Introduction To Upholstery Cleaning


There is often less competition and more profit in upholstery cleaning than in carpet cleaning!


As carpet in many homes in being replaced by timber and the tile flooring, it is timely to look out for other profit opportunities available to professional carpet cleaners. Upholstery cleaning is the “Perfect Match” for carpet cleaning companies who already own most of the equipment required for this valuable service.


You Will Need:


  1. Hot water extractor such as Cleancare’s Jet 45
  2. Properly designed upholstery tool, the Fabrex Tool has stood the test; over 2000 tools being used in the field.
  3. Pump up sprayer of about 6L capacity such as the Hudson Vim Sprayer.
  4. Heavy Duty Soil Lifter pre-spray for body and hair oil stains.
  5. KleenRite or PreKleen detergents (alkaline type detergents) for man made fabrics.
  6. Indian-Haitian cotton detergent (acid type detergent) for more natural fabrics.
  7. Textile Rinse to remove detergent residue.
  8. Leather Cleaner & Conditioner
  9. White Terry Towelling
  10. Cotton Velvet Brush
  11. Turbo Dryer or Hair Dryer for fast drying
  12. Ground sheet to protect flooring from spillages
  13. Fabricoat protector, often applied to upholstery and additional service.
  14. Professional Spotting Kit


Background Information

Upholstery cleaning within the professional ranks has always been a controversial subject. Whether a professional cleans upholstery or does not clean upholstery has been influenced by either knowledge or fear. The emotion of fear would arise from either his own costly experiences or the problems he heard he would incur. The knowledgeable professional who is cleaning upholstery successfully has either been trained or has learned that there are certain things he must do and certain things he cannot do.


In these pages we will show you how you can now become skilled in the art of upholstery cleaning by using modern equipment and the latest safe chemical system developed by our associates in USA and tested by Cleancare under local conditions.








Testing for Colourfastness and Stains Specific to Upholstery

While upholstery cleaning is a natural add-on for carpet cleaning, there are very different cleaning methods and staining patterns to learn. Many of the differences can be attributed to the material make up of the upholstery as well as the nature of the relationship between humans and furniture. Problems particular to upholstery include human generated stains, such as perspiration and nature oils. Stains that tend to be particular to upholstery include; Oily soils, furniture is exposed to a higher degree of human and animal body oils. In many cases, furniture pre-conditioners are blends of solvents and moderate pH detergents. Unlike traffic lane cleaners, upholstery pre-conditioner has a lower, safer pH, with a higher solvent content to break down body oils. Perspiration stains are difficult to remove and may damage many fibre types. Perspiration causes fabrics to turn yellowish brown and contains proteins that may require enzymes for complete removal. The salts in perspiration can damage silk and weaken other fibres. Best results come with the use of oxidising agents, enzymes, and/or aggressive furniture preconditioning formulas. Make sure to test these products and inform your customer that permanent staining or colour loss may have already occurred.

Makeup also has a tendency to appear more on upholstery than on carpeting. Most cosmetics, including eyeliner, eye shadow, lipstick and nail polish, need to be removed with spotters. Solvent spotters may damage back coatings on fabric, so be sure to inspect and test carefully before you begin any spotting procedures. When working with problems unique to upholstery, as with any upholstery stain, it is always important to test for colourfastness in the material. Cleaning solutions can loosen the bond between the fabric and the dyes, which were used to colour the fabric, which can be a nightmare for the cleaner if not checked before the process.

Natural fibres, such as cotton, linen and rayon, which have a tendency to be absorbent, are most likely to experience bleeding.

Be sure to properly pre-inspect fabric for dye fastness. Apply the chemical solution as you intend to use it to an inconspicuous area, and allow it to dry completely: Apply a ready-to-use cleaning solution to the back of a cushion near the zipper or to the back skirt. Allow the solution to penetrate and to dry unassisted for a minimum of 10 minutes to allow it to loosen the dyes if likely.

After waiting the 10 minutes, firmly place, without rubbing, a clean, dry, white terry cloth towel against the fabric and hold for 10 to 15 seconds. This will allow the moisture in the cleaning solution to move from the wet fabric into the dry towel. As the solution migrates, it will carry and loosened dye with it and this can be observed on the towel.

Any problems or potential problems discovered during inspection and testing need to be documented and pointed out to the customer before beginning service.



To avoid problems, inspect and record carefully before cleaning. Be a detective and look to see which are your customers problems before they become your problems. Use a condition report before cleaning, discuss potential problem areas with your customer, such as extremely soiled and worn areas which may break down after cleaning.






As a professional, you should refer to and describe the different parts of the upholstered furniture so that customers will have more confidence on your ability to perform the proper job.



Some words that should never used are “bleach or strip” say sour instead. Never “scrub” the furniture – clean it. Never say “acid” – say neutralise it. And finally furniture is never “dirty” – it is soiled.



Some spills are stains and not completely removable. You may lighten them, but complete removal is not always possible. When oils or dye absorb into the fibre or actual damage takes place, there is little you can do other than call a upholsterer. Although some stains may be permanent, it’s always worth at least two tries at removal. Refer to Cleancare’s guide for removal of spots and stains Cleancare’s Rescue Kit Stain Removal Procedure.



  1. Always vacuum furniture thoroughly before wet cleaning
  2. Pre-Spray upholstery thoroughly before cleaning heavily soiled areas using an accepted upholstery pre-spray such as Heavy Duty Soil Lifter (see brochure for further information and use instructions)
  3. When cleaning buttons, use a white towel wetted with cleaning solution. Avoid getting moisture under buttons, Plastic with slit cut can be placed under button to prevent rust or other stains after cleaning.
  4. When vacuuming wetted fabric, allow the upholstery tool to lift the fabric so that the air will circulate through it.
  5. Many problems can be eliminated by fast drying the fabric – use a Turbo Dryer – fan or hair dryer.