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Upholstery Cleaning: What to Inspect First
Any problems that might occur due to preexisting conditions should be noted on the work order and signed by the customer. Any limitations should be mentioned as limitations to the fabric, not limitations to your skill. Your choice of cleaning method should remove as much soil as possible without changing the color or the texture of the fabric.

Age: Helps determine value. Also, older furniture may have potential problems not found in newer goods.

Physical condition:
Is the fabric ripped, frayed, missing buttons, showing damage to wood trim, etc.?

Are ink marks present on the foam or fabric itself? Is the cushion foam yellowed and crumbling? Is the back coating deteriorated, discolored or soluble to your cleaning compound? 

Check for damage to welt cords and other fabric. Also, if your customer has washed cushions in the washing machine, explain that the body may not match the cushions when you are done! Warn your customer that this practice may damage the fabric’s back coatings or cause shrinkage.

Color condition:
Check for areas of preexisting color loss or dye bleeding. Could heavy soiling be obscuring areas that might otherwise reveal color loss?

Texture/finish damage:
If polished cotton, could heavy soiling and usage have removed the “glaze”? On velvets, check for texture damage and/or pile fiber loss (especially with flocked velvet). Evidence of preexisting shrinkage: Have the skirts curled or rippled, fabric split, seams pulled apart, etc.?

Heavy soil areas:
Could color loss, fabric damage or “glaze or polish” loss become noticeable if soil removal is attempted?

Water stains:
These are rarely removable; make no promises!

Animal stains: Removal is variable according to age and fabric and note that contact with moisture during and after cleaning could increase odors.

Ink stains: Ink may be challenging to remove from fabric and may require solvent-based spotters, water-based spotters, or may be insoluble and “spread” when spotting is attempted. When you're ready to clean, we recommend Chemspec Ink Exit.

Oily, petroleum or cosmetic stains:
Solvent-based spotters may damage fabric back coatings. Chemspec Ink Exit is also excellent for this application.

Graphite lubricant:
Lubricants used for the swivels and other mechanisms on office furniture can be difficult to remove. A high quality volatile solvent spotter is the preferred spotting product for this problem. We recommend Prochem Power Solvent.
Excerpted from Restoration Science Academy’s Complete Guide to Cleaning and Restoration, a compilation of all ASD classroom course materials, including water damage restoration, fire and smoke restoration, odor control, microbial remediation, trauma scene cleanup, upholstery and fabric cleaning, and carpet cleaning. Authors: Gary Funari, Gary Loiben, and William Weigand. Technical Review: Mitchell Byrom, Mark Cornelius, Mike Kerner, and David Oakes.