Sunday, May 4, 2014

How To Clean the Upholstery in Your Home

In my last blog I discussed why homeowners can now easily clean their upholstery on their own using Clean Safe Products Green Mitt System. Now I'll tell you exactly how to do it. This is going to be more of a how-to clean upholstery in your home guide so let's start with what we need. 
  1. A strong vacuum cleaner with a hose and attachments or tools. 
  2. Two buckets.
  3. Green Mitt.
  4. Two ounces Clean Safe Products carpet and upholstery cleaner.
  5. One gallon warm to hot water for one bucket with clean safe product.
  6. One bucket filled with hot water for rinsing.  

The first step in cleaning any item is to remove the dry soils. Never clean any fabric without at least giving the fabric a good quick vacuum. Honestly, that isn't even good advice. Everything you clean should be vacuumed thoroughly but I know that some people will not want to do the work of vacuuming at all! So at the very least, you have to remove some of the dry soils that settle into your fabrics. Keep in mind that fabrics are soft and porous, so the soils that settle on hard surfaces, settle into soft fabrics. These soils need to be removed thoroughly for best results. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so I'm going to show you what's in your fabrics for soil by having you perform this easy test.

To see how much dry soil is in your fabrics, perform the dust test. Fold a paper towel in half. With the vacuum cleaner off, place the paper towel on the end of the vacuum hose. Drape the rest of the towel over the sides of the hose and wrap your hand around it. Now turn the vacuum on and run the hose over a section of what you are going to clean. So if you're cleaning a chair, run the hose back and forth over this a few times. Shut off the vacuum before removing the paper towel. Then remove the towel and look at how much dust is in that section of cushion you just tested. This is the dust that settles into your fabrics and gets ground into the fabrics as we sit on it!

By removing these soils, you limit the future discoloration of your fabrics and also prep your chair for cleaning. The more thoroughly you remove these dry soils, the better your results. The same dry soil test that you did before you started to vacuum can now be used to see how well you did at removing all the dust.

After you have removed the dry soils, our next step is to prep to remove the ground in soils that aren't removed with the vacuuming. A good way to see what kind of an effect these soils have on your fabrics is to compare a few areas. First, if you can remove your seat cushion, compare the back of the cushion where the zipper is (a place with little to no exposure) to another part of the chair like the armrests or the headrest (an area that gets all of the exposure). This is where you will see the contrast, showing the level of visual soiling that has taken place. Obviously the more contrast the more soiled your fabric. Keep in mind; any textile that had gotten extremely soiled over a period of years will have some permanent damage or staining which is why regular seasonal cleanings are recommended.

Another way to illustrate the ground in soils on your fabrics is with a contrast test. In this test, we wrap clean white all cotton or microfiber towel around your three middle fingers. The first step is to submerge the towel into the bucket of Clean Safe Products cleaner (mixed 2 ounces to a gallon) and wring it out well so it’s just damp. From there wrap the towel around your fingers and run your fingers over the soiled area of the fabric a few times. What you'll see is the ground in soils that have been removed from the fabric and onto the towel. These two tests, the visual check and the contract test, illustrate the level of ground in soils that are on and ruining your fabrics

One quick note on safety; fortunately, as far as that is concerned, most fabrics can be cleaned safely with water. This is especially true with the green mint system since it is a water-based system that uses minimal amounts of water. This reduces the risk of these concerns from happening. If you are at all concerned with whether or not you will run into any issues, check out the safety section of our website.

Now the fun begins. We've tested out fabric and we know we can proceed safely. We need to mix 2 ounces of the Clean Safe carpet and upholstery cleaner to 1 gallon of warm to hot water in 1 bucket. Fill a second bucket with warm to hot water only. This is our rinsing bucket (if you don’t want to use a second bucket running water at the sink will do just fine). If using a bucket to rinse, make sure to keep the water clean. It's exciting to see all the soils you remove from your fabrics that get deposited into the rinse bucket, but keeping this water fresh will keep the cleaning water clean and will allow you to get better results when cleaning your upholstery.

Now that we are all set up you need to submerge the Green Mitt into the bucket with the cleaner in it and wring it out. Select one section of your upholstery to clean at a time, like the arm or back of a chair. Concentrate on that section, and don't move on to the next section until you finish that section. Wipe the section down with back and forth motions, rubbing the mitt into the fabric. Flip the mitt and use the other side. After thoroughly going over each section, rinse the mitt in the bucket of rinse water and wring it out. Submerge the Green Mitt into the bucket with the cleaner, wring it out, and continue to a new area.

For heavier soiled areas of fabric, like the arms where your hands rub or the head rest where there may be soiling due to hair oils, you can apply a pre-spray of the cleaner to the fabric using the empty spray bottle in the kit. By spraying the fabric with the Clean Safe Products cleaner so that it gets the fabric damp, and letting it dwell on those areas for a couple minutes, the solution will dissolve the soils. This will make it easier to remove these soils and trap them in the mitt.

It's always best to not be too aggressive trying this out for the first time. We recommend going over your fabric on your upholstery and walking away and getting an idea of what it looks like when it's dry. You should not be getting a fabric so wet that it takes in most cases more than half hour or an hour to dry. Using a fan to dry your fabrics will speed dry times. Remember, regular seasonal wipe downs are recommended to keep your fabrics looking always new.

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