Thursday, February 28, 2008

Upholstery Shampoos

Upholstered fabric furniture can be shampooed professionally by a dry-cleaning plant, or you may do it yourself with a commercial product or homemade detergent suds. Be careful to use only foam or suds and to avoid wetting the furniture padding. Occasionally shrinkage is a problem, especially with cotton and some rayon fabrics. Always test for shrinkage, fading or color bleeding on the back or in an area that doesn't show. See "Testing Cleanability". Also test cleaner you have not used before, before using, to be sure it does not leave a sticky residue which can hasten re-soiling. See "Testing Residue". Work quickly, doing a small area at a time. Blot the surface dry with a clean cloth or towel. The furniture may feel damp for several hours, depending on atmospheric conditions. To speed up the drying, set furniture outdoors in the shade, indoors with windows open or in front of an electric fan or heater.
Commercial shampoos in aerosol cans are easiest to use because they produce only suds and eliminate any danger of soaking the fabric. Residue and soil are usually vacuumed off after the upholstery has dried. Directions vary, so be sure to follow those on the label of the shampoo you are using. Shampoos which become powdery when dry are easily vacuumed off. If the dried shampoo is not powdery and still has a soapy feel, it may cling to the fabric and contribute to rapid resoiling. If you use this kind, do not depend on vacuuming to remove it. Instead, use a damp sponge as described under the detergent and water method.

You can make your own shampoo but it is more work. Use 1/2 teaspoon liquid handwashing detergent per quart of warm water. Make suds by squeezing a sponge in the solution.

Apply suds with the sponge or a soft brush, rubbing gently with the grain of the material. Work on a small area at a time, "rinsing" each area as you go with a clean damp sponge. Keep rinsing out the sponge to remove all shampoo. Avoid soaking the fabric. Move on to the next area, overlapping the last one to avoid spotting. Change rinse water frequently to keep it clean. Be sure all the suds are removed or it will re-soil faster.

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