Cats and the Art of Cleaning Fabrics

This past weekend, my lovely wife’s new kitten decided to try out our sofa instead of the litter box much to our chagrin.  Since cats as a species lack opposable thumbs the job to cleaning fell to us.  After successfully spot cleaning the sofa, I figured it might be helpful to write a blog post regarding basic upholstery cleaning.  One of the most common questions asked when we sell upholstery is how to clean the items and the ever-vague answer is, it depends.  There are a variety of factors that dictate how the cleanup should be done, and below are the three most important factors.

1.        There is a cleaning code on your furniture.

The cleaning code found on the item’s manufacturers tag is located either under the cushion or underneath the item itself.  This will indicate what kind of cleaner to use.  For instance, if the cleaning code is W the cleaner should be water based, and if it is an S or D, the cleaner should be a dry-clean style solvent.  The reason is that water based cleaners can distort and bleed the colors on dry clean only materials.  Some materials are marked with WS meaning you can use either type of cleaner.  Now we know what the cleaning codes are and as they say, “knowing is half the battle,” or something similar.


2.       How do you clean it up?

Once the cleaning code is identified, the next step is to start cleaning up the effected area.  For dirt, food and such, the area should be gently brushed to remove the top layer of grime. Gentle is key so as not to push the soil into the fabric any further.  Think of an old timey archeologist brushing off sand and not Indiana Jones with a stick of dynamite. Light vacuuming may also be necessary.  The next stop is to take a clean cloth and blot the stain with the appropriate solution or soapy water.  Remember, when you blot the area constantly switch to a clean area on your cloth.  Not doing this can lead to accidentally reapplying the dirt you just removed.  Trust me, I have done this with an ink pen when I was not being careful which made things harder than necessary.  Blot gently as the cleaner should be doing most of the work.  Avoid any excessive scrubbing which can be bad for the material.  This method can be used to handle the vast majority of accidents, however for certain uniquely bad spills and the like, do some research or even call a professional. It less expensive to clean something correctly than ruin a nice piece of upholstery.  


3.       What should you be looking for in a fabric?

As technology progresses, textile companies are continually striving to invent tougher, more stain resistant fabrics.  At Blackstone Emporium we are proud to offer these materials on the vast majority of our frames.  You have probably heard some of the fabric brands including Sunbrella, Crypton, Revolution, and Lifeguard just to name a few.  They are all designed from the ground up to be superior fabrics that are easy to clean.  Murphy’s law states that anything that can happen will happen. Mistakes and accidents will and due occur.  When they do, it is good to know that your upholstery will hold up.  Performance fabrics are definitely well worth considering when purchasing new furniture if you are at all concerned about extreme wear and tear. 


Benjamin Winn,

Sales Associate, and assistant cat accident cleaner-upper

Blackstone Emporium