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February 19, 2019


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Fabric University | Science Projects | Effectiveness of Pretreatment Products
Science Project Ideas


Hypothesis: Pretreament products remove stains which laundry detergent alone can´t. Some pretreatment products work better than others at removing certain stains.

Items Needed: 6 inch by 6 inch pieces of white fabric; 2 or more pretreatment stain products; a variety of stains; a permanent marker; and a note pad.

  • Decide which pretreatment products you want to test, i.e., Shout®, Spray´N Wash®, Clorox®, etc.; some come in both sprays and sticks too.
  • Select a type of fabric to be stained. For example, you might select a 100% cotton, a 50/50 cotton/polyester blend, and/or a 100% polyester fabric. If you decided to use all three types then you could see if the fiber content of the fabric affects the effectiveness of the test products. White fabric is preferred because it shows stains better.
  • Cut the fabric into 6 inch by 6 inch pieces. There should be one fabric piece for each product plus one extra one that will not be pretreated. If you decide to test two pretreatment products you´ll need 3 fabric pieces. If you also decide to test fabric with different fiber contents, you will need the same number of pieces for each fiber content.
  • It is important to mark each fabric piece so you can determine which pretreatment product was used on which piece. Use a permanent marker to add a number to the upper left hand corner of each piece, i.e., 1, 2, 3, etc. and a letter if different fiber contents are tested, i.e. 1A, 1B, 1C, 2A, 2B, 2C, etc. In your note pad write down which pretreatment product will be used on which fabric piece, and on which piece no pretreatment product will be used.
  • Select some common stains to apply to the fabric, such as cooking oil, butter, milk, chocolate, Kool-Aid®, mustard, ball point pen, tomato sauce, & lipstick. Or, choose some of your favorites.
  • After you selected the stains, start in the upper left area of the fabric, below it´s mark, and apply the stains in rows and columns in same order on each piece of fabric. You should also take a sheet of paper and make a sketch of a fabric piece, and write the name of the stain in the area where it is applied.
  • Next, apply the pretreatment product to each stain, following the product instructions written on the label. Use only one product on each fabric piece.
  • Wash the fabric pieces in the same washing machine load, so the detergent and washing conditions will be exactly the same.
  • When the washing is complete, place the fabric in the dryer. When dried, remove the pieces and evaluate how the products worked. Make a table for each fabric piece/product used, list the stains, and mark down your evaluation for each stain. You might used terms like "stain completely removed," "light stain remains," "moderate stain remains," "stain generally unaffected."
  • After you have completed your evaluation, you should summarize the findings for each product. For example, you might conclude that Product A totally removed the cooking oil, butter, milk, & chocolate stains, but moderate stains still remained when used on Kool-Aid and ball point pen, and really didn´t worked on mustard, tomato sauce, & lipstick.
  • Rank each of the products based on your evaluation. Included the untreated fabric peice in your ranking.

  • Your evaluation of the fabric piece that didn´t have any pretreatment is important in judging just how much the pretreatment really helped. For, example, if the detergent removed the stain without any help, that indicates that no pretreatment was really necessary. The most important stains to look at are those that were not removed on the untreated fabric, but are completely gone on the pretreated fabric.
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