During my long career in the furniture business i’ve been asked, “what is the proper way to care for my fabric? ” in the end, you’ve purchased your dream furniture piece but you’re scared to use it out of fear of damaging it. However, you don’t have to reside in fear! After extensive research and testing i have found the following guidelines and suggestions to be helpful.
Due to the vast array of fabrics and fiber combinations, there is not any guarantee that these approaches will be completely successful and i recommend that a professional upholstery cleaner be contacted in particular cases. However, these simple solutions will keep your new upholstery crisp and clean for years!
*vacuum at least once a week to remove grit that can lead to abrasion, and be sure to dust vacuum the top surfaces as often as possible. Professional cleaning is the best way to make a slightly soiled sofa look new again, but weekly vacuuming will make professional cleaning a less frequent event. (never brush any fabric with a stiff fiber or metal brush, as they’re destructive to the fibers. Rather, use your vacuum attachments like the upholstery brush or the attachment for dusting draperies and furniture. The latter brush has longer bristles and is less abrasive to your upholstery fabric. It can be your very best option if your fabric deserves a softer brushing. )
*reverse the cushions each week after vacuuming. Rearrange the furniture occasionally to ensure even wear of the cushions and other locations.
Cushions and pillows filled with down or similar cushioning material should be hand-fluffed and reversed regularly to retain their original softness and resiliency.
*protect fabrics from the sun. Fabrics should not be placed in direct sunlight because the ultraviolet light will cause the fibers to degenerate and colors to fade. Occasionally dyes can fade from impurities in the air also, but protection from the sun is a great way to prevent premature loss of colour.
*keep pets off the furniture. Pet urine and pet body oil can be difficult to remove.
*use proper care with structural weave fabrics (where the design is created by the weave) to protect against snags. These fabrics may be cleaned by sprinkling dry powder cleaner over the fabric, spreading it uniformly and letting it stand for the recommended period before vacuuming with gentle suction. (however, i do recommend expert cleaning with stains on a woven cloth. )
*caution those wearing clothing with transferable dyes, such as blue jeans, that the dye could transfer onto light colored furniture.
Fabric cleaning guide
Today’s new fabric treatments improve the odds of your fabric’s survival. Fabric protection products are usually applied by the retail store for an extra price. Most of the various brands work the same manner by causing spills and dirt to sit on the surface of the fiber rather than migrating to the fiber’s interior.
Now ‘s fiber protection products are free of ozone damaging chemicals, and most are hypoallergenic and invisible to the eye. Some even provide additional uv protection from color fading caused by intense light. One of the greatest benefits of fabric protection products is they come with specific written warranties that provide peace of mind.
Whether your new upholstery has been fabric protected or not, you should follow the exact same basic guidelines in cleaning liquid spills or surface soil that could ‘t be brushed off (such as newspaper ink).
Fabric cleaning codes
Before trying to clean a spill or spot on your furniture, you should identify the fabric and the correct cleaning method recommended by the manufacturer. This information is represented by a cleaning code (w, s, ws, or x) often found under a pillow, to the base of the furniture or on the manufacturer’s tag. If you can’t locate this advice, contact your salesperson at the furniture store where the item was purchased.
W — spot clean only with water-based shampoo or foam upholstery cleaner.
S — spot clean only with water-free cleaning solvent. Don’t overwet. Do not use water.
Ws — spot clean with upholstery shampoo, foam from a mild detergent, or a mild dry cleaning solvent. Do not overwet.
X — clean only by vacuuming or light brushing with a non-metallic brush. Do not use water or dry cleaning solvents. Do not use a foam or liquid cleaner of any kind.
Never apply cleaning solutions to visible regions of your upholstery fabric without first testing on areas that aren’t visible. It’s important to pretest for color loss and fabric compatibility.
As a general rule, when a spill happens, it’s important to clean the fabric immediately. The longer a spot remains, the harder it is to remove. It may even become permanent.
Blot, don’t rub. If the spill is still “fresh”, use a clean, dry and very absorbent 100% cotton cloth. In the event you have to use paper towels to blot out spills, be sure the paper towel (or cloth) is white, as colors in the towel may, when applied to a wet surface, fade onto the upholstery. Color from 1 fabric can rub off onto another fabric, even when dry — a process known in the business since “crocking”.
If blotting with a dry cloth doesn’t really finish the job and you have cleaning directions from the furniture manufacturer, follow those. If none are available, use the instructions provided here.
I hope this information was enlightening. Use these tools when needed, but most importantly, enjoy your upholstered bit — it was intended to be utilized!
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