Heacock’s Corner: Speedy Furniture Cleaning

Heacock’s Corner: Speedy Furniture Cleaning

There are many ways to clean a given article of furniture. You can shampoo it with a bucket and a brush. You can dry clean it with a bucket and a brush.

You can use a sponge instead of a brush. You can steam-clean it with a machine, or dry-clean it with a machine. You can apply shampoo or solvent with a hand pumped garden-type sprayer, you can shampoo with a rotary machine, or bonnet with a rotary machine.

All of the above require approximately one hour to clean an average sofa. Times vary due to degrees of soiling, type of fabric, and method of applying the cleaning chemical.

Speedy Cleaning Method #1

The Bonnet System Simile

This idea is from cleaning very delicate silks and satins, and lightly soiled furniture. By extension, and a lot of practise, I have found all but the very grimiest will clean satisfactorily.

Apply the shampoo with either a hand held quart bottle with a trigger sprayer, a garden-type hand pumped sprayer 1 or 2 gallon, or an electric sprayer, such as is used to apply topical treatments to carpet.

You can also use a portable steam-cleaning machine with pressure up to 100 lbs., by using a spraying attachment only,not a cleaning tool. If using a Steam Cleaning machine, or an electric sprayer, use a fine jet, such as an .01 or .050 sized hole.

The method of applying the chemical is not important. Use whatever is conveniently available to you.

Dry vac the entire area. Get into crevices, and recessed buttons. It is important to have all of the loose dust and soil off before applying moisture. Remove any conspicuous spots first, by applying spot remover to a towel, then onto the fabric. Towel dry. Depending on the soiling condition of the fabric, whether to apply to the entire body, or cushion at one time, or only onto your bonnet. You can use a folded towel for a bonnet, or something such as a car wash mit. The car wash mitt is the fastest to use.

With most fabrics, apply the shampoo to the entire sofa or chair body first.

Put on the mitt, and spray it (or the towel). Rub briskly all over the area. Towel off with a dry towel. There is nothing to vacuum off, you are finished.

Apply in the same manner to the cushions. Stand cushions on zipper side, on seat decking, to dry.

With some delicate satins and silks, you may wish to apply the shampoo only to the bonnet and not directly onto the fabric. This system isn’t faster than the other way, but it leaves the fabric very dry. The customer could use it in minutes.

Speedy Method #2

Pressure Washing Simile

This idea is from cleaning fire and smoke damaged furniture, but will clean most fabrics, whether lightly or heavily soiled.

The kind of fabric does not matter. If it is colorfast, and does not shrink, it can be cleaned this way. I have cleaned hundreds, for over twenty years. If possible, you should run a test before beginning, to determine if the fabric is colorfast, and whether it will shrink. Make the test on the zipper side of the cushion. Here, you can tell shrinkage, if the zipper puckers. If the colors run, it will be in an inconspicuous area. If the fabric passes these tests, then proceed. It will not matter how wet it gets. This system requires an area to work in where it does not matter how wet the surrounding area gets. It can be done in a plant, or outdoors on a customer’s patio or deck. Never do this indoors in a customer’s living room, unless you spread a lot of tarps out on the floor first. Dry vacuum first to remove loose dust, or soot, if smoke damaged. Vacuum all the crevices and recessed buttons. With a pressure-washing gun, connected to a steam-cleaning machine, use a jet sized at .02 to .06 depending on the pressure available, and the degree of soiling, and the fabric type.

The water does not need to be very hot. Anywhere from stone cold, to 160 degrees at the fabric. Temperatures over 160, you may lead to problems with shrinkage, and color run of the fabric. Hold the gun as you would when pressure washing a building, at an angle of about thirty degrees to the work area. This causes the soil to be sheared off.

If required, tilt, or turn the work area so that you are not getting splashed. Do the body first, so there will be a clean place to put the cleaned cushions.

To clean the cushions, place them flat on the floor, several at a time, depending on space. Clean top, and edges, of all of them, turn over, clean other side, and get any missed edges.

Stand on zipper side to drip while next batch of cushions is getting cleaned. Vacuum the first batch while the second batch is dripping on their zipper edges.

This system is the best for coarsely woven nylons, and herculons, vinyls, naugahyde, and ultrasuede, even tightly woven nylon parachute cloth. Velvets, corduroys, any pile fabric can be done this way. Be sure to groom any pile fabric forward and down to restore proper appearance.

This system is the only way to fully clean smoke-damaged items. Sometimes there is no way to run pre-cleaning tests with smoke-damaged items, because of the severity of the soot and other chemicals. Go ahead and pressure-wash them.

They would be considered a loss anyway. You very likely will be able to improve the article, to where it will be acceptable to the customer.

Gary Heacock
-The Interstellar Crossroads of The Universehttp://www.heacocks.com