The Effect of Stain Removal on Different Fabrics

Researched by Miranda G.


The purpose of this experiment was to determine how the type of fabric affected ease of stain removal.

I became interested in this idea when I was doing the laundry and realized that stains came out better on some fabrics than others.

The information gained from this experiment would help homemakers, professional cleaners, and large institutions like hospitals, schools, and gymnasiums to purchase easily cleaned fabrics.


My hypothesis was that 100% cotton cloth would be easiest to remove stains from.

I based my hypothesis on observations I made while doing laundry and knowing that most of my clothes made from cotton, they were easier to remove stains.


The constants in this study were:

  • The type of detergent
  • Temperature (cold, wash setting)
  • Time (70 minutes for both washer and dryer)
  • Stain (mixture of cranberry juice, mustard, ketchup, and chocolate syrup)
  • Washer and dryer (used)
  • Color of fabric (white)
  • Washer/dryer setting (delicate)
  • Hardness of the water
  • Amount of the wash water
The manipulated variable was the different types of fabric, which are 100% cotton, 50% cotton-50% polyester and 100% polyester.

The responding variable was the amount of stain removal.

To measure the responding variable I used a colorimeter to determine the whiteness of the cleaned cloth.

450 ml. Cranberry Juice
350 ml. Ketchup
350 ml. Mustard
350 ml. Chocolate Syrup
1 Washer/dryer
1 Bounty Sheet
1 Container 
1 Bottle of Detergent
4 Different Fabrics (100% and 50% cotton and polyester)
10 Of each kind of fabric into 10 by 10 cm. squares
1 Hunter Reflectance Spectrophotometer

1. First, cut each kind of fabric into ten 10 by 10 cm squares.
2. Next mix 350 milliliters of mustard, ketchup, chocolate syrup and 450 milliliters of cranberry juice into a large open container.
3. Place all fabric squares into stain and stir for 2 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes. Stir for 2 more minutes and let sit for 15 more minutes.
4. Remove fabric squares and hang on line to dry.
5. Wait for 12 hours.
6. Then put fabrics in the washing machine for 70 minutes on cold.
7. When the fabrics are done washing, carefully put all the fabrics into 
the dryer.
8.After all the cloths are in the dryer, put the same time as when washing and set on delicate.
9.When you have set the settings for the dryer, put a bounty sheet in, shut the door and push start.
10.When the dryer makes a loud noise, carefully take the fabrics out and then compare each fabricís stain.


The original purpose of this experiment was to determine how the type of fabric affected ease of stain removal.

The results of the experiment were that 50% cotton was the easiest to remove stains from. 

See the table and graph.


My hypothesis was that 100% cotton cloth would be easiest to remove stains from.

The results indicate that this hypothesis should be rejected.

Because of the results of this experiment, I wonder if I and other people should by clothes that are 50% cotton.

If I were to conduct this project again I  would take a lot of notes and work harder.

Research Report


Many people wonder where their clothes and other material made items that they own are made from. They also wonder what their detergent or soap can be used for.


Textile is a woven fabric from raw or manufactured material. Some important textiles are cotton, polyester, rayon, wool, silk, satin, and linen. The word textile is a genetic term "to weave" (Latin). Textiles are not only for clothes. They can be used for other things like bedding, furniture, blankets, rope, and even parachute material. Textile fibers can be woven, knitted, braided, and felted. In ancient Egypt, the earliest fabric was woven from flax.


Cotton is a natural fiber from a tall plant that is spun into yarns. It grows soft white fibers in a fluff mass. Cotton also has strength and absorbency. It is very important in the clothing industry. That is why most clothes are made from cotton. Cotton is not just used for clothing. It could be used for tablecloths, carpeting, furniture, and much more. After the cotton is harvested, ginned, and sold to manufacturers it is turned into cloth.

Cotton Plants

Tiny shrubs of the gossypium genus produce cotton plants. In the gossypium genus it includes hibiscus, okra, and the swamp mallow. The plant has long, white seeded hairs called lint.


Polyester is a strong, flexible, wrinkle proof, plastic that is widely used. The most important kind of this fabric is spun into fibers to make film or to put together other or sculpted into parts of plastic. Polyester is a synthetic polymer. A polymer is a long molecule. Unsaturated polyester is also another important fiber which has unsaturated acids in it.  Researchers found the chemistry of polyester in the 1930ís. Then the aircraft industries began to use unsaturated polyesters in the 1940ís. After that, in the 1950ís, PET fibers became a major product.


Nylon was introduced in the 1930ís, but in the 1940ís other fibers gained importance. Especially when Qiana came out in 1968. Qiana was a silk like fabric that resists wrinkles, retains creases and pleats, has great color clarity, and stays the color you want when dyed. Nylon is stronger than silk and is used for clothing, hosiery, parachute fabric, and rope.


Wool was sold in the city of Dimashq in biblical times. Wool comes from animals like sheep. The best wool came from sheep in Spain called Merino sheep. When China sent silk out as "fashionable", silk outdated wool.


In 37 B.C., silk was announced in China. Emperor Huang Tiís wife found out how to reel the silkworm for weaving. All silk fabrics or raw silk were only exported to the Mediterranean countries for a long time. In 1620, in the western hemisphere, attempts to dig up and grow the silkworm were made. 
Synthetic Fibers
In 1664 an English scientist named Robert Hooke thought of synthesizing a substance similar to that made when a silkworm spins into a cocoon. Two hundred years later, in 1864, another scientist that was French, named Count Hilaire de Chardonnet, launched a commercial production of manufactured fibers. His process was forcing a viscous fluid through tiny nozzles called spinnerets. In 1924, artificial silk was replaced by a more definite word that would be rayon. Rayon was first recognized in the U.S.  in 1937. Two major processes in rayon are viscose rayon and acetate rayon.


A colorimeter, also known as a Hunter Reflectance Spectrophotometer, is an object that uses L, A, and B scales. L measures the whiteness/darkness scales, so if the whiter the item is, the higher the L rate will be. The A and B scales are used to measure colors such as blue vs. yellow and red vs. green. A colorimeter is similar to a box. There is a hole at the top of it and the light shines through that hole. When the object you are scanning is placed on that same hole, put the black lid over the hole. Next press "scan". Then you will find the L, A and B value. For example: the scale value might look like this. L=93.89 A=0.94 B=0.45.


Detergent is a cleaning product use for mainly laundry and dish washing. A German scientist named Fritz Gunther created the first detergent in 1916. Then during World War II, detergents came into wide use for the very first time because the ingredient for soap was in short supply. A detergent is a natural chemical substance made up of carbon, oxygen, sulfur, and hydrogen compounds.


Soap is a cleansing agent made by mixing alkali with fat or fatty acids and consisting basically of sodium or potassium salts. The first soaps were made in Italy in 600 AD. Then after 700 AD France became the main soap maker of the world for the next numerous years. The average American uses about 25 pounds of soap in a year or 11 kg.

Type of Stains

Some items that commonly stain fabrics are chocolate, lipstick, coffee, ketchup, mustard, blood, grass, mud/dirt, juice, and other substances related to those items.


Many people dislike stains on clothing. If a stain canít be removed from a piece of clothing, then they have to buy another. People donít like doing that all the time, especially when it was a nice piece of clothing.

" The World of Textiles "

Hartman, Marvis E. World Book Encyclopedia 1998 "Polyester"

 World Book Encyclopedia 1998 "Cotton"

"Textile" Encarta, 1993

World Book Dictionary, 2002

"Stain Detective" Tide 


I would like to thank the following people.

  • Mr. Newkirk and Mrs. Helms for helping me with my project when needed.
  • My mom and dad for supporting and pushing me to do my best. 
  • My friends Sam, Molly, and Katlin for helping with my project.
  • I would also like to thank Debbie Briesmeister at Tree Top for helping me use the colorimeter.


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