The matter of removing spots, stains and various discolorations from garments is an extremely difficult one. In order to advise as to how a spot may be removed, it is necessary to know what caused the spot and also to understand the nature of the cloth. (Give the spot a hard brushing with a stiff brush to remove all dust and loose dirt). Where the nature of the spot is not definitely known it is a pretty good plan first to try moderately warm soft water and a mild wool soap. (Ivory soap has been recommended for this purpose). It is a good plan to place a clean white blotter under the spot, this will absorb the moisture; then work from the outside of the spot toward the center in order to avoid spreading it and making an ugly circle around the original spot. This in fact is the most difficult portion of the work for unless the cleaning is carefully done the spot may be enlarged. If working on white material use a piece of white cloth to do the rubbing; if working on dark material a piece of dark cloth may be used. Select for this rubbing process some kind of cloth which will not leave lint. It is best to use water rather sparingly, but to use the soap freely; the soap can be gradually worked out of the material by continuing the rubbing with a clean rag and more water.
If soap and water will not remove the spot some other method must be tried. A number of different liquid preparations have been made for the purpose of removing spots, particularly from the finer materials like the worsteds and the woolens. There is, however, no liquid which can be recommended for all kinds of materials and all kinds of spots, as has been previously explained. If the spot is caused by grease of some kind, it can usually be removed with the soap and water process, or with gasoline.
Another liquid which is highly recommended, and is used by tailors, is a mixture of equal parts of ether, ammonia and (grain) alcohol. It should be mixed in a bottle so it can be well shaken before using. As it evaporates rapidly, it should be tightly corked when not in use.
Before applying this liquid to a spot on a fine garment first try a little of it on the wrong side on the surplus material in a seam, in order to determine whether the liquid will damage the color of the goods. It is never safe to apply any cleaning fluid on the right side of a fine garment until after you have tested it. There may be some chemical with which the cloth was colored that will be destroyed by the cleaning fluid, thus making a worse spot than the original. Apply the cleaning fluid in the manner described for the use of water and soap.
Tailors who have a great deal of cleaning to do make a convenient rubbing rag or "spotter" by rolling a strip of woolen cloth about 2 1/2" or 3" wide into a tight roll and tying it. The ends of the roll furnish an excellent rubbing rag because it will absorb the dirt as it is dissolved by the cleaning fluid. Sometimes a small stiff brush is used to rub a spot. A brush is particularly serviceable if the spot is on a coarsely woven material. The three-part cleaning fluid recommended here will be serviceable not only in removing grease but also in dealing with a great many spots which can not be removed by gasoline. It is superior to gasoline because it will also remove dirt, carbon dust, and other impurities which may be contained in the grease. Gasoline is effective only on grease or oily substances.
In using gasoline or, in fact, any kind of cleaning liquid great care must be exercised to avoid explosions. Cleaning should never be done near a fire or a lighted lamp. In fact if the room is closed there should be no fire or lamp even in the same room where the cleaning is being done. You should never attempt to dry the material or your hands over a fire if they are moist with cleaning fluid. Gasoline, and in fact all cleaning fluids, are very inflammable and the greatest precaution must be used.
It is sometimes necessary to clean an entire garment, such as a silk waist, or a thin dainty wrap. This can be done by washing the entire garment in a vessel of gasoline allowing it to soak long enough to remove grease spots. Sometimes when an entire garment is to be wet it is well to mark the worst spots by sewing around them with a basting thread; this will enable one to select the spots when the garment is wet and give them special attention. A garment so washed in gasoline should be dried in the open air. In fact to avoid danger, all of this work should be done out of doors, if possible. The odor of gasoline will soon leave the garment if it is left in the fresh air. It is not advisable for inexperienced cleaners to attempt to wash a large padded garment such as a coat or overcoat in gasoline; it is better to deal simply with the soiled spots as previously explained.
Gasoline in which a garment has been cleaned may be poured into a tight fitting vessel such as a fruit jar or jug and kept for future use. The dirt and impurities washed out of the garment will soon settle to the bottom of the gasoline; the clean liquid can then be poured off and used again.