ICS Magazine

Upholstery Cleaning as an Add-on Service

April 11, 2005

As a carpet-care professional, you owe it not only to your clients but to yourself to offer upholstery cleaning.

You owe it to yourself because almost all professional upholstery-cleaning services are also carpet-cleaning services. Hence, if you clean a client's carpets but decline to clean the sofa, another carpet cleaner will. Get the picture?

Obviously, if you do not possess any knowledge in this field, you must of course decline the job. The next step, however, is to obtain that knowledge and fast. Upholstery cleaning is a lucrative service, accounting for a large percentage of my firm's income. Many large jobs will include opportunities for both carpet cleaning and furniture cleaning. And the last thing you want is your valued clients calling in another company to clean their furniture.

Different Fabrics Equal Different Methods
There are fabrics, such as herculons, that are nearly indestructible. You can almost use a garden hose on them without consequence, though I highly recommend you avoid this approach.

These materials can be safely wet-cleaned using an extraction process nearly identical to hot-water extraction but with a lower psi. They react well to pre-treatments, clean easily, and dry fast. These materials are most commonly found in family rooms on all styles of furniture, from Colonial to Modern. And as they are often tweeds in the earth-tone families, they are indeed a cleaner's delight.

You also have an array of fabrics, ranging from difficult to run-as-fast-as-you-can. For me, the latter is natural suede. Many cotton fabrics can be cleaned using a fast-dry shampoo, while others requiring solvent cleaning. Still other specialty cottons, such as Haitian and Tahitian cotton, are cleaned with specially formulated products made specifically for these materials. Properly identifying and cleaning these fabrics is where your education pays its greatest dividends.

When cleaning furniture, care must be taken to avoid wetting the muslin material under the cushions, as well as nearby end tables, hardwood floors, etc. We use sheets and keep plenty of clean white towels on hand to keep problems at bay. Be sure to pre-vac all crevices and the furniture backing before your begin.

It is important to understand that most problems resulting from cleaning occur with the drying process. We always carry blow dryers to speed dry the tougher fabrics before we leave. The clients love it, and I sleep much better.

Upholstery cleaning is a lucrative service that should be offered by all professional carpet-care services. There is no substitute for hands-on experience; seek out industry-sponsored upholstery cleaning classes the first chance you get. If you have the opportunity to ride with a local cleaner, by all means do so. There are firms that do not feel threatened by this request and would love to help out. I've done it myself.

Happy cleaning!