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  • Writer's pictureGeoff

Things I've learned cleaning upholstery (the ugly truth!)

I've been to your place before. Not actually, but I know it. The stainless appliances, brown flooring and wall mounted TV all look new. The bathroom looks clean and the toilet has one of those fancy buttons to flush instead of the old peasant paddle. The tasteful black and white prints from Ikea emphasize that I'm in the home someone who values order, cleanliness and making a good impression on guests.

Then I see it. I knew it was going to be there but my heart still sinks. I see a grey sectional couch, often atop some sort of off white area rug.

The rug is in decent shape which is a relief, as that's what I've been hired to clean. There's a couple of small pasta stains and as you rightly have recognized, it could use an overall freshening up. No problem. Once I'm done, the entire apartment will look immaculate and later that night you'll pour a glass of wine, stream your favourite show and with a feeling of deep satisfaction, plop down to enjoy an evening SITTING ON AN ABSOLUTELY FILTHY COUCH.

Vancouver upholstery and carpet cleaning picture
Looks clean, right?

Cleaning everything except the couch

It's one of the more bizarre human behaviours I've ever observed. People will spend hours or pay tons to have every part of their living space be kept perfectly clean. Clothes are discarded after being worn for a year or two. A car more than ten years old or an apartment building built in the early 2000's is "nasty" or "disgusting". Despite all this, people will spend 5-7 years sitting on a surface that has never been cleaned. Ever.

A surface that people sleep on, eat on, have sex on and engage in every imaginable human behaviour on top of letting their pets do the same thing. I sometimes pull 20-30 litres of almost black water out of a standard sectional to the horror of the owner. These are also not flop houses like the ones me and my "bros" rented when we were 20; I'm talking accountants, nurses, university professors and just generally nice, normal people you'd meet walking around Vancouver.

The problem is that some upholstery, especially of it's grey or any dark colour, is fantastic at concealing dirt and grime. On a light coloured area rug or carpet, something like the aforementioned pasta stain is in our face every day but on a dark couch, it takes something heavy like red wine or chocolate to really make an impact and some couches can even hide those well (side note- if you're big into red wine, never buy anything even close to white upholstery or carpet unless you can afford to call me out every other Monday).

Odour also accumulates but because it increases gradually and you smell it every day, it passes below the "stink threshold" and only me and your guests notice! That smell you get in apartment hallways is a more intense version- years of built up cooking and other various nasty odours residing in a porous material that never gets cleaned.

When to get your upholstery cleaned

These are all important considerations when it comes to the couch in your home but they become a critical concern if you're considering buying a used couch. Based on what I've seen, I would strongly advise you to get any couch or upholstered furniture professionally cleaned after purchase. Never take the word of the previous owner that they "kept it pretty clean". In the carpet cleaning business, you learn pretty quickly that people have a broad definition of "clean".

Couches should be cleaned at least once a year. Couches that are lighter coloured or see heavy traffic will need even more to maintain their colour and keep odour under control. The rule of thumb- if you think it's a little overdue, it's probably way overdue. With proper maintenance and an eventual cushion replacement, a good quality couch can last for decades. Buying a used couch and having it professionally steam cleaned could save you hundreds of dollars as opposed to buying a new couch.

Make sure for spring cleaning this year you include professional upholstery cleaning for your home. Few things will give a bigger boost to the overall smell and a clean feeling you can't quite put your finger on. Remember as well that the smaller the living space and the bigger the couch, the more impact a bad smelling couch will have meaning couch cleaning (and all cleaning) is a bigger consideration if you live in a tiny studio.

Get in touch with any questions about upholstery cleaning or carpet cleaning in Vancouver or to book a session and I promise to never tell anyone the "ugly truth" about how dirty your couch was. :)


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