Upholstery Cleaning

Upholstery & Fine Fabric Cleaning- A Bit To Think About Before You Clean

Why do People invest good money for fine furnishings they cherish, yet do little or nothing to care of them?
Not cleaning fabrics that you sit, lay on, sweat on, drip on, spill on, drool on & even worse, is like sleeping on sheets that never get washed.

How dirty do your fabrics really get?

Fabrics cling on to dust, dirt & pollen, absorb oils & body fluids, smoke, exhaust, pesticides & fertilizer, and a ton of other cancer causing compounds, really well. Just take a broom & bang a pillow, the dust will make you choke. It will gross you out and can easily make you & your loved ones sick!

Treat You Fine Fabrics  Fine Clothing

Fine fabric should be handled delicately to preserve them. Just as you would not put fine woolens, suits or dresses in the washer or dryer, you should not let haphazard cleaning threaten the fabrics in your home.  Entrust them only to skilled-certified professionals, who will hand shampoo & gently extract them.  Delicate cleaning preserves the fabric’s integrity. Most fabrics, like the following respond well with a watchful eye:

  • Cotton & Blends
  • Synthetics
  • Velvets & Velours
  • Corduroy
  • Jacquards
  • Micro Fiber
  • Chintz
  • Some Haitians
  • Polished Cotton
  • Wool
  • Other Fabrics & Delicates Upon Inspection

What You Will See With Your Cleaning- The fabric will be inspected and tested for tolerance of the cleaning.  Dry Soils will be removed. If the fabric is sturdy it will be hand shampooed and delicately extracted using a highly specialized “Dry Tool”. All surfaces, sides, pleats, piping, cushions & deck will be cleaned.  Delicate Fabrics will be handled with Non Aggressive Neutral-PH Cleaners.  Optional Protectants available & encouraged.  Fabrics will be groomed or brushed.  Cushions & Pillows will be placed to allow air flow for optimal drying.

The Upholstery Inspection

Upon arrival your technician will inspect the item before cleaning.  We will inspect for damaged areas, loose, broken, cracked components.  We will observe tears, pulls worn areas, broken zippers, etc.  We will look closely at the fabric & the soiling, spills, bleach spots & stains.  We will observe difficult problems like urine, blood, rust etc.  The result is we will give you an assessment of the piece & the cleanability.  If there is a volatile situation we will advise you accordingly.  We will recommend not cleaning something if it is too risky or too far gone.  If we do not believe the cleaning is worthwhile we will not proceed unless you indicate there is a strong reason and together we understand the potential outcome is worth the time & investment.

Confusion About The Cleaning Codes

Be aware that the labels under the cushions are considered unreliable by the Professional Cleaning Industry.  First off there is no standardization for the codes.  Generally the Mfg affixes them to caution you from damaging the fabric.  Also, much of what the label identifies is often the cushion information, totally useless for cleaning purposes.  Certified Upholstery Cleaners are schooled, trained & certified in fiber identification & cleanability.  They will determine what whether something is a “W” Code-  Water Cleanable, “WS” Code- Water or Solvent Cleanable, or strictly “S” Code-Solvent Cleanable Only.  When possible you will get a clean, more sanitized result when it is wet cleanable.  Also, a water cleanable process is more environmentally friendly, leaving less chemical residues not to mention nasty solvent fumes in your home.  Should it be deemed that it be solvent cleanable only we will advise you with special instructions that will not be harmful in your home.  Just to be reassured, the later option does not happen that often.

About Delicates

Some fabrics are very volatile and can be either a challange or perhaps impossible to clean.  The whitest of whites, natural cottons or haitian cottons that have flecks of the cotton seed pod inherent in the fiber are such examples.  Another difficulty would be white cotton fabric with black or red flowers.  Stark contrasting bold fabrics, especially in natural fibers are dicey.  Silks, etc.  While most fabrics tolerate the shampoo & extraction procedures, some require a dry method.   Your technician will advise you when there is a concern about the cleaning.  In some cases dry cleaning would be recommended.

A word of caution is, that if you expect heavy use, if you entertain & have food & beverage exposed to the upholstery, if you have small kids & pets try to get sturdier fabrics.  If you choose a delicate you run the risk of ruin if you are too hard on the piece for what it was meant to tolerate.

Can We Clean Woolen Upholstery?

Yes, it can be cleaned effectively.  From the get go though, wool & natural fibers in general are more susceptible to stainage, and are more delicate to clean.  As far as whether they are wet cleanable, the answer for both is yes.  — Just so you know, sheep don’t get damaged when it rains!  The trick is wools & cottons behave differently with cleaning.  With wool you must clean at a cooler temperature & lower pH.  Cotton you must be concerned about overwetting.  It cannot be stressed enough


Confusion About Cleaning Upholstery Vs Carpet

It takes merely minutes to clean average size room of carpet.  You can “blast it” with hi pH cleaners, hi temperatures, strong psi water pressure & extract with strong suction.  Carpet is virtually indestructible when subjected to proper cleaning.  Not so with upholstery.  Fabric must be tested for pH tolerance, for water tolerance.  Fabrics at best should be gently shampooed & misted, the heat should be adjusted & the suction turned down.  The technician needs experience & knows how to modify the techniques to protect & preserve the fabrics.  For instance, some need to be groomed after cleaning to soften a texture change.  Some should not be cleaned against the grain.  Some may be predisposed to bleed.  Some can be spot cleaned, some cannot.

How Long It Takes To Clean Upholstery & What Can Happen

Because Upholstery is much more labor intensive (as explained above), it takes much longer to clean upholstery than carpet.  The average size Sofa takes an hour, a Love Seat 45 minutes, a ReclinerRecliner Chair 30-45 minutes, a Sectional an hour & a half to 2 hours or more (depending on how big it is).  Here’s the problem- people don’t realize how labor intensive upholstery cleaning is, and they don’t realize how fine fabric cleaning has some volatility to it.

Whenever a professional upholstery cleaner is commissioned to clean they realize there are some unknowns with the integrity of the piece.  As many as 30 different companies may have been involved in the production of the piece, which can expose the piece to issues. Fabrics are dyed in a variety of ways, with both natural & synthetic dyes, which can be stable or unstable. Certain textures & notions can react.  Unless a cleaner is trained, certified, skilled, experienced & equipped to deal with fabrics safely, they have absolutely no business touching them.

The Problem With Consumer Expectation & Upholstery Cleaning

Consumers are fooled by misleading & false advertising designed so they “take the bait”.  Coupons & advertising often quote upholstery pricing Sofa’s $49.99, $39 or even less.  Chairs- $29 are subliminally embedded in their mind as they toss the advertising in the “round file”.  Then when they decide to get their upholstery cleaned they are blind sided with the real cost to clean when that price is quoted by a real professional.

What Should You Expect To Pay & Why

When commissioning someone to clean you should avoid cheap pricing like the plague.  You should trust your cherished fabrics to a professional who will take their time to clean it properly, effectively and in a manner that is controlled.  Otherwise the consequences could be disastrous.

As you read all about upholstery cleaning it should become clear to you that you will want to pay for a competent & effective cleaning.  Forget the ridiculous pricing you see in the advertising.  Prepare to pay for competency, it is in your best interests.

Can Parts of Upholstery Be Cleaned- Yes At A Savings!

The answer often is yes.  In some cases, no.  As a budgetary alternative we offer cushion cleaning, back & side cleaning when the fabric will tolerate it.  For instance, take a sectional (the one pictured about would take hours to clean). Often it is only 1 part of the sectional that gets used, or perhaps it is against the wall.  We can discount our fee down to clean say the front cushions, backing, sides & skirt.  That is where the soiling usually occurs, so we are happy to pass a savings along- get the part that needs it, not necessary to do the rest.  Other times we do just the cushions, just the back rest, just the arms.  The technician will advise you when the fabric will not tolerate partial cleaning.

What Happens When You Have An Accidental Spill?

Couple key things will help, first blot up what you can.  Place white terry towels or paper towels with something heavy over the spill.  If it is blood or urine blot the excess up, take a white terry towel or white paper towel, get it wet & place over the spot.  Do not do that procedure if the fabric is silk. Cover with a clean, unused & unfolded trash liner & call me.  Rule of thumb, the hotter the liquid spilled the deeper it goes & the better the chances of staining.  Also, the higher the acidity of what is spilled also increases stainability. The faster we get there the better off.  Also, don’t attempt spotting with stuff you have, or stuff such as hydrogen peroxide, bleach or ammonia.  These chemicals may set the stain, make the fabric bleed, bleach the stain, cause the fabric to disintegrate.  Once you start trying stuff, then call us & we bring our spotting kit in you start altering the original chemistry thereby decreasing chances of success.  In many instances it is just not worth it.  Call the professionals

The Bottom Line

Be prepared to pay a little extra for careful handling while cleaning. You want the fabrics cleaned carefully. The cheapy cleanys’ may cause shrinkage, bleeding, fabric distortion, water marking, texture change or marring of the fabrics, that is not worth risking.  It’s insane to have furniture you absolutely love & never clean it, and equally insane to hire a cheap cleaner who shouldn’t even put one finger on it & who could care less if it gets damaged.


A word of caution is, that if you expect heavy use, if you entertain & have food & beverage exposed to the upholstery, if you have small kids & pets try to get sturdier fabrics.  If you choose a delicate you run the risk of ruin if you are too hard on the piece for what it was meant to tolerate.

A Reality Check About Urine Contaminated Upholstery

From the Get Go anytime urine (pet or human) comes in contact with upholstery you have a damaged piece.  Depending on quantity, the location & whether it is an isolated accident or repetitive behavior at best you have a damaged piece that a professional can attempt to correct.  Our role in this instance is- DAMAGE CONTROL.

We are dealing with  the Urine Spot or Stain, perhaps the urine odor, and definately the unsanitary condition of the urine.  We may be able to reverse all, some or none.

If the urine smells you must understand that the fabric can be the culprit, but so can the cushion or other parts of the piece that we can not disassemble to get to the area that smells.  Therefore, when you have this problem we will do our best, but you could face replacing of the cushions affected, or you could have a problem that is beyond repair.  Countless times we are asked to clean the piece despite advising that it may not come out.  Then the customer is upset when it does not come out.  This is like treating something topically that needs surgery- it simply won’t work.

In the end we hope you will take our professional recommendations and be aware that when we advise against cleaning or advise a more involved solution it is to protect your furnishing, your investment & your money.  Unfortunately, as with fine clothing or laundry some things just will not clean out.