Furniture cleaning is a specialty area where you can earn a higher hourly rate because it requires more knowledge and experience than does the normal carpet cleaning job. Upholstery Cleaning is not something to charge into blindly. The more information and education you have the more successful you will be. I highly recommend taking an IICRC Upholstery Cleaning Class. Pay attention to the details and cautions presented. Cleaning furniture appears to be simple but there are many fabrics and styles that must be cleaned in a specific way to avoid damage.

Now, lets look at a basic upholstery cleaning procedure.

Pre-inspect the upholstery carefully before beginning any cleaning procedure.  Careful inspection before cleaning will help you avoid accepting responsibility for prior damage. It will also enable you to make a profitable estimate.

  • Spots, Stains, and water marks.
  • Body oil, news print, and ink spots.
  • Shoe polish and foot marks on skirt.
  • Rust near buttons and tacked areas.
  • Markings inside cushions.
  • Color change from sun fade or bleach.
  • Color bleed (look closely around designs)
  • Wear, shrinkage, missing buttons, or nicks and scratches.
  • Weak or broken arms or legs.

This inspection has revealed that there is a panel pulling away from the frame. If you are competent to make a simple repair here you may want to add this service to your estimate. But at the very least you should list it as a preexisting condition on your estimate.

Notice how the sofa sits on the carpet. If the carpet is dirty soil will migrate from the carpet into the sofa and leave a stain very much like a water mark.

Before you begin to clean, set up your cleaning area to prevent damage to other furniture items.

Set furniture piece on clean protector sheet to keep cleaning solutions off the floor and prevent soil from the floor from wicking up into the furniture fabric.

If we clean each piece of furniture as though it were covered by cotton or silk, we will seldom, if ever, experience a significant problem.

Before you begin always test the fabric with the products you intend to use to make sure it is colorfast and that the products are suitable for the job at hand.

The Pro’s Choice 3-step cleaning procedure is designed to make upholstery cleaning easy and profitable for you.

Now let’s look at the process.

First vacuum the upholstery very thoroughly to remove all the dry dirt you can before wetting.

80% of the dry soil can be removed by very thorough vacuuming. If you clean without vacuuming you are asking for trouble and making work for yourself.


Next, set the dyes and stabilize the tannins in the fibers by applying CSS (Step 1) to all fabric surfaces.  Lightly brush to assure penetration of Color Stabilizer into fabric.

If the furniture has heavy oily soil (especially areas like armrests and headrests) pre-spray these areas with Pros Choice Citra Quick or OMS. Then brush lightly with soft furniture cleaning brush to assure penetration.

Next, apply Ultra TLC (Step 2) to all soiled surfaces. This is your primary cleaning step. Brush areas thoroughly yet gently to assure emulsification of the soils.

You can use a trigger sprayer or a pump sprayer with a low volume fan tip for this application.

Using a furniture tool which does not over-wet the fabric, extraction rinse away the soil and cleaning solution with Natural Fiber Cleaner (Step 3).

Work in sections (cushion, arm, back, etc..). Complete one section before moving to the next.

Give particular attention to areas where moisture could be trapped such as around buttons and cording. Carefully extract as much moisture as possible from these areas.

Groom pile on velvet and corduroy fabrics (left). It may not seem like a very important step but imagine washing your hair and not combing it.

Set cushions and pillows in a tee pee fashion on clean surface to facilitate rapid drying(Right). Caution DO NOT set cushions on sofa as color can bleed into the cushion from the sofa. If fans are used to speed dry upholstery make sure fans are spaced uniformly to ensure even drying. Water marks can be created by uneven drying techniques.

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