Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning Techniques

Being knowledgeable regarding carpet and upholstery cleaning techniques is essential to keeping one’s carpet and upholstery in good condition and to creating a safe, comfortable, and healthy home.

Carpet and fabric upholstery (leather and suede upholstery will require different treatments than those suggested by this guide) require a blend of both wet and dry cleaning methods, along with timely stain management and a close attention to detail. Below are some top tips for carpet and upholstery cleaning that are used by your Bristol carpet cleaning experts Aquawave.

Remember to Vacuum Prior to Wet Cleaning

Before engaging in wet carpet and upholstery cleaning (e.g. hot water extraction), you should be sure to vacuum your carpets and upholstery. Delicate upholstery that is not vacuumed prior to wet cleaning may be damaged or further dirtied by large dirt particles. Be sure to make use of an upholstery attachment and to work thoroughly, cleaning out all the cracks and crevices, and to clean all the cushions as well.

If you have pets, once you have vacuumed the upholstery, double check to verify that all pet hair has been removed, as vacuums will not always effectively pick it up. If your vacuum is not able to remove all pet hair, try a pet hair remover before engaging in any wet cleaning methods.

Always Attend to Spills Immediately

While hot water extraction machines (particularly commercial-grade ones) are no doubt powerful, we cannot always rely on them to completely remove stubborn stains. Likewise, while there are many stain treatments available, they can be harsh and may damage or discolour upholstery and carpeting if not used cautiously and precisely. Ergo, it’s better to manage stains with an ounce of prevention rather than a pound of cure—as soon as a spill happens, blot it with something highly absorbent, so that it does not soak into the carpeting or furniture stuffing (where after it may damage the wood frame of the furniture), nor “set” into the carpet or upholstery fabric.

Do not scrub or rub spills, as this can actually drive them further below the surface of the upholstery, and use a white cloth or paper towel if possible to mitigate the risk of any dyes leeching into the fabric.

carpet and upholstery cleaning

Pay Attention to Detail: Know Which Cleaners Should Be Used To Clean Your Carpet and Upholstery

Carpet is usually a bit more forgiving than upholstery, so long as it is not made of natural fibres; there are a plethora of “home remedies” which tend to work fairly well for different types of carpet cleaning (such as baking soda for odour control, club soda for red wine stains, and mild dish soap for stain blotting and removal), and when it comes to wet cleaning methods, the hot water extraction cleaner you rent will usually come with a carpet-safe detergent that works with that cleaner.

When cleaning upholstery, you’ll need to know the exact type of fabric that the upholstery is made of (there are many kinds, ranging from cotton, wool, and silk, to acetate, linen, rayon, olefin, and acrylic), and know the type of spill or stain that needs to be treated. You’ll also need to consider the age of the furniture; if your furniture is very valuable or antique, you should absolutely call in a professional rather than attempting to clean it on your own.

To find out what your upholstery is made out of, look for the tags on your furniture; they are usually tucked away somewhere inconspicuous, usually on the side of the furniture or under the seat cushions. The tag will contain codes that reveal how to safely clean the upholstery, as outlined below:

W: Use a water-based detergent.

S: Do not use water-based cleaners; use a dry (solvent) cleaner. (It’s usually best to leave this kind of job to the professionals, who are well-versed in solvent use.)

WS: Either water-based or solvent-based (dry) cleaners should be acceptable.

X: Do not clean the furniture yourself; it must be cleaned professionally.

If you have removed the tags from your furniture and discarded them, you should either “spot test” any wet or solvent cleaners you hope to use, or call in a professional cleaner.

Never Soak Either Carpet or Upholstery

One of the most essential things to keep in mind when engaging in wet carpet and upholstery cleaning is the danger of soaking the carpeting or furniture. Over-wetting either carpeting or upholstery leads to shrinkage, leaking, and odour-development; likewise, if water gets so deep into the carpet that it seeps into the adhesive layer, damage and mould growth are almost inevitable, and will necessitate the carpet being replaced in its entirety. If you are not confident that you can wet clean either carpet or upholstery on your own without over-wetting it, hire out your carpet and upholstery cleaning needs instead; a small expense in the short term is far preferable to a large one down the road.


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