Why Is My Microfiber Couch Turning Black?


This is a resource article to help consumers understand the problems they may be having with their Microfiber upholstery. Being a professional upholstery cleaner, I’ll share with you the experiences that I’ve had with Microfiber upholstery over the past decade. I’ll also explain the best way for a professional upholstery cleaner to clean your microfiber furniture.

What is Microfiber?

Microfiber is a fiber that measures less than 1 denier. It’s very thin. A Microfiber is 100 times thinner than a single strand of hair. Microfibers are soft, water repellent, and have great wicking abilities. This is obviously why furniture manufacturers love it. However, did they test it over the long term with kids, pets, and heavy use? I think not!

Why are the heavy use areas on my couch turning black?

Because Microfiber is so thin, you’re actually damaging (wearing down) the fibers on the surface of the upholstery! The black is the backing underneath the microfibers. When I first discovered the exposed backing seven years ago, I walked into my customer’s living room Microfiber Leather, saw her couch, and said holy smoke, what is all that black on it? Well, one hour later, after cleaning it, and getting no transfer from the black areas, I learned about this phenomenon. She asked if there was anything I could do to fix it? I told her, “No, the fibers were worn; you can’t put threads back on a bald tire.”

Is all Microfiber upholstery of the same quality?

Absolutely not! For years I couldn’t figure out why I would clean some customers Microfiber upholstery which seemed to get the same heavy use as others, but it cleaned up nicely and had no black from fiber damage. Here’s what I learned. Microfiber furniture is made with fibers combined to create yarns. Then the yarns are knitted or woven to make furniture. The grade of the yarn is what distinguishes the quality of the Microfiber! Lower grade yarn is made with recycled plastics. There is no way you can find out what grade of yarn the upholstery was manufactured with, when you shop for furniture. The smartest thing to do is shop at a reputable, quality-oriented furniture store. If you’ve been around long enough, you should have learned that you get what you pay for.

Why do I get water rings on my Microfiber furniture when I clean spots?

There are two reasons this happens. The first reason is that upholstery is probably one of the most neglected furnishings in the home and needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. Most of the furniture I clean is so dirty I can take my upholstery tool and make a clean streak right down the middle. In a nutshell, the spot you removed from your furniture is the only clean spot and the rest of the furniture is dirty, and left with what appears to be a water mark. The second reason is, because Microfiber has good wicking abilities and is water repellent to some degree, furniture manufacturers and distributors tell the consumer to wash off any spots or stains. Now take a guess what that has created? You now have 20 million people out there cleaning upholstery with whatever they have handy underneath the cabinet! Most wash it like they’re washing their car. They’re causing permanent watermarks, discoloration stains, dye loss, and rust stains! Not a week goes by when I don’t walk into a customer’s living room and my mouth freezes open. Most damage is irreversible!

What do I need to know in regards to having it professionally cleaned?

First, if you have the black coming through, you need to realize that cleaning the furniture isn’t going to change its appearance. Many of my customers still pay to have it cleaned because you can still remove a lot of soil and deodorize the furniture. This is how Microfiber furniture should be cleaned by a professional;

1. Pre-spray upholstery with at least a 9ph upholstery cleaner.
2. Wipe down the entire furniture with terry cloths.
3. Use a solvent grease remover for heavily soiled areas, arms, headrest etc.
4. Extract using truckmounted equipment with at least 200 degrees of hot water.
5. Stubborn areas should be sprayed with solvent remover then extracted again.
6. Wipe down furniture again with terry cloths.

What type of furniture should I purchase?

When you shop for furniture, there really isn’t all that much to choose from. You have Microfiber, leather, and different upholstered fabrics. Many consumers buy the Microfiber furniture because of the reclining benefits they offer. Microfiber furniture can be very nice furniture if you put it in a room where it will not get abused, but if you put it in a room where it will be heavily used with the animals and kids going at it, you will seriously regret it, as so many of my customers have!

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