"Suede? UltraSuede? Nubuck?"
Consumers are in love with soft textures today. Upscale consumers purchase chenille to such a large extent that some designers recommend some type of it exclusively.
However, for many people there are other alternatives in upholstery fabric to give the "soft texture" that is so much in demand today.
Most people call what they have "suede". While it's entirely possible that suede is used for their furniture, it's unlikely. True suede is a split hide that is VERY weak, and would likely split with much use. Its more likely that the upholstery is made from one of two VERY different items:
- Nubuck Leather. Leather continues to have a large share of the upholstery market, and unfortunately one of the three varieties of leather that is used is known as Nubuck Leather. Nubuck is leather than is cut with fine blades to create a very soft, brushed finish.
This product feels very soft to the touch, is very popular, and absorbs most anything spilled onto it. Even leather restoration experts dislike cleaning Nubuck Leather, since both the cleaning as well as restoration of the texture is very time consuming.
- Microfibers. It's more likely that what your customer calls "suede" is not suede at all, but microfiber fabric. Microfibers were originally a durable, knitted material, but today may also be flocked or laminated. Such flocked or laminated fabrics must be inspected carefully for pre-existing damage.
Other than these potential structural problems, most microfiber fabric is made from polyester, which is durable and relatively easy to clean with water based detergents, though special attention should be paid to areas with oily spots, such as hair and body oil, since polyester is a very oil loving fiber.
It is also possible that you might encounter microfiber fabrics made from rayon, though at this time it appears rayon microfibers are still limited to apparel use. Beware, though, this might change at any time, especially with the ever increasing use of cheap, imported fabrics.
The key between knowing the difference between very challenging Nubuck Leather and relatively easy to clean microfiber fabrics is to perform a simple burn test. Unlike other fibers you would test, the difference between burnt hide and burnt plastic is, of course, easy to see.
If you'd like to know more about the cleaning of microfiber fabrics, request my free report ....
SPECIAL NOTE: Jim is presently involved in an ongoing lab project where he is testing and evaluating the problems encountered when cleaning furniture upholstered with various microfiber fabric blends.
He has prepared a report based on research to this point, titled: Microfiber Tricks, Tips, and Tools. If you would like a copy of this report, please go to this download page: http://www.ecleanadvisor.com/public/828.cfm