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How does one clean wool upholstery?


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I'm ready to clean the wool upholstery in the back of my Packard. Help. I have no idea how to do this. I was hoping to borrow a friends upholstery cleaner, but since I'm doing wool, I have a feeling I may have to follow a different set of rules.

thanks.

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Would it be possible to mix up a Woolite solution for the upholstery machine? Maybe check with the machine manufacturer and see if they make a solution themselves to use on wool?

One thing I would be wary of is 70 year old fabric's tendency to water stain or streak. You don't want to get it sopping wet with the machine.

I tried to do some nylon brocade in a 65 Olds some years ago with my Bissell Little Green Machine. The stuff was bad about water staining under normal circumstances and I was hoping the cleaner would even those out. Ended up looking like 70s disco era striped upholstery.:mad:

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West,

I asked that same question years ago, and was told to make a soapy solution with lots of suds. Woolite is probably a good choice. Then leave the water alone, but just take the sudsy bubbles and brush, or scrub with a nappy cloth - do not soak with the soapy water. Use a wet-dry vacuum to remove the worked-in foam, together with the dirt. Let it air-dry.

Try it out on the side or back of the material (or even a junk car) to see how it works.

Let us know how it comes out.

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  • 3 months later...
I'm ready to clean the wool upholstery in the back of my Packard. Help. I have no idea how to do this. I was hoping to borrow a friends upholstery cleaner, but since I'm doing wool, I have a feeling I may have to follow a different set of rules.

thanks.

You have to do it in a way where it isn't Baa-aaa-aaa-aaa-ahd to the material:D:D

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I suggest you contact a dry cleaner - find out if they have a person with credentials in the Fabric Association if you can. The typical man's suit is of similar material. Let us know how this goes - I have a similar project down the road

As to the nylon - the material readily absorbs water (as you found out). The plastic has to be dried before processing.

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  • 5 years later...

When I worked in a GM dealership back in the 60's we used exactly the method Marty Roth said. The trimmer had about a cup of water in the pail and about five gallons of suds.  The upholstery never really got wet.  Always worked.  I suppose there was a certain amount of technique involved but it surely looked simple, not necessarily easy.

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Some good suggestions have been posted. My only attempt at cleaning some wool broadcloth several years ago was a dismal failure because I got it too damp. The grease stain came out ..... only to be replaced by a water spot ring that was larger than the original stain.:(

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7 hours ago, trimacar said:

Hmmm....Marty, do you remember who you asked that question of?  Just curious.....

 

David, that was 5-1/2 years ago...

 

I think that counts as short-term memory, as I recall 35 years back much better. (LOL).

 

Actually, no - at the moment I do not recall who, but do remember the method as I've used it on a couple of older pieces of furniture some years back

 

Sorry

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9 hours ago, 31 Caddy said:

I just realized how old the original post is. Oh well, West, its been almost 6 years..... probably time to clean it again, lol.

Perhaps. I did use soap and water. And I probably got it more damp than I should have. However, I made sure I got the whole panel or seat damp equally, which reduces the chances of getting a "ring" stain from the water. It looks a lot better.

 

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Years ago  a friend of my had a Cadillac Model 75 limo cleaned by a ServiceMaster branch and I remember how impressed he was with the job and the professionalism. It's an old company with an interesting philosophy. They even wrote a book about the corporation. I have never used them, but I would consider them.

Bernie

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There is company in Canada called Roto Static . They sell a clear spray product for upholstery and it is good for wool also . I have used their Carpet cleaning products and they work fine with no staining or soap residue left over .

 

http://www.rotostatic.com/products-stain.php

Edited by Mark Gregory (see edit history)
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On ‎9‎/‎27‎/‎2010 at 9:38 AM, bkazmer said:

I suggest you contact a dry cleaner - find out if they have a person with credentials in the Fabric Association if you can. The typical man's suit is of similar material. Let us know how this goes - I have a similar project down the road

As to the nylon - the material readily absorbs water (as you found out). The plastic has to be dried before processing.

Especially because of age you have to really be careful and Rocketrader's is a perfect example of what can happen even to wool. I would contact a dry cleaner and see if he can do the job for you. If he was willing I would give him a inconspicuous piece first and if it turns out go ahead and  remove the seats disassemble the seat backs and remove the door panels and give the hole thing to him.

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  • 2 years later...

I’ve got the same problem of greasy dirt stain on light brown wool broadcloth. 

After reading the responses here, why couldn’t you just remove the upholstery (this is on a seat cushion) and wash it in Woollite like you would a wool sweater? 

Or what am I missing? 

Will the wool broadcloth shrink and not fit again?

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That's quite possible; also, removing old upholstery could not be as easy as it seems - some places may be glued, also you risk tearing the cloth. The thread can be weak, and got destroyd in washing maschine.  The covers may consist of few types of fabric - one could shrink more, another may shrink less. (That's the reason why You can wash suit's trousers in water, but You can not wash the vest or jacket.) If you still decide to do it, handwash in about 20 degrees - especially warm, but sometimes very cold water can cause shrinking. Don't let them dry completly - put them back partially wet.

Recently, I cleaned light brown wool upholstery in '53 Benz, some places were even stained with motor oil. At first, I used typical carpet cleaning solution (Vanish or sth) and washing vacuum cleaner. It removed most of the dirt. At second - washing powder dissolved in some warm water, sponge and a rice brush. Then - car cleaning foam, "Prestone" seems to be the best. Then - clean water, about two or three times.

What's important, You should avoid soaking the whole seat. The springs & other internal, metal parts of seats are probably rusted so it can end with removing the dirt, but adding rusty marks on upholstery.

 

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As a trimmer who's been asked this question a few times, I'd say that "just remove the upholstery" sounds optimistic.  You'd have to disassemble the seat, undo the sewing on each end of the pleats, remove the padding, clean, and then get it all back together again.  Lots of work, and in the end you'd find you'd do more damage than good as you disturbed rotted cotton thread and such.

 

Dry cleaners use chemicals in enclosed tumblers, I'm not sure it would be good for your health to use the same chemicals in the enclosed sedan....it's not really "dry cleaning", and in searching for chemical used I love the last sentence in the description:

 

"Perchloroethylene (PCE, or tetrachloroethylene) has been in use since the 1930s. PCE is the most common solvent, the "standard" for cleaning performance. It is a most effective cleaning solvent. It is thermally stable, recyclable, and has low toxicity. It can, however, cause color bleeding/loss, especially at higher temperatures. In some cases it may damage special trims, buttons, and beads on some garments. It is better for oil-based stains (which account for about 10% of stains) than more common water-soluble stains (coffee, wine, blood, etc.). The toxicity of tetrachloroethylene "is moderate to low" and "Reports of human injury are uncommon despite its wide usage in dry cleaning and degreasing"."

 

I answered Marty long ago, as he states, just use the suds and clean cotton cloths, don't get the wool very wet just damp to try to clean,  and patience.  My sister says that they have patience for sale on Amazon, but I can't seem to find the link.  My numerous doctors seem to have a lot of patients, but that's a different story....

 

 

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We have a product over here called vanish foam , carpets and upholstery  similar method of use as described for suds , except easier as constant dampness and no excessive wetting , therefore  just vacuum foam off , let dry naturally, great results . Probably available in States to.

Edited by Pilgrim65 (see edit history)
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I have been using the Scotchguard Oxy spray for a few years now and have recommended it to friends who know where I live.

image.png.aec109236c218ab66b2e750289e4a608.png

 

It is good for spot cleaning. I started using it on slightly soiled seat belts. Then I was able to remove a cuple of grease spots on those slow retracting GM belts that get door lubricant on them.

Most recently I had two spots on the Alcantara headliner material of the BMW that were in a highly visible location, on the windshield post where "I" see it all the time. I was real nervous about that one; came right off, looks perfect.

Bernie

 

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My years in the apparel business taught me a couple of tips that I'll share with you. First, use distilled water with your soap or detergent product to make your foam. Distilled water is inexpensive and it's lack of minerals makes it a lot less likely to leave water rings. Second, have a hair dryer handy. If you get too much water in one spot, play the hair dryer on the spot from a safe distance and gently sweep the spot, from the outside in towards the center, with a clean, soft towel. When it comes to grease spots, I've had good luck with GoJo (the creamy kind, not the one with pumice or orange). In fact the little tubs that GoJo comes in suggest using it on laundry. Of course on wool, you'll have to rinse it out with water. Use a shop vac to draw out the excess GoJo and water and then finish with the hair dryer. It really can get the water out without leaving a stain. I've had luck with these methods even on silks.  One last thing -- I've had great luck spot cleaning car upholstery and door panels with Brakleen. I just spray it on a soft, clean colorfast rag ( I use white t-shirt rags). You don't have to get the rag wet. In fact, it's probably better if you don't. It probably has real risks, but I've used Brakleen on a lot of things -- you guys probably know how much the stuff smells like a dry cleaners.

Edited by Hudsy Wudsy (see edit history)
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I just remembered a product that I used once in a while long ago. It was sort of an unusual cream in a tube called Texsize  K2R. I don't recall the details of the instructions, but, you applied the cream to a spot and then applied steam, like from a steam iron, to the spot. The interesting thing about it is that after you applied the steam, you could smell turpentine. I think that the cream had turpentine encapsulated in it. The force of the steam would expel the cleaner, and hopefully the stain, through the fabric and out the other side. It worked differently from other methods because instead of extracting the cleaner and stain, you blew it through the fabric. Remember, these are just things that have worked for me in the past, and they don't come with any guarantees. Over the years, we had to write off plenty of stock and donate it to charity. It hurt, but it was just a cost of doing business.

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