Essential Upholstery Cleaning Guide to Keep Your Furniture Fresh
Whether it’s your favorite chair, or the family couch, every piece of furniture will need some kind of upholstery cleaning. Dirt accumulates on fabrics, and it can quickly make them look worn and old. Even worse, food and other spills can permanently stain upholstery fabrics if you don’t take action almost immediately. Professional upholstery cleaning will make your furniture look much brighter, but you also need answers for everyday cleaning
Clean Off the Larger Pieces
First things first — if you’re made a big mess, you’ll need to remove any large pieces before they stain the furniture. Use a butter knife to gently scrape off the excess from the fabric. If the stain is still fresh, use a rubber spatula to remove as much as you can. Take extra care not to rub the stain in further if it is still wet.
Vacuum the Furniture
Most vacuum cleaners come with a brush attachment, which you can also use as an upholstery cleaner. Go over the whole piece of furniture with the vacuum. Don’t forget to remove all your pillows and cushions from the couches and chairs, and vacuum those as well. Also, go over the area underneath those cushions thoroughly. Don’t forget those cracks in between.
Test an Inconspicuous Area
Most furniture comes with a furniture code that tells you the best method to clean it. However, your furniture may not have this code. To make sure your cleaning the solution is safe for your fabric, you can test it on a small, inconspicuous area of your furniture.
Using Upholstery Cleaner
You can use a store bought upholstery cleaner, or you can make your own. Apply the cleaner to a soft bristle brush. Gently scrub the foam into the fabric of your furniture. Remove the dirty foam with a rubber spatula. You can use a little extra cleaner for tougher stains, but do not add extra pressure. This can grind the stain further into the fabric. This is especially true when dealing with pet stain removal.
How to clean upholstered furniture. Guide to upholstery cleaning.
No matter how hard we try to keep upholstered furniture spotless there comes a time when the gradual build-up of soil and dirt or a household accident creates the need for a professional fabric clean. We can, of course, keep our fabric upholstery regularly vacuumed in order to keep it as clean and fresh as possible but sooner or later vacuuming alone is not enough. Vacuuming will only remove dry soil and dust but certain areas such as kick skirts and arms begin to show marks and discolour. Oils from the skin and hair require thorough removal in order to prevent damage to the fabric itself. Also,spills and stains cannot be removed just by vacuuming.
The vast majority of fabrics that are used in quality upholstery are classified as ” Dry clean only” or ” Professional dry clean”. These are the manufacturer’s instructions. To ignore this leaves one open to no recourse if a problem occurs. Therefore, it is essential to call on an experienced upholstery cleaning company which has the knowledge and expertise to identify the fibre content of the fabric and will use the right cleaning techniques and equipment to achieve top class results and care for the fabric.
It is important, at the outset, to find out if the company you are considering has the ability to to clean your furniture with solvent extraction equipment which can dry clean the fabric onsite. Many companies will attempt to use water-based systems but this carries with it high levels of risk. Manufacturers, almost exclusively, recommend dry cleaning of their fabrics. Designer fabrics deserve Designer quality care. So, if a company cannot guarantee to dry clean your cherished fabrics, do not use them.
Always go for a company which is a member of the National Carpet Cleaners Association ( N.C.C.A.) to be sure that it operates ethically and has trained technicians with many years experience. Technicians who are trained in using portable solvent extraction equipment. That way you will get quality results and breathe new life into your valuable upholstered furniture.
Look for a company with a long history of specialist cleaning and one whose address can be verified as real. Ask to visit their premises. If this is denied, avoid using them. Make sure that the company that you are considering will allow you to talk to a member of management at the end of the work to make sure you are delighted with the finished results. If this is not part of the package do not use the company.
Homeowner’s Guide to Upholstery Cleaning
Pre-inspection is by far the most important step in cleaning upholstery.
Examine the upholstery piece extensively for all pre-existing conditions.
Inspect for previous damage and possible problems.
Look for loose buttons, tears, holes, loose legs, mold, etc.
Cleaning codes are typically found under the seat cushions or on the platform.
These codes offer instructions on how the upholstered furniture pieces in question should be cleaned.
The letter “W” means that it is safe to clean the upholstery item with a water based neutral pH cleaning product.
The letter “F” means that the upholstery should be cleaned with a foamy shampoo product.
The letter “S” on the tag means that the upholstery item should be cleaned with a water-free cleaning product such as a dry cleaning solvent.
If both the letters “W” and “S” appear on the tag then the homeowner can use both types of cleaning products.
However, if the letter “X” appears on the tag of the upholstery item, you should let your furniture items be cleaned by a professional.
Vacuum thoroughly before using any cleaners or spotters.
Remove any remaining pet hair.
Clean upholstery with a mild neutral pH cleaner designed for upholstery (unless the cleaning code indicates professional or dry / solvent cleaning only).
Remove any remaining spots with a mild spotter such as Perky Spot Cleaner. Never rub – blot.
Move furniture back if you pulled it out.
If the upholstery is on a wet carpet or rug, place tabs or plastic under the legs to avoid rust or wood furniture stains.
Dry and groom the cleaned upholstery if needed.
While you can easily rent a carpet cleaning machine to clean your upholstery, but you will probably overwet the sofa or chair and end up with browning and drying problems and a moldy odor.
Leather terms & types of leather:
All leather hides have to be split into two hides because a hide is too thick to upholster or use in any type of manufacturing. The bottom hide is known as split leather. This hide can be sanded down (corrected) and embossed with a consistent graining pattern to be used on the outside back and sides of sofa for a slight cost savings. A split leather is still 100% leather, and has all the same finishing treatments as the top grain portion.
In the above process the top grain portion is the top portion of the hide. It is generally used in the areas that receive more wear since the fiber of top grain is more compact than that of split grain.
Top grain leather that uses the grain of the hide. No correction is made to the grain.
From above, using rollers a consistent graining pattern is “pressed” into the leather. It can be as subtle a small natural looking graining pattern, or as different as a crocodile pattern.
This leather is top grain aniline dyed leather. Small natural markings and scars are sanded from the hide and then it is pigment coated for color consistency. Then a clear protective top-coat is applied to prevent fading and stains.
Aniline – dyed leather that has been waxed or oiled. When the leather is pulled, the oil/wax separates, causing the color to lighten.
Cleaning and Care of Pure Anilines and Nu-Buk Leather Upholstery:
You’ll notice that leather initially repels most spills, but if left to stand, they’ll be absorbed. That’s why it is important to blot any liquids immediately with a clean cloth or sponge and let air dry. Most spills and stains will dissipate with time. For stubborn spots and stains, blot excess liquid immediately with clean absorbent sponge or cloth. If you need more help, use distilled water and a clean white cloth and let air dry. Use soap sparingly and lots of distilled water. Always test a hidden area to convince yourself of the effectiveness of that method.
Know Your Fabric: A Guide To Upholstery Cleaning Codes
Fabrics are categorized into codes in order to provide information of what they are made of, and what cleaning solution is best used to maintain their shape. The code is usually hidden under the seat or on the platform, or on the tags which are attached to the piece. As a furniture owner, knowing what material your upholstery is made of is one thing to keep in mind. This is especially helpful when it comes to the time that you need to take out some stains.
There are 4 general cleaning codes that cover most upholstery material, and it comes with the convenient first letter of the solution that best applies to them.
“W” stands for Water. This means that cleaning your upholstery can easily be done with water, and that you’d be safe even if you use a bit of water based fabric cleaner on the stain. W fabrics are the most durable type of fabric which can withstand spills and wear and tear. Examples of this fabric are faux leather and vinyl.
“S” stands for Solvents. Fabrics under this code requires to be cleaned with cleaning solvents only, and may not react well with water if it is applied on the spot. If you own this type of furniture, it is best to discover a brand of cleaner that will respond to the stain and clear it away. LAVE is an amazing brand made of natural fabric cleaner ingredients and is Kovi Fabrics’ go-to solution for its upholstery.
This code is a combination of water and solvent cleaning code. Fabrics under this category can be cleaned with mild cleaning solvents paired up with distilled water.
The letter says it all: do not attempt to clean. It is not cleanable and only requires proper vacuuming from its user. When stained, ask for professional help in handling the blemish
There are many upholstery cleaning guidelines online which can help users clear out the dirt on their furniture. However, it is important for you to understand the composition of your furniture. Fabrics may be made up of different materials, the most common are nylon, acrylic and polyester. Some contains different blends of fibers which makes its composition, and cleaning, more complex.
Take a look at some of the materials your fabric may contain:
Natural types. Made up of 100% natural fibers which reacts well on water-based cleaners. Types of these fibers are cotton and wool.
Synthetic types. Faux leather and vinyl are two of the top synthetic fiber types, and these can be easily cleaned. Water-based cleaning agents will work on these upholstery types.
Combination types. These contain a percentage of natural fibers and a percentage of synthetic fibers. Most of these furniture require professional cleaning.
Microfiber types. Because of its condensed fiber composition, this fabric is easy to clean and maintain overall. The tightness of the material keeps dirt from settling in and can easily be vacuumed away.
YOUR GUIDE ON HOW TO CLEAN A COUCH
Sofa and upholstery cleaning can be a challenge. Unless you cover your couch in plastic or other covers, there’s no full-proof way to avoid spills and messes on your furniture. It’s best to be prepared and know how to clean your couch at a moment’s notice.
Before you start to clean your couch make sure you check the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions, which can usually be found on the tag. Your couch’s tag can answer a lot of questions for you. Typically, the tag will have one of four different letters on it.
W — Code W means you can clean this material using water. To err on the side of safety, you should still use as minimal water as possible and never overwet your upholstery.
S — Code S means you’ll need to purchase a special solvent-based cleaner. No water can be used on furniture with this label. Solvents are waterless cleaning agents that will not cause damage, unlike water. Using water for this code can lead to fabric shrinking, water ring stains, and ruin fabric dyes.
WS — Code WS means you can use water or a solvent-based cleaner on this sofa. Although it seems like this upholstery is the easiest to clean, this label can actually make it trickier. It’s important to note that you should still test a small area on the upholstery before using one method over the other. Most recommend calling a professional upholstery cleaner to ensure a trusted clean for your investment.
X — refers to furniture that cannot be cleaned by water, solvent-based or foam cleaning agents. This type of upholstery is extremely delicate and cleaning can damage cushions, cause shrinking, ruin fabric dyes, or destroy the backing. For this upholstery, vacuum only.
If you can’t locate a tag or are unsure of which code your upholstery has, contact the manufacturer who can identify the proper cleaning agents to apply. Otherwise, test a small, unseen spot on the fabric before applying all over.
Most fabric couches are Code X which means you have to be extra careful with how you maintain and clean it. Check out these trusted instructions on how to clean fabric couches:
Gently Brush – Using a gentle brush, lightly brush off dust and dander from the couch. This also helps loosen up any hair or debris for easier vacuuming.
Vacuum Up – Vacuum all of the excess and leftover debris from the upholstery!
Be Cautious of Baking Soda – A lot of DIY blogs recommend using baking soda on upholstery as a deodorizer. However, it’s important to note that different fabrics react differently to moisture and various levels of pH — acids or alkaline. The biggest concern with baking soda is that it has a pH of around 9 which could lead to cellulosic browning on natural fiber fabrics such as cotton, linen, rayon, and more. If you still plan to use it on your upholstery, be cautious and always pretest on an inconspicuous part of your couch. Quickly dry the area with a hairdryer to determine the results.
Call the Experts – As you can tell, cleaning upholstery is not as black and white as it may seem. On trickier fabrics, call on our professional upholstery technicians who have the knowledge and expertise to analyze the proper cleaning method — even for code X. We always spot test fabric to ensure a cleaning method is safe and will not cause damage.