Upholstery Cleaning


Upholstery cleaning is, often, the 1st “add-on” opportunity, for carpet cleaners, in a home.

Many carpet cleaners, who have had a few bad experiences, won’t do upholstered furniture, anymore. The obvious problem is, losing customers to someone who does.

Many carpet cleaners feel trapped. They’d rather not do upholstered furniture, but feel they have to. They clean easier, less demanding fabrics, like polypropylene. These, unfortunately, are not the money makers.

I had 20 upholstey technicians who were all good at it. They followed simple guidelines that took away the “fear of upholstery cleaning.”


Learn to Identify Fiber When fiber is burned, a soft, crumbly ash; is natural. A hard ball; is synthetic. Natural fiber can cause more problems than synthetic…..if you let it. You want to progress to identifying many fabrics and know the pros and cons of each, but just knowing if it’s natural or synthetic, is a great start.


Natural Fiber Natural fiber (fiber is the thread that becomes fabric, after weaving) usually costs more than synthetic. When a cleaner mentions potential bleeding problems they’ll often hear, “The money I paid for this couch, it better not bleed!” The more expensive, the more likely it’s a natural fiber, with possible problems.

  1. Natural fiber is absorbent and can take time to dry. Longer drying time, more chance for bleeding, yellowing, browning or shrinking.
  2. Use as little moisture as possible. A good fabric tool wets the fabric, not the cushion underneath.
  3. Dry fast. Air movers. Don’t allow problems to happen. Bleeding, often, happens just before the fabric is totally dry. Fast drying might prevent a problem that could happen.
  4. Our general rule of thumb (nothing scientific) was a fan for each piece cleaned and another to dry the cushions.
  5. Test for dye bleeding. Hold a white towel, with the cleaner solution, on the fabric, for a minute, or so, and see if color is on the towel. Test by the zipper or skirt, where it won’t show.
  6. NOTE: The older the fabric, the greater chance it will bleed. Previous clean procedures could affect the dye.

ALSO, wear can cause fiber to weaken and and have less hold on dye. You may want to test with Q-Tips on the center of a cushion, being careful to keep the moisture within the area of each color.


In 28 years, working on thousands of couches, I found two that bled. The odds are, your couch is not going to bleed, but a $6,000 love seat….you going to risk it? That’s your decision.


    General Rule of Thumb Alkaline tends to loosen dye, acids tend to help stabilize      it………..maybe.

Now, we have the advantage of dye stabilizers, such as, Bridgepoint Dye Lock and Fabric Protectors that have Dye Lock in them.

Great idea!


If you are unsure, attend an IICRC approved class. There can be real money doing upholstery cleaning others won’t do and…you don’t have to be afraid.

Set up guidelines and procedures.





        Dennis Klager














Copyright 2012 by Dennis Klager