This is the second part of a four-part article about the multiple uses of carpet care equipment.

Aside from carpet cleaning, one of the most common uses for carpet extractors is upholstery cleaning. Upholstery consists of soft material, such as fabric or padding, that will absorb water and therefore requires low pressure — approximately 300 psi or less. By attaching an upholstery tool to the machine, carpet extractors can clean chairs, drapes and even cubicle walls.

“Just adding that one tool makes a world of difference,” says Yeadon, who adds automobile and camper vehicle interiors to the list of materials that can be cleaned effectively with an upholstery wand.

Large 18- to 20-gallon carpet extractors as well smaller 8- to 10-gallon box extractors are easily converted to upholstery cleaners with an extra vacuum hose, a quick-connect hose for water and a 4-inch hand tool, says Chudy. He instructs his users to prime the hose first by holding the trigger until the water starts to flow out. This will to ensure there’s no air in the hose and promote an even spray when applying the solution to upholstery.

Michael Morrow, an upholstery expert and Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)–approved instructor, encourages facility managers and BSCs to identify the type of fabric prior to cleaning when using carpet equipment for upholstery or drapes.

“When cleaning upholstery, you have to think about what you’re cleaning and adjust your processes accordingly,” he says. “With cotton you want to … use a low-moisture approach. Rayon loses 50 percent of its weight when wet, so if you mistake it for silk you could run into a problem if you get it too wet.”

Whether custodians are cleaning upholstery or cubicle walls, John Kranzberg, sales consultant for Royal Papers Inc., St. Louis, Missouri, cautions against using too much pressure, which can lead to oversaturation.

“For upholstery, you don’t want to bump the pressure up too much even with high recovery of the solution, because that may lead to odor and mildew issues,” he says. “With some machines you can adjust the pressure. You need lower pressure and high recovery so you get faster drying times.”

Kranzberg trains janitors to use a prespray on cubicle walls for stains, allow the chemical to activate and treat the stain, and then use a carpet extractor with a neutralizer conditioner to remove the chemical.

Fortunately, most carpet extractors today come equipped with low-moisture tools to avoid oversaturating the fabric, according to IICRC-approved instructor Craig Jasper.

Furthermore, most commercial upholstery today is made of more robust fabrics, such as nylon or polypropylene, so there is minimal risk of damage. 

previous page of this article:
Identifying Alternate Carpet Extractor Functions
next page of this article:
Cleaning Grout With A High-Pressure Carpet Extractor