So did you create an upholstery cleaning problem?

Discussion in 'the CleAn Room' started by Mark Saiger, Apr 11, 2017.

  1. Cleanworks
    Cleanworks

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    I haven't used distilled water either. Jim, what is it about distilled water that makes it work? I once had a silk headboard that I probably could have used distilled water on. It was on a yacht and had been exposed to saltwater coming in from a open porthole. I eventually corrected it with multiple applications of neutral cleaner and browning treatment. Had to wet out the entire surface at once to avoid streaking.
  2. Jim Pemberton
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    Because distilled water has far fewer solids that tap water, it tends to do a better job at dissolving impurities which then will "spread out" in the wet areas and dry evenly, and invisibly.

    I just like distilled water alone first, as it doesn't introduce any chemistry into the fabric that could create other problems. After that, I often will just use white vinegar mixed 50/50 with distilled water. It stinks, but since there are no surfactants present, you get a solution that breaks down hard water residues (another cause of water marks) and light browning (if present), but doesn't leave a residue that you have to rinse out later.

    There are some times you'll still need to use tannin spotters that have detergents, reducing agents, or oxidizing agents. Its just that once you "go there", you now have to deal with potential texture changes, and with reducers and oxidizers, color changes.

    If there is anything that's changed about my approach to doing things in my training career, its this:

    As a cleaning product supplier, we often look first to products on our shelves to solve problems. As a trainer who is also a distributor, that tendency follows through into our training at times. Its not always wrong, but I have learned to have enough perspective to understand that not everything needs to be solved with something in my catalog.

    In some cases, as with water stains, its better not to, at least not first.
  3. Cleanworks
    Cleanworks

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    Thanks Jim. I will be adding distilled water to my arsenal. I do use vinegar often. Even though it smells, the odor dissipates fairly rapidly. Doesn't smell as bad as browning treatment. I have found that Allen's 10 percent vinegar works well
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  4. Jim Pemberton
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    Your customers likely are less concerned about a smell that they recognize (like vinegar) than one they don't (like the odor of some strong browning formulas). I'm not, of course, saying that there aren't plenty of times you need such products; I'm just saying that especially on fine fabrics with delicate textures and finishes, I like to start with the gentlest solutions first.

    And before its mentioned, even "grocery store products" have SDS documents:

    http://rosafoods.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/SDS-Vinegar12to30.pdf
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  5. Mark Saiger
    Mark Saiger

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    If that right there isn't worth the price of free admission here to this forum...I don't know what is! :)

    Thanks again Jim...didn't mean to make more work here for you and really appreciate all your sharing!
  6. Jim Pemberton
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    Not at all Mark. I see so much damage caused by good cleaners trying to save things by jumping into the use of strong reducers and bleaches that its good to get the word out there. Do you remember the character from Hill Street Blues, Phil Esterhaus?

    "Lets be careful out there...."

    I'm changing my avatar in honor of this thread.
  7. Nate The Great
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    I still believe if the cleaner cleaned the whole chair by wetting it out it wouldn't look so bad.. My mom was taught by Wally Webber to clean drapes and upholstery... Don't spot clean a spot, evenly wet out the entire piece so this type of thing doesn't happen..


    Thanks @Jim Pemberton for other solutions rather than jumping to the heavy guns first!
  8. Jim Pemberton
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    Absolutely true.

    One of the things that was going on in Wally's days (and still is to some extent) were fabric protection companies who paid cleaners to remove spots for warranty claims. Cleaners that just took out spots got into (and still can get into) big trouble by causing water marks, distortion, and otherwise unnoticable color changes.

    Wally was a good guy; our industry owes him a great deal.
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  9. Loren Egland
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    I saved this post by Jim a while back as I thought it was a good one that may come in handy to refer to:


    Great advice


    Mike, what obligates you to say you can fix something based on a picture? Leaving aside whether or not your schedule will allow it, you have to stop right there and say:


    "I can't tell you whether or not I can fix it without having the furniture available for thorough inspection and testing. Even with my ability to do both, stains of this nature on what appears to be a natural fiber are not always removable and I won't know until I try a few things, all of which will be charged for because they involve time, material, and my best people".


    "In my attempts to correct this, the fabric may become whiter, may weaken and split, or experience texture distortion. I'll be asking you to sign off that you won't hold me responsible for any of this potential damage, though I will do all that I can to avoid that happening.


    "If you have other alternatives, you might want to exercise those instead. Otherwise, I need $xxx.xx whether or not the outcome is successful."


    I know those seem like hard words in an industry where we offer "satisfaction guarantees". The issue here is you cannot offer that type of guarantee on a delicate fabric that has been exposed to GKW ("God Knows What") can be damaged by the steps you'll take to attempt to fix it.


    You'll ultimately need something with sodium percarbonate in the formula, which will begin to weaken the fabric. Strong direct applications of peroxide will surely weaken it worse, plus both may cause it to become more bleached in appearance.


    Very little good will come from trying to do this without some strong guarantees from you customer that they will pay you and not hold you liable, and no guarantees from you, outside of the fact that you'll try to do your best to restore it without damaging it, but can guarantee neither.
  10. billyeadon
    billyeadon

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    Here is the simple truth: If you want to learn really learn fabric take Jim's class. If you want to learn water damage or repair take Barry Costas classes.

    And as Jim quoted Phile Esterhaus I will quote him also "Let's roll....."
  11. roro
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    Thank you very much for such a clear explanation Jim. We buy in glacial and dilute for use in our rug cleaning but hadn't thought of using it on upholstery
    roro
  12. icleancarpetz
    icleancarpetz

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    Jim or others…

    Silly question but does distilled water lose its effect with time? Does it have a shelf life?
    Keeping it in the truck in hot summer days or cold winter days effect it's gentle strength?
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  13. Jim Pemberton
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    That's not at all a silly question. Distilled water is "hungry" for solids, and if you were using it for scientific or dietary purposes, you might not want to keep it in plastic, as it will take on some of the chemistry from the plastic. For those uses, glass is better.

    For your purposes, plastic is fine. Just don't put it in a sprayer you use for other purposes. Use a clean sprayer (really clean, or start new) that is only for distilled water. All plastic, nothing metal.
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  14. icleancarpetz
    icleancarpetz

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    Thank you. For optimization, I'll store in a glass sprayer.
    In the olden days from talking to an Ole Timer cleaner coach/friend (Rodney), glass spray bottles were used back then.
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  15. darcie smith
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    If any of you come to a class at Pemberton's, let me know. We're further than you'd want to drive each day to go to class, but we could meet you for dinner :) No, Marty, i don't mean I'll cook it.
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  16. hogjowl
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    How often do you change the sheets?
    If you go more than once a week, no thanks!
  17. darcie smith
    darcie smith

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    If I don't change the sheets often enough I can't meet you somewhere for dinner? I'm so confused...
  18. Jim Pemberton
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    Marty has been attending the Mikey School of Cryptic Comments (MSCC). You're a reader: Its like interpreting the Oracle at Delphi...
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  19. icleancarpetz
    icleancarpetz

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    More Like reading the lost scrolls…they were lost for a reason. :headscratch::headscratch:
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  20. SamIam
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    Husband got two free chairs o'boy!

    Wife needed a good explaining that her free chairs were damaged goods and not to expect a miracle.

    IMG_2596.JPG IMG_2598.JPG IMG_2599.JPG IMG_2600.JPG IMG_2601.JPG IMG_2605.JPG


    The last picture shows the one on left cleaned one in right pre sprayed awaiting rinse.

    Mixed chemspec rust remover 50/50 for the rusty buttons, presprayed with Cobbs upholstery prespray with a splash of brightner. Rinsed with last step and a couple scoops of natural fiber cleaner.

    Used upholstery pro tool, looked 90% better with some permanent staining.

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