State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500280
Testing Upholstery Cleanability
Check Stuffing and Lining
If the cushions don't have zippers, the stuffing or lining materials
can be determined by sticking a fine crochet hook in the bottom side of
the cushion and pulling out a small amount of stuffing and lining.
If latex foam rubber padding, a dry cleaning solvent should not be
used. Urethane foams, such as polyurethane or polyfoam, are less
subject to deterioration by dry cleaning solvents. Polyester fibers in
cushion are resistant to most dry-cleaning chemicals except ones that
contain phenol or hot mets-cresol.
If any dark or red stuffing thread is found be aware of potential
bleeding during shampooing or cleaning. It may indicate that the fabric
must be cleaned with a minimum of moisture.
If jute fillings are found close to the surface, the jute may cause
browning of the upholstery fabric when it becomes wet.
Check for Color Fastness
This is done by pressing a white rag or paper towel dampened with
cleaning solution on the fabric's deeper colors on some unnoticeable
place. If color is transferred to the rag, it should be tested again
with a slightly acid cleaning solution. If color still bleeds, then the
only safe cleaner for the fabric is dry cleaning solvent which may be
used for spots, but should NOT be used at home for overall cleaning for
safety. Have solvent cleaning done commercially by professionals in a
controlled plant. Even though an upholstered piece may have been
cleaned several times, it can still run or fade after long exposure to
wear or sun.
Check for Shrinkage
Clean a section on the back or pillow side; use the cleaning solution
in the appropriate concentration, allow to dry, and inspect. Has the
fabric pulled together or become tighter? If so the fabric has shrunk.
If any of these tests indicate bleeding, fading, shrinkage, or damage
to the upholstery fabric, then you have two choices: either have it
cleaned by a professional or decide not to clean the piece.
This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus
with references from the Georgia Extension bulletin, How to Care for
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June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Thomas G. Coon, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing,MI 48824. This
information is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial
products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or
bias against those not mentioned.
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