I have a fabric that has a label stating “Dry-Clean Only.” The fact is that very few fabrics actually require dry cleaning.
The goal of voluntary care labeling by manufacturers of furniture is laudable, however very few tags that recommend “dry cleaning only” reflect a true need for that type of cleaning. Contrary to the manufacturer’s label guidelines, most fabrics clean easily and safely with water-based cleaning solutions performed by qualified professional upholstery cleaners. My suspicion is that by putting “Dry Clean Only” on the furniture, the manufacturer removes the chance of a homeowner trying to clean it themselves, creating problems and then blaming the manufacturer for the problem.
The reasons that fabrics may require dry cleaning are: Colorfastness, texture change, dimensional stability, or finish damage. However, a qualified professional upholstery cleaner should be able to identify when dry cleaning is necessary.
The reality is dry cleaning with solvents will never clean a fabric as well as water-based methods of cleaning. The reason is that water-based solutions are most effective when removing water-based spills, but dry cleaning solvents are only effective on oily soils and spots. Most furniture, when subjected to “normal use”, is exposed to more water-based soils and spills than ones that are oily in nature. Also, oils from skin, hair and animals are removed more efficiently with a water based cleaning utilizing the appropriate preconditioning agents.
If dry cleaning is required: The use of dry cleaning solvents present both health and fire hazards. Therefore, organic vapor respirators, solvent-resistant gloves and aprons, and protective eyewear are required to do the work. The work area must have adequate ventilation to remove the fumes, and under no circumstances should building occupants or pets be anywhere in or around the rooms where this cleaning is being done.
Wool carpets and rugs are very durable but have you noticed that the fibers are getting picked up by your vacuum. Are you worried that the carpet or rug is degrading? Don’t worry. This is a natural characteristic of wool carpets and rugs.
Some pilling and shedding can occur with all wool carpets and rugs. This is a natural characteristic of wool because wool carpets and rugs are made from short “staple” fibers. A staple fiber is a short length of fiber generally ranging from 4 to 8 inches long which is then spun into a yarn comprised of these short lengths. As we all know, wool is sheared from sheep. The result is short lengths of fiber which is then woven into a yarn. Because the yarn is made up of millions of short fibers, there are millions and millions of ends of these fibers in the carpet. Kind of like split ends in a person’s hair. It is impossible to remove all of these loose ends in the construction process. The result is these ends come out or shed when vacuuming.
Once again, no need to worry. Wool carpets will not wear out from the loss of fiber. Just like any carpet/rug type, they can “ugly out” from use and abuse but they won’t fall apart. Also, the thicker the carpet yarn, the more likely you are to see shedding. Once again, no need to panic. The shedding should diminish with time but it will never go away completely. There will always be some fiber in the vacuum canister. Remember, this is normal.
You may look at your carpets, want to replace them but would rather not spend the money. With a little effort, you can extend their useful life and maintain your beautiful home. Typical situations that mar the beauty are spots and spills, wear patterns and rippling or buckling of the carpet. I have addressed ways to remove spots and spills in past blogs, however, sometimes they are permanent. For these situations, a strategically placed throw rug or piece of furniture may be your best approach. High use areas or traffic patterns are a result of concentrated foot traffic that is actually wearing the carpet away. Because the tops of the carpet fibers are being worn and frayed, they look dull. These frayed fibers will also absorb spills quicker and hold dirt more readily than non-worn areas. Therefore, more frequent vacuuming (daily would be great) of the traffic patterns will help them look better and last longer. Immediate blotting of any spills will help reduce the probability of them becoming permanent stains. Carpets that are rippling or buckling can be the result of different factors but they can be easily and economically remedied by having the carpets stretched.
Finally, periodic professional cleaning by experienced companies will restore and maintain their beauty.
Sisal Rugs are woven from natural plant fibers. They are strong, durable and due to their unique advantages, can be a lasting addition to a living room, bedroom, office or hallway. However, moisture and humidity can create problems on sisal rugs. If a large amount of liquid is introduced to the rug, the rug may actually shrink and distort. Also, the plant fibers absorb a liquid very easily and result in a large stain. For this reason, a sisal rug should be used in a dry place which is unlikely to be subject to spills. It is also important to keep this in mind when you clean a sisal rug. Be very careful with the amount of moisture used.
If liquid is spilled onto a sisal rug, it needs to be removed immediately. To remove the liquid from a sisal rug, blot the rug with a dry cloth and keep blotting with dry parts until there is no more transfer of liquid to the cloth. Also, make sure not to rub the spill because this can drive the liquid into the fiber. If possible, you may find it helpful to lift the rug up and blot from the underside as well. If a staining liquid such as juice is spilled, clean a sisal rug with one-half white vinegar and one-half water solution. Dip a cloth in the solution, blot the rug, and then blot with a dry cloth. You may need to repeat this, but remember to use a small amount of water to clean a sisal rug so that the rug does not absorb the liquid. For dry materials, you can scrape it off with a blunt edge, such as a wooden knife. Finally, the sisal rug should be vacuumed regularly to take up accumulated dirt. If you vacuum a sisal rug on a frequent basis, you will also prolong the life of the rug, since embedded dirt tends to damage its fibers.
If you are going to have a sisal rug in an area prone to spills, you may want to consider treating it with a fabric protector. However, pick a fabric protector that does not use water as its application medium.
Whether you have expensive oriental rugs or just good everyday rugs, here are some tips to take care of them and make them last longer.
Vacuum rugs. This should be done at least once a week.
Turn or rotate the ends of a rug. This should be done once a year. However, it is a must to turn them at least every two years. Turning prevents more wear in one area than in another. It also helps to prevent “traffic patterns” from occurring as in carpeted rooms.
Moth considerations for wool and oriental rugs. Rugs regularly vacuumed or located in well used rooms are less likely to have moth damage. Moths work in secluded, undisturbed areas such as under beds, skirted sofas, or heavy furniture. Move furniture occasionally when vacuuming and clean under it. Also, homes not well ventilated or rooms closed for long periods of time are more likely to have moth problems, so once again vacuum rugs regularly.
Sunlight considerations. Direct, sunlight will gradually fade a rug. To avoid this, cover windows with drapes, curtains or shutters and use them to block strong morning and afternoon sunlight. Also, consider window glass treatments and rug treatments for UV light protection.
Plants or flowerpot considerations. Live plants requiring water should never be placed directly on rugs. Dampness from the bottom of the pots will cause mildew and rot, gradually destroying the fibers of the rug and resulting in drastic damage. Plants should be in a stand, preferably on wheels. Also, there should be a space between the pot and rug for air to circulate. Use a container under the flowerpot to avoid water dripping onto the rug.
Storage considerations. Always store rugs inside the home at room temperature. Do not store in attics that can get too hot or in garages that can get damp as this could cause a rug to dry rot and become brittle. The rug should be inspected and vacuumed at least once a year.
Parties are fun but they provide an increased chance of spills. Kids are a blessing but they typically raise the chances for a spilled drink here and there and just life in general creates spills.
It is best to get to a spill as soon as possible and remove it. The problem is you can never find a towel when you need it. So here is the trick. Find some old towels and put them under your sofa seat cushions and chair seat cushions. If you fold them neatly, no one will know they are there and then, when the spill happens, a towel is nearby ready for use. Just reach under the nearest seat cushion, pull the towel out and stand on it to blot up and remove the spill. Periodically move the towel so a non-wet portion of it is on the spill. Keep this up until you do not see liquid transferring to the towel.
We have recently received a rash of calls about cleaning up pet urine. So, I thought it would be good to make that the topic of this blog. As funny as this sounds, urine is a rather sophisticated problem. As a result, it requires slightly different approaches depending on whether it is fresh or had time to dry.
When Urine is fresh or still wet, the first step is to remove as much as possible by blotting with a dry towel or rag. Once you have removed as much as possible by blotting, consider applying baking soda to the damp spot. Fresh urine’s PH is on the acidic side and baking soda will help neutralize it. The baking soda will also act as an absorbent to pull more of the urine out of the carpet (or rug). Leave the baking soda on the spot until it is dry. (However, before using baking soda on your carpet or rug, test it on a non-conspicuous area to make sure it does not affect the color.) To remove the baking soda from the carpet, you will probably need to vacuum it many times.
If your pet did not tell you they had an accident and you come across the spot after it has dried, white vinegar and water is your best approach. When urine has dried, the PH of the urine salts is on the alkaline side. Therefore, white vinegar is the best thing to use to neutralize and to remove the urine from the carpet or rug. To address the spot, mix 1/3 white vinegar with 2/3 water in a spray bottle. Spray the dried urine with the mixture, let it sit a few minutes and then remove it by blotting with a dry towel. This process will probably need to be repeated multiple times. Finally, the best way to determine if you have gotten the urine out is to actually smell the area.
Over time your carpets and rugs appearance deteriorates and becomes less attractive. This is due to abrasive soils becoming imbedded in your carpet or rug, which can cause damage to the fibers and reduce the carpet or rug’s life.
Therefore, vacuum frequently and thoroughly. Most wear is caused by dirt. Oily soils attract more oily soil and frequent vacuuming will reduce soil buildup. Vacuum high-traffic areas daily, less-traveled areas at least twice a week.
Institute a no-dirt policy. A no-shoes rule is always effective, but can be difficult to implement. However, you should definitely make sure there are doormats at each entrance to your home. Clean the mats regularly so they don’t become sources of soil themselves.
If furniture rests on the carpet, be sure it gets moved occasionally and use coasters under the furniture’s legs.
Address stains quickly: the longer a stain chemically reacts with the carpet or rug the harder it will be to remove it. Common stains usually don’t require any liquid cleaners stronger than water. Use as little water as possible and blot them clean instead of rubbing or brushing.
Bring professional cleaners in regularly. The commercial grade equipment gets the deeply imbedded dirt out and will make your carpet last longer. The frequency of commercial cleaning will vary based on living conditions. However, for homes with children or active families, it is a good practice to have them cleaned at least once a year.