Let us cover some up front problems with upholstery cleaning. First, there are no standards for the manufacture of upholstered items. By that, I mean that there is more information on a $10.00 shirt from Wal-Mart then on a $2000.00 Sofa. At present, there are no government standards of fiber content. The tag you see on the decking (that is what the cushions sit on) is specific to the materials used under the fabric namely, the batting, ticking, and cushion materials. On some items, you will find a consumer ‘information tag’ that may have cleaning codes. I will get to the codes in a minute but, it is very common for us to take in two pieces (say a sofa and love seat) with identical fabric and identical structure, bought in the same store at the same time and they have different cleaning codes.
If we ‘solvent clean’ one and ‘wet clean’ the other, the results can be and usually are significantly different. If we clean as the cleaning code indicates, we are covering ourselves. The manufacturer cannot come back to us and say, “You voided the warranty”. On the other hand, the consumer is paying us to clean an item. Regardless of the fabric, the soil is the deciding factor in getting an item cleaned. We often ‘wet clean’ things that say ‘dry clean only’. If you are dealing with food or beverage spills or body oils (both hand and hair) or pets that love to rub up against the furniture, then you are dealing with water-soluble soils that will only respond with wet agents. Of course, that is not the manufacturers concern. His concerns focus on what will not affect his fabric.
Typical Upholstery Cleaning Codes
S is for dry clean only. This means no water. W is for wet clean. This means no solvents. S-W is for dry or wet methods of cleaning X stands for vacuum only. No cleaning agents are used.
Let us touch on the cleaning methods as we did for carpet cleaning. I know that here we actually do have dry cleaning. Again we have ‘wet’ methods, ‘dry’ (most are low moisture) methods and actual ‘dry’ methods (absence of water and using solvents).
Upholstery Cleaning Methods
Dry solvent method – this is primarily used on delicate or non-colorfast fabrics that damage easily by water-based methods. It is safe on almost all fabrics and dyes but may damage adhesives used on the back of fabrics. Dry cleaning solvents are hazardous chemicals, which is why we will not use them in homes. It takes about 16 hours for the solvent to off-gas or evaporate out of fabric.
Absorbent Compound Method – is minimal moisture that classifies as dry cleaning. This involves treating the granular powder with cleaning agents and then sprinkling on the fabric which is brushed uniformly over the fabric to suspend soils and dries in about a half hour. A dry vacuum is necessary to remove the soil that was absorbed into the compound.
Dry Foam Method – dense foam made by machine and distributed over the fabric with a brush. Suspended in foam, the soils then extracted using a wet vacuum.
Shampoo Method– a foaming cleaning agent applied to the fabric using sprayers, sponges or brushes. Suspended soils then extracted using a wet vacuum. While the dry foam and shampoo methods are similar, the shampoo is wetter than the dense foam.
Water Extraction– a cleaning solution injected into or flows across the fabric. Suspended soils then removed by the flushing action and vacuuming with a wet vacuum. This method usually give the best results but used only on fabrics whose fibers, dyes and composition are not adversely affected by water or water-based cleaners. We can often clean on location but upholstery that requires solvent cleaning, or has delicate fabric or is very heavily soiled are brought in to our plant for cleaning. In the home, we are limited to a one-time cleaning but, at our shop, we may clean something several times to make sure it is as clean as possible. Often times knowing how to correct problems is our strong advantage. I cannot tell you how many cleaners have bought upholstery to us because they thought they ruined it. Many times these “ruined” items are easily fixed and it actually comes down to education.
For more information on Upholstery Services offered in and around Austin, TX please contact and expert at Austonian Rug Cleaning Co. today!
We specialize in cleaning tribal, village or cottage and workshop rugs from around the world including Persian, Turkish, Caucasian, Turkestan, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Chinese, Tibet, Nepal, Moroccan, Egyptian, Belgium, Navajo and many more. For many years now we have been serving the needs of quality conscious clients in and around the Austin area, and even nationally. Our meticulous services are specifically designed for people who truly care about their fine furnishings.