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How to Clean Upholstery

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Professional cleaning is typically the only method recommended for complete cleaning of furniture. It may seem expensive, but consider that it is far less costly than replacing the damaged fabric if the cleaning results are bad. Of course, the decision to do it yourself or hire a professional is a judgment call. Small cushion covers and slipcovers can be taken to the dry cleaners.

Some fabrics, (even S coded) can be successfully cleaned with do it yourself methods, but this assumes you are willing to take responsibility for the results. If you attempt to clean it yourself, make sure you know the specific cleaning code for your upholstery fabric. Have these supplies on hand for emergency spot cleaning- promptness is important!  No one product removes all stains. Rather, experts say you should try to match the product to the stain –which is not always possible if you don’t know the source.  For all methods, the goal is to lift the stain by blotting, not spread it by rubbing. Even with these recommended cleaners, be cautious & test the results on a hidden area, or a remnant of your fabric before proceeding. “Do it yourself” furniture cleaning methods include spray on, or sprinkle on powdered absorbent products, which can be vacuumed off.  Machine steam cleaning may be an option, depending on your fabric.  Be cautious, as shrinkage, texture change and color bleeding can occur for example Use a professional product that is ph balanced and colorfast for best results. These are available from KJ’s.

If your furniture is not coded, assume it is dry clean only.  Feel the fabric. If it's smooth and almost silky, it's most likely dry-clean only coded. These fabrics are often more decorative (formal), and have a bit of a sheen to them. If it feels more rough or plush (such as the fabric on a car seat), there's a good chance it's steam cleanable. Test an inconspicuous area with a little water, then wait till it’s completely dry. Better yet, give it a few hours to be extra cautious. Most dry-clean fabrics tend to be non-absorbent and will repel or bead water. Applying moisture to a dry-clean fabric may cause shrinkage, color loss or bleeding, and/or water stains (yellow/brown rings, such as when a kid wets the bed. All rings from liquid are called water stains). Water stains are almost always permanent. If you see previous water staining on the upholstery already, there's a good chance it's dry-clean. DO NOT APPLY MOISTURE. Water stains may appear in a couple minutes or even a couple hours on a dry-clean fabric.

Special cautions: Natural, White and Off-White upholstery fabrics generally require dry cleaning.  Never attempt to clean a spot or clean using water.  Water could cause yellowing, brown water rings and color run. Cotton velvets, satin, and some leathers may water spot. Rayon fibers weaken when wet and may stretch and shrink. Rayon is very weak when wet and is likely to shrink.  Rayon is an alkaline fabric, and acidic detergents can harm the fabric Most all-purpose detergents will be fine to use, or a liquid castile soap. Don’t spot clean rayon with acidic vinegar.

*Cleanability Code W-Test in a non conspicuous spot first!  Spot clean, using the foam only from a water-based cleaning agent. Don't over-wet the fabric. Let the foam of the solution do most of the work Apply a gentle circular motion, blotting frequently. Work from the outer edge to the center of the spot to help prevent rings. Rinse the fabric with a clean sponge and clean water. Vacuum when dry.
To do a thorough cleaning, home steam cleaning MAY be an option.

*Cleanability Code S - Fabric Care: Spot clean, using a water-free solvent or dry-cleaning product. Carefully follow instructions on such products. Pretest a small area before proceeding. (CAUTION: These fabrics are not recommended for use of water-based or detergent-based cleaners as it may cause excessive shrinkage. Also, water stains may become permanent and unable to be removed). If you have this type of fabric KJ’s emphasizes preventative maintenance- frequent vacuuming. A complete upholstery cleaning  involve a professional, or hours of work if you do it yourself.

Cleanability Code W-S Fabric Care: Spot clean this fabric with either a solvent or water based product, such as an upholstery shampoo product or the foam from a mild detergent. With either method, pretest a small area before proceeding. Professional products are available at KJ’s.

Cleanability Code X
- Fabric Care: Clean this fabric only by vacuuming or light brushing to prevent accumulation of dust or grime. Water-based foam or solvent-based cleaning agents of any kind may cause excessive shrinking, fading or possible pile distortion.

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