Cleaning Upholstery takes a level of expertise way beyond the typical carpet cleaner. This is due to the type of dirt involved, the different shapes of furniture and the different fabrics used.
Upholstery dirt is primarily people and pet issues. People shed dead skin cells, hair and hair dander along with sweat and body oils through exposed skin. Cosmetics, hair sprays and other beauty items get on upholstery. Plus, children and parties increase the likelihood of spills. If you have animals, their hair, body oils and dander are probably getting on your furniture. Over time, all these tend to accumulate into the fabric.
Furniture designs and styles contribute different degrees of difficulty to clean. An easy working surface is a flat one. However, furniture has many corners and edges which make the application of cleaning solutions and the removal of the associated dirt very difficult. Skill and experience are required to effectively clean these areas.
Upholstery also uses many different types of fabrics than carpet or rugs ranging from natural materials like silk to synthetics like nylon. Having a cleaner who knows what they are doing is extremely important. For example, many companies will not clean silk because of the potential for splotching or streaking to occur. Also, if not properly cleaned, white furniture, especially cottons and wools, can turn brown.
Typically, people clean their furniture to look better. However, if it is something you plan on keeping, periodic cleaning to remove the impacted dirt is advised. It is like your clothes, even though they may not look dirty, you wash them to remove the dirt and soil from use.
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.
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.