Thursday, May 26, 2011

How to deal with stains on your chef coat

When you work as a chef, you encounter every possible type of stain. There’s tomato sauce, wine, coffee, chocolate, oil splatter, and even blood. And during busy, hectic shifts, there’s not time to deal with every stain that comes your way. So you end up with a chef coat covered in set-in stains, which is especially painful if it was expensive. Today, I’m going to share some tips with you about how to deal with stains on your chef coat. Hopefully you’ll be able to save your chef coat (and other chef apparel) from a premature trip to Goodwill!

Prevention

The best way to keep your chef coat free of stains is to, well, not get stains on it. You should get a high-quality apron that is large enough to adequately protect your chef coat. I know that kitchens are scorching hot, and a lot of chefs forgo the apron for this very reason. But honestly, does an apron really make you feel significantly warmer? And is that little, tiny bit of extra warmth enough for you to sacrifice your beautiful, expensive chef coat? I would hope not. The Chef Works apron on the right offers a good amount of coverage and a sharp look.  

Address the mess

So you tried to prevent stains with a good apron, but alas, stains made their way to the exposed parts of your chef coat. Now what? Well, before I tell you what to do, it's worth mentioning what NOT to do. 
  • Don't use hot water, no matter what anyone says! Hot water will do nothing but cook you up a hot mess and set in stains nice and deep. Use warm or cold water. 
  • Don't use bleach except as a last resort. Bleach will weaken fibers, and it will eventually turn fabric yellow or gray. It will also fade any embroidery that you have on your coat, which will not make your employer happy at all. 
  • Don't ever put a stained chef coat in the dryer. This will only set the stains. If you haven't gotten the stains out, hang the chef coat to dry. 
  • Don't keep rubbing a stain if it seems like you're just rubbing it deeper into the fabric. You probably are. Use a different approach. 
Now that you know the no-nos, I'll give you the good tips.
  • Carry a detergent pen or stain remover wipes with you (not ones with bleach). This will allow you to get to work on a stain sooner, which may save your chef coat. 
  • Vinegar and club soda are also great stain removers that you probably have access to in the kitchen. White vinegar is good for tomato, coffee, grease, and wine stains. Club soda is also good for wine stains. Saturate the stain as much as possible, and dab the stain with a clean cloth. 
  • When you get home, soak your chef coat in warm water with oxygen-based detergent like OxiClean. Try and soak it for an hour or more.
  • Once you've soaked your chef coat, take a look and see what stains remain. 
    • If there are grease stains, try using a dishwashing detergent like Cascade. These types of detergents are made to break up grease and oil. Rub a little detergent into the stain and let sit for a few minutes. If you have a severe grease stain, try a product called Lestoil, which you can find at hardware stores. Lestoil has a strong smell and it's pretty harsh, so you should really only use it as a last resort. If you do decide to use Lestoil, wash the coat first in cold water to get rid of the residues from the other detergents you tried. Lestoil doesn't react well with other chemicals. 
    • If you have coffee, red wine, or tomato stains, try soaking them in white vinegar. Even if you already tried dabbing them with vinegar at the kitchen, soaking them may make a difference. Saturate the stain completely with white vinegar and let it sit for ten minutes. If the stain remains, try using Shout gel or another stain remover. Follow the directions on the label. If you're really desperate and nothing has worked so far, try a carpet spot cleaner. Again, this should be a last resort. Harsher products are more damaging to fabrics. As I stated before, bleach should only be used as a last resort. If you do decide to use bleach, only use it with warm water. The combination of hot water and bleach cause serious yellowing. 
  • Once you've done what you can to deal with the stains by hand, wash the chef coat in warm or cold water using bleach-free detergent. You can also add oxygen-based detergent to the wash, following the instructions on label. Add a cup of white vinegar to the final rinse to get the chef coat sparkling white.
Chef coats for the accident-prone

Some people are simply stain magnets. If you're one of those people, perhaps you should consider one of these chef coats. 
This ladies' executive chef coat by Dickies comes in white as well as stain-hiding black, celery, and cobalt. The coat is made from a 65% polyester and 35% cotton micro-stretch twill, and features a soil-release finish. And gosh darn it, it looks sharp!
The Aruba chef coat by Uncommon Threads has short sleeves, so there's less of a chance of you staining it. It also has a moisture-wicking mesh back, keeping you cool enough that you won't mind wearing an apron. This chef coat comes in black and white. 
This basic 3/4 sleeve chef coat by Chef Works comes in five colors, so you're sure to find one that matches your favorite stains. And again, the 3/4 sleeves mean less fabric to stain. 

29 comments:

  1. It must be very hard to clean a chef coat. With so many food stains on it.
    I've heard that chefs do not get that dirty, though.

    ---
    Cleaners London

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  2. Hi John, that's somewhat true. A lot of people say that a good chef is able to avoid stains in the first place. But I personally know a few outstanding chefs who are just messy. I know that if I was a chef, I'd need to wear a Hazmat suit :)

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  3. what about that black stuff you pick up from the bottom of pots? is there anyway to get rid of that? I think the coat I have now is probably beyond hope, I've washed, bleached, sprayed, to no avail. But do you have any tips so I can save the next one?

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  4. Hi Dagmar: I would soak it in water and OxiClean for a full 24 hours, and then wash it again according to the instructions on the label. Try that and tell me if it works!

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  5. As a professional Chef one of the tricks that we use on our coats when they get bad is to use our oven cleaner on them. It's a product called Greasestrip by Ecolab. Not only is it a fantastic cleaner in our kitchen but it works amazing on those coats that have turned that funky blackish-grey color from working on the griddle all day. We will generally dilute it down as it's some pretty thick stuff and then spray it directly on the coats. You have to cover the whole surface otherwise you will see exactly where you sprayed and where you missed. Let them sit for about an hour and then wash in hot water with regular detergant and bleach. The results are spectacular and has saved me having to buy unifomrs over and over again for my kitchen

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  6. I have black chef coats (65/35 polyester/cotton) and I work a either the griddle or a saute station for up to 8 hours a day. I happened to be helping my wife with the laundry and pulled my chef coats out of the washer (we always wash in cold) and noticed that there is a greasy whitish stain around the fore arms and the stomach area (the exact height of our griddle and 6-eye range). (BTW, I do use aprons all the time) My wife said that it always looks like that when it comes out of the washer (I had no idea!), but disappears after it dries (we hang it to dry). I tried stain removers and natural detergents to no effect. I hesitate to use harsher chemicals because the black would fade noticeably compared the rest of the jacket. Haven't tried the Cascade or Lestoil route, but will soon. Just looking for more suggestions since we use a high effifiency (he) washer. (harder to use dish detergent in those).

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  7. @greasestrip+ guy: im surprised u put that on your coat haha i use that stuff too but for only the toughest of jobs like if a steamtable ran dry but ill have to try it on one of my white coats, not gonna risk it on the black ones but good to know it won't eat away at the fibers

    @steve bowman: i actually had the same problem but i applied generous amounts of Dawn dish soap and scrubbed it in, swished it around in the sink in burning hot water, repeated as necessary, then washed my coat and it literally felt like it weighed less cuz months and months of grease had been removed

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  8. How do you get rid of the gray stains picked up from leaning against stainless steel counters?

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  10. Those are really great stain removal tips, but I manage to find even better website, which offers an incredible advices, for an example here: How to remove oil and grease stains

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  11. This article is so helpful! It is nearly impossible to remove stains from chef apparel .

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  12. Hi, Hope you are fine and good. Thanks for the very nice informative post about chefs coat stains. Really this is a normall things and this article is so so useful for everyone. Who relates with this job.

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  15. I usually wear a button up white shirt if I'm cooking that day. I always save my chef coat to put on only when I have to go out to the dining room to speak with a guest.And always have a back up in the office.

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  16. Thanks for the tips! I just got a stain on my chef uniform, here in Kansas City, and I have been trying to get it out, but I have been having a hard time with it, this should help me out.

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  17. Thank you for all of the helpful information! Because mine has been dirtied up, I've been looking for a really nice and new chef uniform near Kansas City . Would you happen to have any suggestions?

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