Upholstery: manage the risk, reap the reward
Fancy cleaning this? No? Read on … there’s profit to be had.
Most cleaning contractors clean carpets. It’s thought to be pretty straight forward and easy to do.
Of course, there are hidden dangers: shrinkage, coloured dyes that can run, browning, stretching.
However, you could clean many carpets without anything actually going wrong. It’s a numbers game – one day, you may be unlucky and actually shrink a carpet and have to shell-out for a replacement to the client.
A sofa set is often one of the largest cash outlays to any household, along with a new car, kitchen or bathroom. Indeed, a domestic three-piece suite is, on average, more expensive to buy than the carpet it is standing on.
Some cleaners give fabrics and upholstery a wide berth on the basis they can be risky to treat.
But that means the rewards are correspondingly higher if you are prepared to add them to your service offer.
Cleaning upholstery is easier than people think and can be more profitable than cleaning carpets. Depending on your charges, it is often accepted that cleaning two three-piece suites a day can be more profitable than cleaning three or four full house carpets.
More manageable, too: you are often staying in one area and not getting all hot and sweaty running around as you would with carpets.
First things first: going into upholstery cleaning is not just a case of exchanging the carpet cleaning wand for a hand tool and “going-for-it”.
Types of fabric you could encounter
Fabrics used on upholstery can change and vary regularly perhaps more than carpet types and they present a range of potential issues for the unwary cleaner.
Many fabrics contain delicate “floating yarns” (or what looks like guitar strings across the weave) and if they are cleaned roughly or plucked, they may catch and pull, damaging the fabric.
There being many more natural fibres used in upholstery manufacture, unstable dyes, shrinkage issues and more may emerge if the fabric is mis-cleaned.
Most fabrics are wet cleanable (cleaned with water-based products) though there is a small group of fabrics that should only be dry cleaned (cleaned with a blended solvent).
The chances of cleaning a three-piece suite without even using a wet extraction machine are high, but often the client wants to see some sort of machinery, as they think that is always the way it is done.
Low moisture cleaning
Low moisture methods can include spray and absorb with products such as B107 Prespray Gold or B108 Fabric Restorer and a gentle towel off to absorb the released soil, similar but with B137 Fine Fabric Solvent Cleaner for dry clean only fabrics.
Cleaning with foam
If the soil levels are deeper or more visible, then B105 Fibre Shampoo can be used with a sponge or your extraction machine for deep cleaning if required and with a focused selection of cleaning detergents. Often upholstery detergent options are less alkaline and more neutral than when cleaning carpets, due to the natural fabric/fibres involved.
Having attended Prochem upholstery training courses, one thing cleaners duly understand is the need for, and the benefit of, carrying out pre-cleaning tests.
It’s good to know how to manage the risk of the cleaning task in hand. If carried out in conjunction with a correct, professional survey, a better, more focused task and therefore accurate quote can be given to the client, prior to the cleaning job.
On carpets, there are essentially three pre-cleaning tests that the industry recommends – fibre/burn test, dye bleed test and the float test. Once these are done, the operator is fully aware of potential risks and can make a judgement on how to carry out the task.
On upholstery and fabric cleaning there are a few more tests available to the operator to be aware of.
Testing for colour fastness
So, add to that list a tensile strength test (to determine the fibres strength when wetted), a shrinkage test (to determine if the fabrics will shrink or pucker), a distortion test (to discover if a pile fabric should be dry cleaned or can be wet cleaned), and a swealing test (to eliminate possible browning/water marking when cleaned).
These risk management, pre-cleaning tests only take a matter of minutes to carry out so don’t think you’ll be testing all day.
And if you already test your carpets prior to cleaning, you will know the client’s response to seeing you do it. They are impressed: “no-one has ever done that before” is a regular comment.
Still seems like hard work?
OK – so, you are on site and all’s going well cleaning the client’s house carpet, when they suddenly ask to be given a price to clean the upholstery suite, too.
Just watch their faces when you say you can’t or don’t want to clean it.
They may just contemplate employing an operator that could do both next time …and you’ve just lost a customer.
Attending a one-day upholstery cleaning course with Prochem means added knowledge and confidence not only to clean sofas, but also mattresses, curtains, fabric dividers in offices or any other fabric surface. As a result of the extra skills you will be able to offer, think of the potential growth to your business that this added service will bring.
Call 0208 974 1515 to book a place on a One-day Upholstery Course and for more details or to book online visit www.prochem-uk.com