Stains on a jacket from fermented watermelon. Can I mask the damage?
July 12, 2016 7:46 PM   Subscribe

This dingleberry left a watermelon in a bag in her car on a hot day. Even more stupidly, I covered it with my favorite jacket. The watermelon must've fermented/exploded, then whatever sludge was left gave my navy blue 98% cotton, 2% spandex trim jacket (with gold metal lobster clasps and some similar hardware) some funky bleached-out patterns that haven't come out after two washes. How can I mask the damage so that the jacket is a solid color again?

After the two washes, and realizing the jacket probably spent a day or two in this solution (not to mention that it soaked into my car carpet--woof/separate problem), I took it to a good dry cleaners today and was told there was nothing they could do. The fermented sludge definitely bleached out parts of the fabric, she said. The dry cleaner suggested that I could try dyeing it to a darker navy or black, though she was uncertain whether that would work. Then she also suggested I could use diluted bleach and just continue the distressed pattern (several people have mentioned how cool the jacket looks now).

If pressed, I would rather return it to a solid color (but since I wear this jacket ALL THE TIME, I'm willing to accept whatever would be the soundest course ahead). If the thinking is that dyeing it dark wouldn't work, could I bleach the whole thing and dye it a new color? Suffice it to say there just seem to be so many options, but I'm uncertain which would be best despite some internet searching and could use some expert advice.

Speaking of--what actually caused the bleaching to happen? I'm thinking it has something to do with the production of CO2 during the fermentation and the resulting acidic liquid did it? Feel free to enlighten me!

Thanks so much for any help/ideas!!!
posted by trampoliningisfun to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (6 answers total)
I would have thought dyeing it would work, but it's possible it won't work, or will give a patchy or weird result (due to different dye process, the particular fibres etc). You could try "dyeing" the bleached out spots with either a liquid dye, or even ink if you're feeling experimental. Other than that, would it work to cover the bleached spots with some kind of sewn in patch or embroidery/beading or some other ornament?
posted by glitter at 8:29 PM on July 12, 2016

Indigo is the traditional dye used for denim. It's a vegetable dye, so it's vulnerable to fading in sunlight and in acid, so, the hallmark of jeans. You could get an indigo based textile dye and try to match the colors, but it would be very time consuming and require a lot of skill with dye tint strength to get a perfect match. The sunlight and slightly acidic nature of the plant fermenting is most likely the factor that bleached your garment. I think your best option, if you want a pristine look, is to buy a replacement.
posted by effluvia at 9:05 PM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

You might want to look into this stuff. I have some on hand, but haven't used it yet. It's supposedly more gentle and less damaging to fabric fibers than chlorine bleach, which can apparently make fibers less receptive to dying. So if I were you I would use the color remover, then a dark color dye. I'm afraid that if you were to overdye the jacket, as is, without evening out the color, it might still come out splotchy.

And then, if you want to go to greater lengths, use a fixative, to make the dye less likely to run/fade.
posted by theperfectcrime at 9:33 PM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I agree with the dry cleaner-- either dye the jacket dark, dark, dark blue or deco-bleach the whole thing.

Spandex is damaged by extreme heat and chlorine bleach-- so you should determine how much you need the stretch. There's a possibility that the fabric will stretch out permanently if the spandex is destroyed.

You can get halfway decent results with supermarket dyes, RIT. You need a giant stock pot-- three times the volume of the jacket. As you boil the dye and jacket, lift the garment and reposition so that dye circulates completely. Dye it twice as long as you think necessary. Throw in a half cup of salt at the end.

In regrds to bleaching, you could try peroxide instead of chlorine. If you have a Sally's nearby, get a bottle of 30 or 40 volume developer. Don't get the "gel" formulation. Purchase a pair of gloves and couple long handled brushes. you could chop up the ends of one to make uneven application. Swirl and Spatter the bleach rapidly over all surfaces-- under the arms and underside of collar, inside the pockets. You could do a timed application for different tones-- apply more peroxide at 3 minute intervals. After 10 minutes, rinse the coat in water and then soak in water mixed with vinegar to neutralize the pH.
posted by ohshenandoah at 8:45 AM on July 14, 2016

Response by poster: Thank you all! I will investigate the color remover and a very, very dark blue Rit dye. The longer I think about it, I'd prefer a solid color. But ohshenandoah, if I need to try the peroxide route, I've got your advice at hand. Again, many thanks!!
posted by trampoliningisfun at 12:50 PM on July 15, 2016

A watermelon exploded on my pretty 1950s rosewood desk last night after it had been sitting in my warm apartment for maybe 5 days. I thought of this question. Before you wrote this, I had never known a melon could just self-destruct, but now I know well.
And I realized a zen koan of sorts: FRUIT IS A PROCESS.

posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:44 PM on July 24, 2016

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