Care and cleaning
The information in this section is provided in good faith. Sustainable Living ® Fabrics accepts no responsibility for any claim arising from the treatments proposed.
With proper care and cleaning, wool upholstery fabrics will maintain their appearance for years. Synthetics tend to hold the dirt more and may require more frequent cleaning. The general rule is the longer it's been there, the harder it is to remove. Regular light vacuuming will quickly remove dust and fluff. More intensive cleaning will be required from time to time and should be done by professional cleaners. Dry cleaning is recommended.
Stains can be treated according to the type of stain. Speed is essential for best results. Detailed information on the removal of stains is available from the website of the Woolmark Company at www.woolfurnishings.com
The Commercial Textiles Association provides aftercare labels that are supplied with our upholstery fabrics and provide guidelines for the care, spot cleaning and cleaning of fabric for upholstered furniture. The following general guidelines are supplied by the CTA in their booklet, Standard Aftercare Labels for upholstered furniture. We do not endorse these as environmentally preferable maintenance solutions but do recommend you use professional cleaners experienced in cleaning textile products with environmentally friendly product.
General method of cleaning upholstery
While routine care can minimise the need to clean upholstered furniture, and spot cleaning can restore locally soiled areas, at some time it will be necessary to clean the entire piece of furniture.
The methods of cleaning non-removable covers include:
- SHAMPOO CLEANING
- HOT WATER EXTRACTION
- ON-SITE DRYCLEANING
Shampoo cleaning is generally a hand process, which uses a foaming detergent solution to effect the cleaning. Despite its simplicity, shampoo cleaning requires considerable skill if it is to be successful.
Shampoos may be purchased in aerosol cans, which provide a shampoo foam, and they are also available as a concentrated detergent, which is diluted with water.
In this case, the detergent solution is applied to the upholstery by means of a clean cloth or sponge.
It is essential that only upholstery shampoos be used. Detergents formulated for other purposes (e.g. dishwashing) often produce sticky residues, which may lead to acceleration of soiling.
Of equal importance is the technique for applying the shampoo to the fabric. Excess water must be avoided, otherwise the interior of the furniture will become wet. This causes excess drying times, mildew and odours and may lift soil from the interior of the furniture to stain the surface of the fabric. Finally, scrubbing can produce a hairy surface.
Hot Water Extraction
Hot water extraction is commonly referred to as 'steam cleaning' and is a machine process.
The hot water extraction machine applies a hot detergent solution to the fabric and then extracts it before it penetrates the filling.
This process does not apply steam to the fabric, as the common expression would apply.
Hot water extraction is possibly most familiar as a carpet cleaning process. In fact, many carpet cleaners have expanded their services to include upholstery cleaning.
Hot water extraction machines are also available for hire by consumers. This relatively simple process has several potential dangers for the inexperienced user. Of chief concern is the risk of overwetting. For this reason alone, consumers may be well advised to have this process performed by an experienced tradesman.
On-site drycleaning is a method of cleaning which is relatively new to Australia and New Zealand.
Essentially, the process is similar to hot water extraction and uses very similar machinery.
The on-site drycleaning machine sprays a solvent onto the fabric and then extracts it by means of a vacuum extractor.
The solvent is at room temperature and is not heated.
When it is sprayed onto the fabric, it flushes off any loose soil particles and dissolves oily soils.
The dirty solvent is directed into a waste container and may be reclaimed for cleaning and further use.
The solvent is generally based on 1.1.1 trichloroethane and may contain special additives designed to enhance the cleaning performance.
Any such solvent additives are generally proprietary secrets.
Typically the solvents are non-flammable but are toxic.
The machine exhausts vapour to the outside of the building by means of a flexible hose. Unless this is done, the solvents' vapours could present a health hazard. For this reason, it is essential that the machine operator be properly trained and that they ensure that the solvent residues in the fabric are minimised.
On-site drycleaning must be done in a well ventilated room, and ventilation must be maintained until the furniture is dry from solvents.
Because many stains are water soluble and not solvent-soluble, it is often necessary to pre-spot fabrics with special water-based cleaning agents.
This is similar to the general procedure used by drycleaners when dealing with clothing.
Soil Resist Treated Fabrics
Many fabrics are treated by the textile manufacturer with special chemicals to impart a soil resistance quality to the fabric. These chemicals are also often available for the treatment of finished items of furniture. Furniture may be treated by the furniture manufacturer, the retailer, or by independent applicators.
The presence of a soil resist treatment will generally require a modification of the care instructions to be applied to a fabric. The CTA (Commercial Textile Association) labels 3 and 4 cover fabrics treated with soil resistant finishes. An upholstery cleaner specifically for soil resist treated fabrics is available from Australian Hi-Tech Protection (Tel: 03 9792 0722).
NOTE: Sustainable Living ® Fabrics does not recommend soil resist treatments as effective soil resist treatments do not meet our environmental standard. Therefore, we will only treat fabrics at the specific request of customers and that fabric then does not carry the GECA ecolabel.
Screen & Partitioning Fabric
The following guideline refers to screen and partitioning fabric. It is to be used as a guideline only.