Nothing is worse then suddenly spilling something on a beautiful sofa or other upholstery or finding a new stain that wasn’t there before. The immediate reaction is to take quick action. Extreme caution is paramount since many upholstery fabrics are delicate and can react to the wrong cleaning agent or aggressive stain removal. The main thing is to avoid making matters worse. For a significant spill, gently blotting the spill inward is a good start to prevent it from spreading. For small stains, it becomes a matter of what’s best to remove the stain. Generally, you should contact an professional upholstery cleaner because many materials are sensitive to certain types of cleaning agents which can cause more damage. Upholstery cleaning typically requires skill, professional equipment and the right cleaning agents.
Typically a cleaning tag is placed on the upholstery frame below the cushion. These tags list codes that provide cleaning information. Some examples are:
W use water based cleaning agents
S use solvent based cleaning agents
X don’t clean with either water or solvent-based agents. Vacuum or brush
This is an over-simplification of how to approach upholstery cleaning and is merely a guide relating to the type of fabric. It applies more to the consumer than to a professional cleaning company. Water based cleaning products are the most commonly used, but some are far too strong and can remove color. These are often used for small stains and should be used minimally to avoid creating water stains or additional damage. Large stains or spills should be handled professionally.
Solvent based agents tend to leave an oily residue and a professional cleaner who uses them will also extract them with the proper equipment afterwards.
Some materials such as velvet will display an S code meaning solvents are recommended because the material easily distorts. However, a professional will typically use water based cleaning agents and carefully brush and groom afterwards.
Red wine stains and other difficult stains should not be attempted by a consumer as they need to be carefully neutralized and the cleaning process is often tedious. Sensitive materials require the process to be precise and repetitive to completely remove the stains. We use a combination of cleaning agents and specialty products to accomplish this.
Of critical importance, rubbing the material repeatedly is not advisable as it often results in permanent texture damage.
In terms of what types of fabrics clean easily, microfiber materials such as ultrasuede are great for households with children and pets as they repel stains better than most. Often a small amount of water, which is neutral, can be gently applied to a minor stain and is highly effective. Also, as a general rule, textured materials are easier to clean than thin, flat material. Flat materials tend to become over-wet more easily and develop water stains. Hence cleaning by a consumer is not risk free. Many companies will claim that water rings are permanent, but we’ve had great success at treating and removing them.