A long time client called us in an absolute panic after just spilling an entire protein shake (chocolate) on her sofa. Doing the right thing she called us right away, and did not waste time. She also did not try any cleaning herself, realizing she might make it worse. We talked and said time was of the essence. We discussed the emergency, and she wasted no time. Turns out she passes us on her way to work, so she dropped the affected cushion off not but an hour later. And, she also scheduled a regular appointment the following week to clean the entire sofa and some carpets.
Our fingers were crossed for sure once we heard the problem, and the picture she texted us validated our fears. It might be a challenge even for a seasoned professional (frankly as is true with washing clothing, some things are beyond cleaning even for the best of us). After seeing the picture, there was no question not only are fingers’ crossed we are also saying in a twisted fit we needed to throw a Hail’ Mary too!
Right out of the gate, upholstered fabrics are more similar to fine clothing than easily washed machine items. Just as how you clean men’s suits or women’s fine clothing and dresses, you don’t launder them in the washer. They are cared for in a controlled process where the cleaning agents won’t damage them. There is much more hands on treatment by trained professionals. This too is the case for upholstery.
So let’s talk fiber content. You have synthetics that hold up well and wash easily. Then you have cotton, wool, silk, rayon and other fabrics, which are trickier to deal with. If the sofa is the latter than our shot at cleaning successfully is highly limited. If it is synthetic it is more forgiving, but still there can be residual issues.
If you dial down what goes into a chocolate product it is known that there is red dye added for color. Just as any red dye spill, some comes out, then some may not. Also, there likely may be a butter or oil ingredient that can leave a grease mark that won’t come out. Thirdly, minerals added for nutrition also complicate the process.
In this case you have all three strikes working against the situation. As it turns out it was a synthetic fiber, so much of the spill will probably, and did rinse out. Had it been cotton or wool, a different story. Secondly, there is a residual oil mark which defines the strike point of the spill as well. But overall, the chocolate with the dye and mineral posed little threat, and the cushion no longer looks like a target practice. Now you see it, now you mostly don’t.
First off, a pre-spot solution was applied to the spot on the cushion. Then an upholstery shampoo was mixed so it was a foaming shampoo in a bucket. Then we used an upholstery hand shampoo mitt to gently work the shampoo in to the spot. Once allowed to “dwell time,” which is a moment to let the cleaning agents activate to attack and suspend the soils. we used a gentle misting tool to cleaning and rinse out the shampoo and the protein shake ingredients.
For the most part the sofa looks boat loads better now that we cleaned and rinsed it out. Is it perfect, no. But chances are with the lighting it is barely noticeable compared to where we started. The homeowner was happy that the disastrous spill was gone. After the cleaning we did recommend a protectant to be applied, which would also help fend off offenses from future foreign spills such as this.
Many fabrics don’t do well with cleaning, and there is a high probability that damage can be caused when trying to clean the spill out. For this reason upholstery cleaning is best left to a seasoned professional. And even then, some fabrics either won’t respond completely or other things can happen when cleaning is attempted. Avoid the cheapest upholstery cleaners, as they are either inexperienced or ill equipped and may cause damage. Quick response is key, calling right away for an appointment is suggested. Trying to clean yourself, well you might be very sorry.