Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dry Cleaning Upholstery

I have a fabric that has a label stating "Dry-Clean Only.”
The fact is that very few fabrics actually require dry cleaning.
     The goal of voluntary care labeling of furniture is laudable, however very few tags that recommend “dry cleaning only” reflect a true need for that type of cleaning. Contrary to the manufacturer’s label guidelines, most fabrics clean easily and safely with water-based cleaning solutions performed by qualified professional upholstery cleaners. My suspicion is that by putting “Dry Clean Only” on the furniture, the manufacturer removes the chance of a homeowner trying to clean it themselves, creating problems and then coming after the manufacturer to fix the problem.
     The reasons that fabrics may require dry cleaning are: Colorfastness, texture change, dimensional stability, or finish damage. However, a qualified professional upholstery cleaner should be able to identify when dry cleaning is necessary.
     The reality is dry cleaning with solvents will never clean a fabric as well as water-based methods of cleaning. The reason is that water-based solutions are most effective when removing water-based spills, but dry cleaning solvents are only effective on oily soils and spots. Most furniture, when subjected to “normal use”, is exposed to more water-based soils and spills than ones that are oily in nature. Also, oils from skin, hair and animals are removed more efficiently with a water based cleaning utilizing the appropriate preconditioning agents.
      If dry cleaning is required: The use of dry cleaning solvents present both health and fire hazards. Therefore, organic vapor respirators, solvent-resistant gloves and aprons, and protective eyewear are required to do the work. The work area must have adequate ventilation to remove the fumes, and under no circumstances should building occupants or pets be anywhere in or around the rooms where this cleaning is being done.

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