Blog Upholstery Cleaning

Different Fabrics Used For Upholstery and How to Clean Them

Upholstery cleaning and maintenance is a specialised job. Different fabrics need different treatment. Learn all about it.

There is hardly a home in Dubai that does not have a piece of upholstered furniture. The most common being sofa, recliner, chairs and stools. Though, we all love upholstered furniture, not many of us are aware of how to maintain it and keep it clean. Each different type of material requires different care and handling. Unless you are aware of exactly how to clean the upholstery on your furniture, it is advisable that you hire a professional upholstery cleaning service in Dubai.

Here lies another problem, unless you know exactly how the upholstery material is to be cleaned, you cannot supervise the cleaning service. So, you need to know the basics of upholstery cleaning and the treatment for different materials in order to have your furniture cleaned properly. But before you start learning about cleaning the upholstery, you need to know the various materials that are used to upholster furniture. The range is mind boggling and you need to be aware of the fabric of your particular upholstery to know exactly what method of cleaning would be most suitable. So let us talk upholstery material.

Types of Material Used For Upholstery

As discussed above, there are many different types of material that is used for creating the fabrics that are used for upholstery. They can range from natural fibres to mixed fibres to synthetic ones. The fabric can be thick or thin, can be piled or plush, can be printed or woven into patterns, can be of plant or animal origin. Well, you get the drift. There are literally hundreds of types of materials used and each one is completely unique and needs care to maintain.

Natural Material

Fabrics that are made from materials sourced from nature are called natural fabrics. The source may be either plant or animal. We can categorize natural fabrics into three groups based on the source of their components.

Plant Based Fabrics

These are fabrics that are derived from plants. Some part or the other of the plant is used to create these fabrics. They include:

Cotton: The cotton fibre yields a tough and breathable fabric that wears well over the years. But it is prone to attracting dirt and grime and 100% pure cotton fabric is rarely used for upholstering. It is generally used as a blended fabric. Cotton fabric comes in all weights and thickness. From soft sheer muslins that are completely useless for upholstering to thick tough weaves that can even be used as floor coverings.

Linen: Though Linen looks great, again much like cotton it wrinkles and soils very easily. It is also prone to shrinkage and wears easily. Despite all this, it is a great fabric for upholstery as it does not fade or pile easily. Linen too, like cotton comes in many weights and thickness.

Jute: Jute is a very tough and hardwearing fabric that has recently become quite a rage as an upholstery material. It combines the goodness of cotton and linen and durability of synthetic fibre. It is a rough textured material that can be woven into patterns and dyed into many different colours. It does not pile and unlike cotton or linen is more resistant to dirt and soiling.

Animal Based Fabric

These fibres are derived from animal sources and are natural fabrics. These include:

Silk: Some of the most expensive and luxurious upholstery is made with silk. Its soft glossy finish makes it a top choice for luxury furniture. It is a delicate fabric and needs extra care to maintain it. It comes in many different weights and thickness but is best when blended with cotton or synthetic fibre. This blended fabric is more durable and heavyweight. It is prone to quick wear and also fading if placed in a space where there is a lot of sunlight.

Wool: wool can be from many different sources and can vary in quality and thickness. It makes a very durable and hard wearing fabric but again attracts dirt and grime. It needs regular care to keep it looking nice. Woollen fabric comes in a variety of thickness and weight. But the best ones are again blended fabrics.

Leather: Pure leather furniture is some of the most expensive furniture you can buy. Leather is a great fabric for upholstery as not only does it look great, it is water and moisture resistant and has a luxurious look to it. It comes in many different types and textures. The leather upholstery can vary in type and quality and the price is dependent on these two factors. Leather is available in Full-grain, which is the most expensive and thick leather; Top-Grain, which is slightly inferior to full-grain; Corrected-grain which is treated leather which had imperfections that had to be removed, Split leather this is the cheapest quality of leather and often the top layer is made of a artificial surface that has been laminated on top of a hide.

Synthetic Fabrics

Synthetic fabrics are made with manmade fibres and polymers. They are generally cheaper and more hardwearing than natural fibres but do not give the same depth and beauty as one can achieve with a natural fabric. These are:

Faux Leather: this looks in essence like leather but is made with polyurethane. It is breathable fabric which is water and moisture resistant and wears well over a period of time. Good quality faux leather can look exactly real leather and works just as well.

Microfibre: This is a new kind of fabric that has come into use in recent years. It is a knitted fabric that has a lot of elasticity which makes is ideal for upholstery. It is hard wearing and durable as well as moisture resistant. Good microfiber can look and feel like suede leather. It is low cost and low maintenance material and comes in many different colours and prints.

Nylon: Though pure nylon fabric is rarely used for upholstering, but as fabrics go it is very very tough and hard wearing. It is water, dust and dirt resistant while being easy to clean and maintain. It is mostly used as a blend with silk, cotton or wool to create a tough and breathable fabric.

Olefin: This too is a manmade fabric made from plastic pellets that are melted and dyed and then drawn into fibres to create the fabric. This is a very tough fabric that is highly fade resistant due to fact that the dyes are baked into the fibres rather than being added over the top. It makes great fabric for upholstering outdoor furniture or where there is a lot of traffic. It is moisture, dust and oil resistant making it easy to clean and maintain.

Polyester: Again this manmade fibre is rarely used on its own. It is normally blended with a natural fibre to create blended fabrics. Polyester blends are tough and easy to maintain. The fabric is resistant to moisture and fading retaining its look for a long time. It also does not pile much and is dust and dirt repelling. Rayon: this fabric is known for its softness and glossy finish. It was created to emulate cotton or linen and is normally used for upholstery as a blended fabric. It blends well with cotton, silk and linen. It too is fade resistant and wears well.

Blended Fabrics

As mentioned above, you can see that blended fabrics provide the best utility. They give you the toughness and durability of synthetic fabrics and beauty comfort and breathability of natural fibres. These are also the most popular of all fabrics used for upholstery. They come in a variety of blends, textures, colours, weight and thickness and give the best value for money.

Other Fabrics

There are some other fabrics too that are used for upholstery. These include napped fabrics like chenille and piled ones like velvet. These fabrics can be made with natural fibres as well as synthetic ones. The synthetic napped and piled fibres provide better durability and maintenance than the natural ones.

Cleaning Directions for Upholstery Material

Unless you have got your furniture upholstered yourself, most shop bought upholstery has cleaning instructions that come with it. So before you call a upholstery cleaning service, look for tags containing cleaning instructions. These should be able to tell you what is required to clean and maintain your upholstery. When you hire a cleaning service in Dubai, you can show them the tags and then decide what kind of cleaning is appropriate for each piece of your furniture. Some fabrics require steam cleaning, others have to be dry cleaned and yet others are okay to wet cleaning, shampoo cleaning, etc.

The tags could be coded as follows: W or WS – these fabrics are good for wet cleaning as they are meant to be cleaned with water or water based solutions. You may attempt to clean these yourself. For a complete guide on how to do it, keep reading blogs, we will do a post soon on the topic. S – a tag with an S means that the upholstery needs dry cleaning only and this needs a professional upholstery cleaning service. Do not try to clean these yourself as you may damage the fabric. X – a tag that has an X is to be handled only by an expert professional upholstery cleaner. These fabrics need special treatment to clean and should not be handled by amateurs. These pieces of furniture will cost you a lot more to clean that the W/WS or S tagged furniture.

If you have any furniture that needs a professional upholstery cleaning service, you can trust to find the one that meets your requirements. They have a whole list of cleaning service in Dubai that you can browse through in the leisure of your home and pick one up that you feel fits your need the best.

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