Upholstery cleaning requires a unique skill set. Cleaning techs need to be familiar with a range of fabrics that can either make the cleaning job easy or difficult.
The other day at a job I saw some new crewel fabric samples. I didn’t even think they made the stuff any more. My point here is at some level a cleaning technician must be aware of the potential problems fabrics represent. He must be able to identify these fibers by feel (I know all about the burn test as a way to ID fibers) or by visual cues. Spending time at a fabric store is invaluable for a cleaning technician because he will become familiar with the fabric types. Some require special handling. Like silk.
Some important questions any cleaning technician should be asking before he starts the job:
- Have you ever had it cleaned before? This is the most important question of all. If you have had it cleaned, and it wasn’t damaged, then we know it can be safely cleaned.
- If it was cleaned, how did they clean it? If you had it cleaned with a truck-mounted carpet cleaning machine or a portable carpet-cleaning machine that doubles as upholstery cleaner, then that furniture should be able to survive anything. Count yourself lucky in this. This type of cleaning can damage even slightly delicate fabrics.
- Was this chair recovered? If it was, did the upholstery company remove the old fabric? If not and it is moisture sensitive, this can have a bearing on the cleaning outcome.
- How much did the furniture cost? This is important because when a customer tells the technician an eight-foot sofa cost $12k, we know at that point silk may be involved.
These are just a few factors that should be handled during the inspection process. The nature of the soil should be noted and a strategy developed for removing it. Some factors that effect the process:
- The arms and cushions are the central wear areas on most upholstered furniture. Often the goal is to match these areas with the low wear areas on the back and sides.
- Is a pet involved? This will often involve pet hair that must be removed. Pets also are fond of rubbing against the low front and sides, depositing oily residues that must be removed.
- Are there spots that look to be solvent soluble, like ink and lipstick? Most soils are water-soluble and are removed with water based surfactants.
- Will the piece require dry cleaning? This is rare, but sometimes necessary. We have the ability to dry clean using heated dry solvents, but almost never need to do this. But there are fabrics (see the crewel I mentioned above) that tolerate no water.
To learn more about how we clean furniture, please visit our fabric and upholstery cleaning page
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