The Gentlest Extraction Method

MB Exclusive.
Oct 7, 2006
"The Gentle Extraction Method"
by Jim Pemberton - Fabric Pro Specialist
One of the more common risky issues that you will face as a fine fabric care expert is removing spots from fabric that might experience texture distortion during spot removal.

When fabrics are heavily soiled, overall cleaning usually changes texture somewhat evenly over the entire fabric, so texture changes from cleaning are rarely noticed.

In the case of lightly soiled fabrics, or clean fabrics with just one spot, this issue becomes much more challenging.

In both cases, the use of an "absorbent powder" may help you.

Absorbent powders that are used by the cleaning industry are usually finely ground minerals, cellulose materials, or synthetic adsorbent material. While their primary use is for carpet spotting purposes, fine fabric specialists find them invaluable for treating spots on the hypersensitive fabrics we are discussing here.

What these absorbent powders allow you to do - is to extract your spotting agent, moisture, and the spot itself into the powder with no mechanical action or vacuum, (both of which can contribute to texture damage). This technique also allows the moisture to be pulled directly up and into the powder, instead of it being allowed to migrate out to the perimeter of where moisture was applied, which may cause a water mark.

Here are a few hints on how to get your best use out of such a product.


This delicate fabric has a stubborn wine stain that must be removed without damaging the texture-

#1 - Qualify Qualify Qualify!
If a fabric is sensitive to texture changes and water stains, the fact that anything was spilled on the fabric may already be causing the problem to occur. Your process is to make sure that you don't make it worse, but you cannot guarantee that it hasn't already happened! Have that information put into writing on your inspection form.

#2 - Apply distilled water overall before any spotting or cleaning agents. Distilled water will help to prevent water marks, and may help to eliminate one that has already formed. Apply it over the entire cushion or section of the fabric you are treating.

#3 - Apply your spotting agent on the tip of a towel or cotton swab. Do not wipe, scrub, or even blot. At most, VERY gently tamp the spot with a soft brush to move the spotter into the spot.

#4 - Apply the absorbent powder about 1/8" thick, and then evenly over the cushion face or from seam to seam on the fabric. This is important because absorbent powders will remove the spotting material and soil, and sometimes leave a cleaner area than where cleaning alone was performed.


Evenly apply absorbent powder to the stained areas, and adjacent areas of the fabric as well-

#5 - Allow the powder to dry. This may take hours, so perform this process at your location, not in your customer's home, if at all possible.

#6 - Very gently brush away the powder. If any seems to be sticking to the fabric, its likely not dry enough. Use compressed, filtered air to remove any remaining surface powder, then vacuum with very gentle, low velocity vacuum equipment.

#7 - If the spot remains, but appears to be improving, repeat the process.

#8 - Advise your customer, and get permission in writing, if more aggressive spotting and extraction procedures are needed for complete spot removal.


"The wine stain has been completely removed from the fabric, with no texture distortion, water stains, or color loss-

As with any cleaning issue, and especially when cleaning hypersensitive high value fabrics, its ultimately your customer's responsibility for the incident that created the spot. You must never take any action, even as gentle as using absorbents in this fashion, without your customer having a clear understanding of the risks involved, and having that understanding in writing.

Apr 18, 2018
Hi. For sensitive fabrics I use chem spec oriental shampoo. If you are worried about damaging the fabric itself you can lay a window screen over the farbric with a standard hand tool. If it’s really high risk use a screen and a curtain tool. I did this on a couch with hand woven flowers. I knew I would have sucked them off in an instant. Used the oriental shampoo sprayed on with a hand sprayer. Came out fantastic. Also another great trick I learned from a Korean lady was to lay paper towels on something your afraid of getting water stains. The moisture will evaporate through the paper towel trapping the water stain. It works!!
Likes: Old Coastie
Oct 2, 2007
This should date me quite a bit........ In the late seventies I was a young'un that caught on with an "elite" cleaning company. Back then, they were commanding $.35 a square for in home, $2 a square for plant cleaning area rugs and were THE company to clean not only bleeders but raw cottons by the mile. When a hard piece was done, it was immediately coated with diatomaceous earth (works well as a natural pesticide as it gets into the exoskeleton and the critters die of dehydration.) The fugitive dyes usually bled onto the powder. Although not perfect it worked fairly well and if it didn't it was qualified and signed off on. We did the same thing on raw cotton and it worked ok there as well.

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