list this here originally, but I figured I'd post it since it got so much attention and you guys have full disclosure regarding the stains. I've put the kimono up on ebay...auction ends next friday night (April 9th).

    Thanks again for all the help
  18. jackobear, I'm watching your auction and I'm glad that you declared the painting - I hope you don't mind me saying this, but I think it's likely you've reduced it's value. Certainly I would not buy a vintage kimono that had been painted, I'd prefer it to have the original silk embroidery even if it's yellowed.

    All the same, I hope you get a good price for it, it's a beautiful piece.

  19. jackobear

    jackobear Registered Guest

    Thank you, originally I thought that when I paint with acrylic I can always wash it out w/ water if needbe, but apparently silk doesn't work like that...also I wasn't finding any alternative solutions...the only dyes I could find weren't white and sunbleaching wasn't suggested until afterwards although I've since learned that that can lead to damage as well. I'm also pressed for time and honestly it looks far better now than it did before...I dunno what else could've been done. It seemed like a lost cause otherwise. I know ppl say 'take it to a cleaner' but I simply don't accept this submission to authority type of thing...they don't have magic wands...what would they do? They also cost a crapton and take a while to deal with, assuming I can find one that knows how to deal with this weird piece of clothing. You're probably right though...its kinda amateurish, but I need to move this dress...at the very worst, I like to learn about anything anyways and I didn't have anything to lose, so whatever.

    In other news, I'll be putting up a few more silk items (w/o paint) in the coming weeks.

    btw, the lesson here is to air out silk once and a while...this was not a caused by an accident, but rather lack of care...also the paint did not bleed in my case.

    Thanks again
  20. jackobar, you're in good company here because we all have issues with beautiful but marked silk pieces - I have two ways of dealing with them: either I cover the mark in some way or I sell as is. Your paint will probably be fine and if there is any damage (eg bleeding) it may take years to arrive. In any case, it won't be your problem and you've done the right thing by declaring it.


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