Cleaning upholstery suites or sofas can be a more challenging process than the cleaning of carpets. Fabric upholstery tends have a more unique blend of fibres compared to a carpet fibre construction. Their also tends to be more natural fibres found in a sofa, therefore greater care needs to be taken in the cleaning process. Well before we start cleaning we need to identify the fabric content. This is to give us more information on problems that may occur by cleaning the upholstery and to see if the suite is safe to clean in the first place. In most cases their is a label under one of the main cushions or even under the entire sofa. The problem though is most of these labels are just generic and don't give any specific detail on the fabric content and another thing we have found is that even if their are details on what types of fibre are present, they can be wrong anyway after we test them. Sometimes if you are lucky there can be a swatch sample with the label present, which is ideal for testing on, but if not their are other ways to test the cloth, but first i will tell you why you need to test before cleaning. First of all i will not go into great detail about all the types of material and all the problems you can get with cleaning them as i could literally be still writing this peice for a few days, but what i will do is break it down into to a simple process so you can clean safely. When you first look at the furniture you need to do what is called a burn test. If there is a sample swatch, then great, cut a few fibres off to test. If there is no sample to test on you can unzip a cushion and take a few strands to test from inside, remember to make sure you have a strand of each colour. Bring a strand slowly to a lighter and if they melt and turn into a hard ball they are man-made fibres. If they turn to ash when you rub it between your fingers then they are natural, ie cotton ect. Acrylic tends to give off a lot of black smoke. Also if their is a smell of burnt hair/wool then that is a sign of natural content. You very rarely get a 100% man-made suite or chair, but normally a blend of both natural and man-made cloth. If you have a high content of natural fabric and there are a few colours present especially bright colours like reds ect then you must do a colour run test. Spray some of your pre-spray ( we use micro-splitters for upholstery ) on the sample or under a inconspicuous area under a cushion and put a white terry towel down over it with a weight on top for a good ten minutes. When it's ready check it for clolour run and make sure you have tested every colour present. If their is no colour run present great carry on with the clean, but please still be cautious if you are cleaning a natural content cream/white ( especially 100% cotton ) sofa, as they can turn brown ( browning )from over wetting, you can also get problems with water marks from over wetting or inconsistent cleaning. Please make sure you add a acid rinse ( Fabric & Fibre rinse ) to the water solution tank to help with bringing the PH down from the pre-spray and spotters. This helps to prevent browning and or colour run.
Problems to look out for -
If you have a natural fibre cream suite with for example red flowers which are also of natural content, then treat this with great care and test, test and test some more. Also look out for beading ect. If you have a cream natural sofa with coloured flowers that are man-made then you should be ok, it's all common sense, but like i said, make sure you test.
Other things to mention are if there is a knap to the fabric then you must wipe this in the correct direction with a cloth before it dries. On faux suede suits don't use solvent based stain removers as this can de-laminate the plastic backing. Make sure you use the correct spotting brush for upholstery, you need to use a tampico brush and a airmover is handy to speed up the drying process.
Their is loads more information i could give you on this type of cleaning, but it would become very long winded and i think their is enough here to help out any new starters to the industry. I will go into more detail with regards to upholstery cleaning in the future.