Upholstery Cleaning Problems & Solutions, Ankeny, IA

Although upholstery cleaning is often necessary, there are several issues that may arise during the cleaning process.  Fortunately, there are solutions for these problems.  I’ve listed some of the most common issues here, and, although there may be other ways of correction, I’ve listed a simple solution for each.

1.   Watermarks:

Watermarks, also called “circling” or “rings” often appear around the area of a removed spot, often caused by residual soils or dissolved sizing.  Sizing is used to create stiffness in a fabric to keep it from puckering during seaming.  It’s usually clear but can appear brown if a fabric is dried unevenly. 


Watermark on upholstery


Solution:  It often just takes wetting evenly with distilled water to correct a watermark.  Distilled water will dissolve the sizing and other impurities and allow the fabric to dry evenly, erasing the watermark. 


2.  Bleeding:

Bleeding occurs when dyes in a fabric run or “bleed” onto surrounding fabric.  Bleeding can be hard to correct, but with the low-moisture systems and dye stabilizers used today it is less frequent.  


Bleeding has occurred under the flower


Solution:  Apply a little hydrogen peroxide to the affected area with a cotton swab.  I would stay away from chlorine bleach, as it can weaken, damage, or yellow your upholstery.  However, even with the use of hydrogen peroxide you may want to follow up with a neutralizing rinse to ensure your fabric is safe.


3.      Shrinkage:

Shrinkage is also not a huge problem today, with improved methods.  However, it can still happen with certain materials (like cotton or rayon-cotton mixes).


Solution:  A hand steamer is useful in this situation.  Just steam the fabric and pull it back into shape.  This is great for skirts of furniture.  If you have shrinkage of cushions it’s best to steam the fabric and stretch it over some sort of framing to re-stretch.


Example of a chair with a skirt


4.Cellulosic Browning:

Browning happens when fabrics with cellulose fibers get too wet and dry too slowly.  This is more common on very dirty areas where it takes several cleanings to get the spots out.  This is caused by a natural substance, called lignin, present in cotton, linen, and jute fabrics, all having cellulosic fibers.  When it gets dissolved by too much water it will wick its way up the fibers, causing reddish-brown areas to appear.  The best way to prevent browning is to suck up all water as thoroughly as possible and make sure you run an air mover over the surface for quick drying.  If browning still occurs, you’ll want to take the furniture to your own location, if possible, for correction, as it may take several treatments to get the browning out.


You can purchase Haitian Cotton Upholstery Shampoo from Chemspec and other chemical maunufacturers.


Solution:  Always rinse detergents out of the fabric after cleaning, as some detergents, with high ph levels, will yellow the fabric if not rinsed well.   To remove browning you will need to rinse the fabric with a neutralizing agent/acidic rinse for upholstery.  This will often remove lighter browning.  If browning is more severe you may need to clean the item again using a shampoo made especially for these types of cellulosic fabrics, such as Haitian Cotton Upholstery Shampoo.  This will usually work on more severe areas.



A last bit of advice:  Make sure your customer knows the risks related to a cleaning before you take on a job.  Although rare, there may be certain issues that cannot be corrected, and you’ll want to be covered in case of such an occurrence.


Call Steamway Craftsmen Cleaning Services at 1-800-798-7677 in the Ankeny, Iowa area for all your upholstery and carpet cleaning needs.