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Ask Dr. Laundry

Your Questions: Polyurethane Stains

By Dr. Laundry June 27, 2007

I received the following question from a reader—check it out if you’ve had a similar problem.

Q: I SAT ON A BENCH AT A FAVORITE RESTAURANT WEARING WHITE SLACKS. WHEN I GOT UP, I SORT OF STUCK TO THE BENCH. WHEN I WENT TO WASH THE SLACKS, THERE WAS WHAT APPARENTLY IS POLYURETHANE. I BELIEVE THEY WERE STAINING THE BENCH. I DID NOT SEE A SIGN NOR DID ANYONE TELL ME NOT TO SIT DOWN AND WAIT FOR MY FRIEND. ANY SUGGESTIONS? I’ HAVE TRIED NUMEROUS THINGS AND IT IS FADING BUT IT IS STILL VISIBLE IF IT CANNOT BE REMOVED, CAN I DYE THE SLACKS?

A: Bad situation. If it was polyurethane on the white slacks and it has dried, you’re probably out of luck. I might suggest trying a good solvent like Goo Gone to try and coax it off the fabric. Try a small out-of-the-way spot and follow label instructions. Good ventilation should be followed as you use any of these products. If it works then you can try on bigger area/all the remaining surface.

As for dying over the spot, my main concern would be the dye absorbing differently in the stained area. Most likely a splotchy appearance would occur.

Sorry I couldn’t be more positive and sorry for the delay in responding. Way too many things going on in my lab these days keeping me from answering more quickly.

Let me know if this helps or if you have some follow-up questions.