“Just wipe the chair down with a damp sponge or towel,” a customer was recently told at a furniture store.
Many upholstery sales personnel know very little about the maintenance and care of today’s textiles and fabrics, making it sound like “bulletproof” fabric – that customers can do almost anything to it without fear of damage.
As a professional cleaner, you need specialized knowledge and skills to be certain what can – and can’t – be done to clean various types of upholstery.
Three ways to become an expert
Legend Brands makes it easy for you to get what you need for successful upholstery cleaning:
There are some very durable and easy to clean upholstery fabrics on the market today, often used in microfiber “velvets” or other fabrics with texture.
However, many high-end upholstery fabrics contain a large percentage of natural fibers, such as cotton, wool or even silk. None of these fabrics can be safely treated with a damp towel or sponge as the salesperson suggested.
Cotton is quite frequently blended into fabrics, because it’s comfortable against skin and for sitting, as it does not reflect heat as many of the synthetic fibers do.
“Browning” problems with fabrics
Unfortunately, wet cotton cloth dries very slowly and can often turn brown in the process. This is a condition called cellulosic browning. When cotton of any other cellulosic (plant-based) fabrics is exposed to water and dries slowly, a small part of the inner cell wall called “lignin” is carried with the water and left on the surface when the water evaporates
An apple is a great example of cellulosic browning. What happens when you cut it open and expose the soft inner flesh to air and light? It turns brown! And what do you do to keep an apple from turning brown? Treat with lemon juice (acid).
By applying chemistry knowledge to the use of acids and alkaline in cleaning and finishing processes, we can control problems in today’s fabrics and fibers.