How to remove upholstery cleaning confusion
Cleaners who clean installed carpet often hesitate to clean upholstery.
Likewise, cleaning business owners allow unsupervised technicians to clean carpet more readily than upholstery. Why?
Upholstery is riskier to clean. While products, tools and techniques have improved, the fabrics remain challenging.
Upholstery cleaning never will be as simple
as carpet cleaning, but there are steps to minimize the mystery, confusion and fear that many cleaners experience.
Upholstery is constructed differently than carpet.
As the late CM/Cleanfax ® contributor Buzz Cohen used to say: "It is a difference of denier, depth and density."
Upholstery fibers often are smaller in denier than carpet fibers, meaning fibers are thinner and easily damaged by abrasion.
The depth is related to fabric thickness.
Simply put, most upholstery fabric is about as thick as
a shirt sleeve. Finally, differences in yarn density means upholstery fabrics are generally less compact than carpet.
All these differences mean that regardless of fiber type, upholstery fabrics are more easily damaged, soiled and over-wet than carpet.
With an infinite variety of design and structure to complicate cleaning, problem upholstery fabrics still may be broken into four categories:
White natural-fiber fabrics - These are undyed, natural-fiber fabrics, especially unbleached, poorly ginned cotton, and linen. They will brown if not carefully cleaned using mild detergents and rapid drying.
Pile fabrics - Velvet, corduroy and sculptured weaves have face yarns that create a nap. Natural fiber face yarns must be carefully cleaned and groomed, then groomed again after all cleaning is completed.
. Surface designs - Polished cotton, moire and prints are surface designs that may be removed by abrasion, body oils and perspiration. In rare cases, cleaning alone may remove these surface designs. Furniture with surface-applied finishes and patterns should be carefully inspected. The customer must be warned that damage may not be noticeable until after soil has been removed.
Jacquard weaves - These are complex weaves creating multicolored patterns. The dyes used may be unstable, reacting to detergents. Special dye-stabilizing processes should be used to prevent color bleeding. The decorative effect created with "floating" satin yarns are susceptible to abrasion and color bleeding.
Upholstery cleaning shouldn't begin until you understand the delicacy of upholstery construction, test the fiber family and color-fastness, and determine if the fabric belongs to a "problem category."
Cleaning upholstery requires using appropriate tools and products, determining how long it should take, and what to charge. Once the unique upholstery cleaning process is understood, confusion, fear and frustration will diminish.
Attend an upholstery cleaning class, or purchase a manual or video on the subject. With study and practice, upholstery cleaning can become a rewarding, if challenging, part of the cleaning business.