You cleaned my suite…my daughter has a rash!

“You cleaned our three piece suite yesterday. My daughter has come out in a rash!’’

Skin irritation - legs

What would your immediate reaction be?

Concerned? Anxious? Terrified?

Maybe all of these things!

The scenario……

The cleaning Company was asked to clean a heavily soiled suite covered in a Polyester Microfibre cloth. As I am sure you are aware the absorbent characteristic of Microfibre fabric combined with its oil loving nature can create a rather heavy soil problem in a relatively short time.

The cleaning technician had picked up from past experiences or from the internet (not always the best way) that he could “get away with” using high pH detergents in both his pre-treatment ‘and’ the extraction solutions to achieve a good job….it had before…so he did. It’s true that highly alkaline detergents rarely cause damage to this particular fabric as they may well do if cleaning delicate natural fibres. …essential you get your identification right.

When people sit on furniture, there is direct skin contact with the fabric, this will include any detergent residues left within the fabric OR the interior fillings. There are more people these days who suffer allergic reactions to chemicals, food etc. therefore they are more likely to experience skin irritation after the fabric is cleaned. The same could be said for small children being allowed to crawl, sit or play on a carpet as well as soft furnishing fabric if it is not thoroughly rinsed.

To avoid this happening to you…

a) As a cleaning technician you need to fully understand the characteristics of the various fibres contained within the soft furnishing fabrics to be cleaned. Man-made fibres are less absorbent than Natural fibres. You need to ‘fully’ extract moisture/cleaning solution from the fabric

b) A full understanding of how the chemicals that are to be used actually work. Fabric cleaning chemicals are formulated to remove body fats, perspiration so when using them protective chemical resistant gloves should always be worn. Failure to do so can lead to Dermatitis a painful irritating rash or even more severe chemical burns. Any chemical left within the fabric during the cleaning process may well affect the customer and their family. Always rinse and neutralise when you clean soft furnishing fabrics.

c) A low moisture upholstery tool like the Sapphire Upholstery Pro Tool is useful, which limits the penetration of moisture within the fabric and doesn’t allow moisture to penetrate through to the interior…if correctly used.

The Sapphire Hand Tool is so effective in fact that this in itself may lead to a problem if the pre-treatment chemical is over applied and allowed to penetrate into the interior fillers. The hand tool is NOT designed to rinse out the interior SO…..


Any residue of cleaning chemical left behind will wick up into the surface area of the fabric as it dries out and remain there to be absorbed into the body of any person using the furniture. If there is a requirement to delve deeper into the interior then a different type of hand tool may be used, one that will ‘flood’ out the residues. Drying the fabric quickly then becomes a major issue.

To prevent pre-treatments penetrating into the interior is simple…select the appropriate chemicals and method of application. Be careful not to over apply your pre-treatment.

A reminder……

People do sit upon, sleep on and eat meals on their furniture. If cleaning product residues are left behind, there is always the potential risk of allergic reactions.

So….Adopt a safe policy for your cleaning process….”What goes in must come out’’

2 thoughts on “You cleaned my suite…my daughter has a rash!”

  1. With so many different allergies nowadays, as Derek has highlighted here, it is importaant to rinse out what you have put in. I avoid high PH cleaners as much as possible but sometimes you do have to use them to get desired results. I always find an acidic rinse leaves the fabric softer once dried.

  2. Good post Derek. We often think of high pH products in terms of the risk of damage to the item being cleaned if used inappropriately or not rinsed out. As you say there also health and safety issues too –

    if in doubt, rinse it out!


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