FURNITURE FABRIC CARE & SENSIBILITY
Furniture is one of the major items that decorate your home. It has the ability to make or break the room atmosphere. Much effort and time goes into making the right choice, creating the right image.
Choosing the right fabric is critical not only to the room, but to durability and how long ‘the look’ will last. Some fabrics are extremely elegant and simply put – gorgeous, while others may not be as stunning, but are very useful to the four kids – and all their friends.
Here are some points you will want to consider when purchasing your next fabric covered furniture:
- Synthetic fibers (nylon, acrylic, polyester, olefin / polypropylene) are usually able to clean better and are less costly to clean.
- Natural fibers (cotton, rayon, silk, wool) are normally harder to maintain but produce more exquisite fabrics.
In a practical application, a sofa set in the family room with the TV and popcorn every Thursday night would be better with a synthetic fabric. Spotting and general care is easier. However, it’s important to vacuum every 2 – 3 weeks to help reduce soiling when kids & pets are around.
Natural fibers tend to be a part of more elegant furniture. This is OK for your formal and occasional use living room. These fibers love spots as they tend to be highly absorbent. For example, a coffee spill will absorb almost immediately and possibly never come out – Scotchgarded or not – due to the heat it contains when it spills.
A word about microfiber. This is a very common fabric today. Officially it is a polyester fiber but highly modified. It has very unique issues that can cause grief. In your kitchen, you may have wash cloths or floor mop heads etc. made from this microfiber fabric because they ‘clean’ surfaces very nicely. The problem is that the fabric you just used that ‘cleans very nicely’ is now also what your family sits on in front of the TV where ‘dirt sticks to it’.
Spilling even a tablespoon of clean water often leaves a stubborn circle that is difficult to remove. The trick to dealing with these spots is that after you have cleaned an area, start drying it with a cotton towel & use a hairdryer at the same time on low to dry it. Professional cleaning of this fabric is often time consuming and not ‘inexpensive’. We do not recommend active families with limited budgets choose this fabric.
Color choice is very important to the relationship of the use of the furniture. The heavier the use, the darker the colors desirable from a cleaning / long term maintenance perspective. Mid multi-toned fabrics work very well for heavy use furniture.
Most homes would like a balance between beauty and practicality. Once fibers (especially naturals) are grey with wear & tear, they may stay gray – cleaning will remove dirt but not necessarily the graying effect called “shading” which leaves permanent scratches embedded in the fiber producing dullness.
There are a number of methods of cleaning fabrics. Each fabric is carefully thought about in terms of its fabric types, colors, dye structure, weave structure and amount / type of soil present. From this we determine a safe yet effective way of cleaning your furniture.
Considerable difference to each fabric type and its cleaning requirements is given in terms of the cleaning agents we use. “Presprays” generally speaking, allow a simple presoak that helps soils release itself from its attachment to the fabric. The cleaning agent used in this portion of the process dictates largely how well the cleaning will turn out. Again, safety of the fabric is the deciding factor. Chemically stronger solutions have dangers on the more sensitive – natural fibers.
After the prespray, is the rinse cycle / flushing / soil removal from the fabric. Most often, steam cleaning – or versions of it – are used for cleaning furnishings. This can range from standard steam cleaning that flushes the largest amount of soils out of the fabric to delicate natural fibers which need very little moisture to prevent undesirable effects. This method may use a tenth of the moisture standard steam cleaning uses. There are more methods available to us for fabric cleaning other than these, but the vast majority will be cleaned using the methods mentioned.
The American Furniture Manufacturers Assoc. (AMFA) recommends that all furniture fabrics be cleaned every 18 – 24 months. We prefer to adjust this in accordance with the type and amount of use the piece receives as well as ‘the look’ of the furniture you are trying to retain within the room.
The AMFA also states that virtually all furniture fabrics manufactured within the continental USA include some form of fabric protection whether it be 3M Scotchgard or Dupont Teflon or other brands. The furniture store may offer you another coating which is not necessary but come with an extended warranty that can be useful if accidents happen. Reapplication, however, of these protectors is usually necessary after cleaning as soils scratch the original protection similar to a 3 year old Teflon coated frypan with scratches in it. If the manufacturers think it is so important that every fabric made has protection , naturally it is important to keep it up for better wearing and cleanability which is what happens when we reapply these coatings.
Our Certified Master & Journeyman Cleaners are IICRC Certified in upholstery cleaning. We strongly believe in the education process which helps us be wiser cleaners, ones less likely to make mistakes. Cleaning furniture is one of the more technical things we clean. Most fabrics are ‘blends’, which may or may not be colorfast, shrinkable, and many other complications may arrive during the cleaning process. The education we have, helps us to prevent issues before they happen. We look forward to serving you with our furniture cleaning. It will make them much fresher, brighter and restore its vibrancy!
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