Upholstery cleaning can be a very complicated task. It is more involved than carpet cleaning and should not be attempted by consumers. For anything other than spot cleaning, you should call a professional upholstery cleaner to do the work. Here is a brief overview of what is involved in upholstery cleaning.
This is the most important part of upholstery cleaning and one of the chief reasons that consumers should not attempt their own upholstery cleaning. Every different type of fiber responds to cleaning differently and must be handled carefully. Cotton is cleaned differently from rayon which is treated different than acrylic which is cleaned different from silk, etc, etc, etc. Your fabric might contain several different types of fibers. You might have a combination of cotton and polyester threads or cotton and rayon. Every thread in a fabric must be tested to determine what types of fibers are present.
The fabric should be tested for stability of the dye before upholstery cleaning. Your technician should test the cleaner that they will be using on a hidden area of the fabric. Every different color should be checked. If the dye bleeds or transfers to the test cloth, special procedures must be used. The technician can use a dye lock chemical which will keep it from bleeding or they might switch to a less aggressive chemical. In the worst cases, the fabric might not be cleanable.
The construction of your upholstery’s fabric must be taken into account. If it is delicate, then the upholstery cleaning technician must be gentle with it. If it has different colored threads running underneath the fiber then it must be handled carefully. If it is velvet, it must be brushed after cleaning. If it is a sturdy fiber, the technician can be more aggressive with the cleaning.
The upholstery cleaning technician should also unzip the cushions and look behind the fabric. Sometimes during assembly, furniture manufacturers will use a grease pen to mark the fabric. This can bleed through if cleaned. These marks can not always be seen but an attempt should be made to look for them.
Upholstery Cleaning Codes
You might notice that a tag with a cleaning code is attached to your furniture. These codes are seldom correct. It is not uncommon to have three pieces of upholstery in the room made of the same fabric and each of these pieces will have a different cleaning code on it. These stickers are often just slapped on upholstery and should not be used by your technician to determine a cleaning method.
The codes you might see on your upholstery are S (Dry Clean Only) , W (Wet Clean) , SW (Low Moisture Cleaning) and X (Vacuum Only).