Fabric Protectors and Maintenance of Fabric Upholstery
Professional carpet and upholstery cleaners may raise the subject of chemical fabric protectors. There is of course, an extra charge for such treatment, and therefore there are extra profits for the seller. If a protector was applied at the mill where the fabric is made, the fabric shouldn’t need to be retreated until it has been cleaned two or three times.
Although there are many brands of stain repellent, there are basically two types: fluorocarbons and silicones. Fluorocarbons (e.g., Scotchguard or Teflon) protect against both oil- and water-based stains; silicones only protect against water-based stains. Some silicone products may yellow with exposure to ultraviolet light.
If you don’t know whether your upholster has been treated with a stain protector, you might consider having one applied after cleaning. Two caveats: It’s important that the protector be applied evenly. (Electric sprayers and aerosol cans are likely to create a more even coat than is possible with a pump sprayer.) It is recommended to check labels for precautions. Some protectors are recommended for use only on certain types of fabrics. As with any type of treatment, it is advisable to apply a bit of protector on a hidden area of the upholstery to make sure the dye doesn’t bleed.
Preventive maintenance—vacuuming regularly and catching spills before they become stains – can go a long way toward postponing the need toward overall cleaning. Vacuum all surfaces of the furniture, including the back and sides, the skirt, the arms, the platform underneath the cushions, and both sides of loose cushions.
If you’re working on arms that are narrower than the vacuum cleaner’s nozzle, cover the exposed section of the nozzle with your hand or a piece of cardboard to improve the suction. When vacuuming a delicate fabric—velvet, nubby silk, or crewel embroidery, for instance—you can avoid snagging the fabric by placing a piece of non-metallic window screen or nylon mesh between the nozzle and the fabric.
Once furniture is too soiled for vacuuming, your best bet is to hire a professional. Choose one who will evaluate the furniture and spot-test the fabric before cleaning. Make sure the company indicates, in writing, any problems anticipated during the cleaning, and apply the cleaning product in a well-lighted area so you can see how the job is going.
A steamer can be used only on fabrics that can tolerate a water-based cleaner. Additionally, the machine isn’t easy to setup, use, and clean. Be careful not to overwet the upholstery, and be very careful with piping. Moisture can cause many types of stuffing to bleed. After using a steamer, open windows and doors and use fans to speed drying. Upholstery should dry in less than 24 hours..