Upholstery cleaning, contrary to popular belief, does not require fancy steam cleaning equipment connected to a truck. You can make your upholstery look clean and smell fresh with or without machinery. The cleaning technicians at Elegant Cleaning Services based in Nutley, New Jersey, explained to us how anyone can clean upholstery at home with professional results.
Choosing the Right Method
Upholstery cleaning is broken into two distinct groups: dry cleaning and wet cleaning. Dry cleaning uses solvent-based cleaning solutions whereas wet cleaning uses water-based chemicals. Deciding which to use is as easy as checking the care label found under the cushions of most furniture.
The instructions will specify one of the following codes: S, W, or SW. S is for solvent cleaning; W means water-based cleaning; and SW indicates either water- or solvent-based cleaners are safe for the fabric. In the absence of a care tag, test a cleaning solution in an inconspicuous part of the upholstery. Check for colour loss and fabric shrinkage. If still unsure, consult a professional.
Wet Cleaning Method: Steam Extraction
Steam extraction, also known as hot water extraction, is easy to perform if a machine is available. Attach the upholstery wand to the machine and add the recommended cleaning solution. Remove loose cushions from the upholstery, set aside for later cleaning. Place a clean towel on the base of the upholstery to catch drips. Apply the wand to the fabric; while pulling the wand toward yourself, press the trigger to release cleaning solution. Repeat as necessary. When a small section is completed, take several dry passes over the upholstery to extract excess moisture. Continue with each cushion.
Wet Cleaning Method: Hand Shampoo
For hand shampooing, a bucket, sponge, several white terry cloth towels and upholstery shampoo are necessary. All can be purchased at a home improvement store. Make sure to purchase shampoo that states it is suitable for hand-shampooing upholstery, without any machinery.
Mix the shampoo according to the manufacturer's instructions. With a sponge, agitate the mixture. Wring out the sponge and scoop a fair amount of suds. As above, start with the body of the upholstery. Apply the suds to the fabric in a circular motion. Once a section is completed, blot with a clean terry cloth towel. Gentle agitation is fine, but avoid rubbing the fabric as this might damage the upholstery. Repeat as necessary.
Dry cleaning is similar to hand shampooing; however, solvents do not form suds. Therefore, dip the sponge into the solution; wring out; apply to upholstery in circular motions. Continue in the same manner as hand shampooing. Make sure to blot with clean towels.
When using solvents, make sure the work area is well ventilated and free of any open flames as most solvents are flammable.