Ask the Building Maintenance Experts
Solutions for Your Toughest Problems

ICAN  Q & A  Home

Monday, November 30, 2015


I have fabric covering on walls in meeting rooms. They havenít been cleaned in a long while and over the years hand prints, shoe scuff marks along the bottom, and just general grime have turned the covering gray. I have vacuumed the walls to remove dust, but don't know how to go after the grime without affecting the glue or the sheet rock behind it.


I would start with the easiest process and progress to the hardest, if required. First, pretest an inconspicuous area to ensure the fabric is cleanable and your cleaning chemicals are safe to use on it.. It is possible that the covering is wool and will require special procedures, such as controlled pH and lower rinse water temperatures. Dampen a small section to see if the familiar wool odor is emerges.
Next, spray a light amount of soil retardant shampoo or encapsulation cleaner on a difficult area. Buff lightly with a lambís wool car wash mitt and then towel lightly. If the fabric is wool, curtail fraying by careful agitation.
If the water based cleaner does not remove the spot, proceed with a spray and wipe of the solvent (full strength or according to label) and follow with the acidic rinse (normally diluted 1:5 with water). Apply the cleaning solution to the towel and carefully blot the spot.
If this does not provide adequate results, apply an upholstery cleaner and extract with an upholstery tool. There are specially designed hand tools available for this sort of cleaning. For an example see:
Your objective is to keep the cleaning solution wetting to a minimum, followed immediately with a thorough residue extraction. I would recommend that an acidic rinse agent be added to the extractor solution tank, that and fans or hand toweling be used to accelerate the drying. The solvent should remove heel marks, and the acidic cleaner should remove coffee stains.
Gary Clipperton
National Pro Clean Corp.
(719) 598-5112