Steam Cleaning Upholstered Furniture
Steam cleaners remove stains, imbedded dirt
and odors from most upholstered furniture, and at the right temperature, they
can also disinfect sofas, chairs and ottomans. A steam cleaner relies on hot
water rather than chemicals or scented shampoos, making it ideal for a wide
range of fabrics and for people sensitive to fragrance. Don’t steam-clean
upholstery that is sensitive to water, including leather, and always check the
furniture’s care tag for specific cleaning recommendations.
Get the Right Equipment
A subpar steam cleaner makes little
difference in the cleanliness and appearance of upholstery, but a unit with an
upholstery attachment with stiff bristles gently scrubs the upholstery,
loosening dirt and stains quickly. A medium- to large-size tank reduces refill
trips, saving time; a 48-ounce tank lasts approximately 45 minutes with
continuous steaming, while a small 6-ounce tank runs out in as few as 10
minutes. If a smaller unit is your only option, choose a steam cleaner that
heats quickly. The temperature achieved by the device is also important: A
cheap steam cleaner that only heats water to a relatively tepid temperature
won’t loosen dirt as effectively or disinfect the upholstery. A steam cleaner
should reach at least 158 degrees Fahrenheit to sanitize upholstery and 212
degrees to disinfect.
Vacuuming and Pretreating
Vacuum the furniture thoroughly with a
soft-bristle attachment before cleaning to give the steam cleaner a head start.
Pretreating stains also leads to the best results. Plain vodka removes many
food stains as well as grass and ink spots, while mild detergent and water
remove coffee and some fatty stains, such as those caused by cheese. Use a dry
cleaning solvent on more stubborn stains. Test your chosen spot treatment in a
hidden area before tackling the actual stain; not all fabrics stand up well to
stain removers, and certain products may cause lightening or discoloration.
Steam Cleaning Tips
Read the directions provided by the steam
cleaner manufacturer thoroughly before starting. Work your way from the top of
the furniture down and spend ample time on each section. A quick once-over
won’t remove dirt and stains effectively, nor disinfect the upholstery. Spend
at least 1 minute per section for the best results, and up to 5 minutes per
section if your steam cleaner only reaches a lower heat. Don’t add shampoo or
upholstery cleaner to the tank. A traditional steam cleaner isn’t outfitted
with a rinsing tank, and any shampoo will remain in the upholstery. When you’re
finished, refrain from sitting on or using the furniture until it’s completely
dry. Speed up the process by opening windows or setting up a box fan in the
Benefits of Professional Steam Cleaners
When faced with excessively dirty upholstery,
hiring a professional is in the best interest of your furniture. Professional
steam-cleaning companies utilize industrial-strength equipment that remove even
the toughest of stains, and the technician’s experience ensures that he or she
doesn’t damage the upholstery in the process. Keep your upholstery clean by
steam-cleaning on your own annually, and hire a professional every other year
for a deep cleaning. Depending on your lifestyle and the condition of your
furniture, you may be able to do this less often or invest in yearly
professional cleanings. While steam-cleaning is one of the best ways to make
your furniture last for several years, over-cleaning breaks down the fabric and
the dyes, wearing the upholstery out quickly. Steam-clean only when it’s
necessary and keep furniture in top shape by vacuuming once a week and cleaning
stains immediately with a spot remover.
THE STEPS OF CLEANING AND MAINTAINING YOUR
Furniture stains are very unsightly and can
take away from the aesthetic of even the most well designed room. Although
spills are inevitable and sometimes unavoidable, they don’t always have to
stain. With proper spot cleaning and routine maintenance, you can prevent
unsightly stains and keep your upholstery looking and feeling like new for
years to come. This brief guide will help you clean and maintain your
upholstery to maintain its fresh new appearance.
Clean Spills Quickly
When someone spills coffee, soda, or red
wine on your upholstered furniture, blot the spill immediately with a clean
folded towel. Rubbing the spill will only cause the staining liquids to
penetrate the fabric, so remember to blot gently. Before you use a mild
cleaning product, test in an inconspicuous area to see if the cleaner has a
negative reaction with the fabric
One important aspect of upholstery cleaning
and maintenance is regular vacuuming. Vacuum your upholstered furniture weekly
to remove surface soil and prevent dirt from becoming embedded into the fibers.
If using a brush attachment, always use a soft bristled brush so you don’t snag
and tear the fabric.
Turn Over Loose Cushions
You can greatly extend the life of your
upholstered furniture by periodically turning over loose cushions. This easy
maintenance step allows for an even distribution of wear and tear which helps
the cushions maintain their shape and avoid looking dirty and worn.
Call a Professional
The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and
Restoration Certification recommends having your upholstered furniture professional
cleaned every one or two years. An upholstery cleaning company can remove
stains and restore fabric so your furniture looks and feels like new.
The only downside to upholstery is what can
happen when it comes into contact with liquids. Unlike solid surfaces,
upholstery fabrics are vulnerable to spills and stains and, therefore, will
inevitably require occasional cleaning and care. Savvy homeowners know that not
all fabrics are alike. And even more importantly, they also know that this
means not all fabrics can be treated the same.
To make it easier for our customers to care
for their upholstered Gabby furniture, we classify all of our fabrics under one
of four categories. These four cleaning codes explain the exact methods for
achieving the best results when cleaning and caring for fabrics. Every one of
our fabrics and samples are labeled with one of these four codes, so
referencing care and cleaning instructions is a breeze.
Here is a quick look at our four cleaning codes
for fabric care.
W: Standing for “water-based only,” this
cleaning code is found on fabrics that should not be cleaned with solvents.
Rather, these fabrics should be cleaned, but not over wet, with water-based
shampoos or foam upholstery cleaners.
S: Fabrics labeled with this cleaning code
are to be treated with dry-cleaning solvents. The most important thing to
remember with this code is to not use water. You do not want to saturate or get
these fabrics wet.
SW: This cleaning code is more lenient. Fabrics
marked “SW” can be treated with shampoo or dry-cleaning solvents as you desire.
X: Certain fabrics should not be cleaned
with water, solvents, or any other cleaners. Rather, it’s only recommended that
these fabrics are vacuumed and brushed lightly.
All of our Choice Fabrics and Finishes, for
instance, are cleaning code “S.” This collection features some of our most
popular imported designs, now available with over 17 fabrics and 5 unique wood
finishes to choose from for customized transitional-style seating. Homeowners
and designers love using this collection to turn visions into fabulous designs
with fabrics that enhance interiors and express personal style
There are a couple of other additional tips
we always offer our customers. First, we recommend keeping all covers on
cushions. They may have zippers, but we urge you never remove cushion covers to
be separately laundered or dry-cleaned. We also carefully instruct customers to
refrain from using bleach or any tumble method cleaning service. This may
damage, shrink, or destroy the backing of upholstery fabrics. Finally, most of
our pile fabrics – no matter the cleaning code – can be brushed to restore
their original appearance.
Care & Cleaning
Treat spills and stains as soon as possible.
Test on hidden area to ensure fabric and colour are not removed. Gently scrape
any soil or mop any liquid from the surface of the fabric. Use of soap or
detergent with water should be approached with caution since overzealous
rinsing to remove soap residue may result in over-wetting, water marking and
possible wetting of substructure (this may create other stains or damage
For non-oil-based stains use warm water and
non-toilet soaps which do not contain optical brighteners (consider Velvet
soap, Lux Flakes, Softly). Mix a small amount of soap and warm water solution
and apply to the stain, rubbing gently. Blot dry with a clean towel. Apply cool
water (preferably filtered or distilled water) and blot dry again. Then with a
hair dryer, working out from the centre of the stain, dry quickly to prevent
rings forming. It is generally preferable to clean whole panels of fabric in
this way rather than trying to spot clean specific areas.
For oil-based stains following the same
basic guidelines as above, apply a proprietary brand solvent based cleaner and
try to clean generally in panels rather than spot cleaning specific areas. A
helpful industry ‘secret’ for spot removal of oil based biro marks is by the
application of conventional hair spray or Glen 20.
A First Aid Kit for Fabrics
To further enhance spot cleaning results,
have introduced the Halo Fabric Care Kit which includes Halo spot cleaner for
most household stains, Halo fabric deodoriser to help neutralise pet and
general odours and Halo fabric protector to restore liquid repellency on fabric
sections that have been spot cleaned
Professional fabric servicing
Fabrics recommend that water-based ‘Fluro
chemical’ type fabric protectors be applied by licensed applicators only. Check
your care label first to see if a mill-applied protection was incorporated
during fabric manufacture. Fabric protectors do not eliminate the need for
vacuuming, routine cleaning or proper care. They will, however, make spot
cleaning and vacuuming quicker, easier and more efficient between professional
cleans and keep your fabric looking cleaner longer, as well as extending its
life. Professionals applying fabric protectors must always pre-test to qualify
Extreme caution should be taken if
considering treatment of velvets and pocket weaves with stain repellent
products. Some high pile velvet and pocket weave jacquards may change in
surface character if stain repellent treatments are incorrectly applied. Extra
care should be taken to pre-test for these fabrics.
Upholstery Cleaning for All Furniture Types
Try as you may to protect your furniture,
whether you have a house full of kids and animals or it’s just you alone,
spills and stains are inevitable. And even if you are careful and manage to
avoid big disasters and small spills, cleaning furniture thoroughly is an
important task that many people forget about. In fact, you may not even realize
how much bacteria and allergens have built up in your upholstery — and which
could even be contributing negatively toward your health.
Because of all this, it’s crucial that you
make sure to clean your couches and other furniture thoroughly and regularly.
Professional upholstery cleanings are the best way to eradicate bacteria and
allergens, but proper maintenance in between cleanings is also essential. Here
is a guide to everything you need to know about furniture and upholstery
cleaning for each type of furniture.
What is the Best Way to Clean a Fabric
There are a few different ways to tackle a
fabric sofa, some are things that you should do regularly, and some at larger
intervals or when a spill occurs:
Sometimes removing dirt and crumbs can be
as simple as using a dry brush to loosen and sweep it off. Be sure to lay down
something to catch the debris, or vacuum after.
A vacuum also works wonders on a fabric
couch. Without having to get into water and water-based solutions, you can
utilize a hand-held vacuum to clean and get into the nooks and crannies.
The benefit of some fabric furniture is
that it has covers that you can simply unzip and wash in a regular machine. If
yours has these covers, be sure to check for the specific washing instructions
for that material.
Use baking soda
Sprinkling baking soda over a fabric couch
can be a great way to remove odors and loosen stains, before vacuuming it up.
You can also create a solution for a deeper clean or spot clean, with equal
parts baking soda and water. Take care using baking soda on some upholstered
surfaces like microfiber and leather.
How to Maintain Leather Furniture
Many people love the durability of leather
furniture, as well as the perception that it is easy to clean. However, a great
deal of attention is required when you have leather furniture, as many of the
most common upholstery cleaning products will break down leather finishes and
could cause permanent damage.
Here are some tips for maintaining leather
Wipe up spills as quickly as possible
Be sure to use towels or cloths that are
soft and absorbent to lessen the potential for scratching the leather.
Keep it away from sunlight and ventilation
Placement of your leather furniture is more
important than you think. Things such as sunlight or being placed directly next
to an air-conditioning vent can age the leather much quicker.