Job Photo – Paint Removal from Drapes

Requested Service: Paint Removal from Drapes

OAK HARBOUR – A property manager previously unknown to us learned through a mutual contact that paint removal from drapes is possible when an attempt is made within days. Actually, while it’s best to get after it immediately, we’ve removed paint that was said to be 2 years old.

The paint transfer shown in the ‘Before’ image above was on the order of 1 month old by the time we arrived. Several drapery panels occupying the same room had been tied back prior to commencement. Unfortunately, all were released before the paint completely dried. Several others had paint transfer on them as well.

The ‘After’ photo shows the same area shown in the ‘Before’ photo, but following successful removal of the offending substance. Given the fact that repeated spot treatments and mechanical action must be applied in specific sequence, the time spent on just this one panel amounted to approximately an hour and a half.

It’s imperative anyone attempting to remove a substance like paint understands just how much mechanical action can be used without changing the drape’s appearance. Too much, and its fabric can become abraded. Much the same as new shoes are scuffed against rough surfaces.

Latex wall paint presents the best chance of success, as far as complete removal is concerned. Oil based paints, and especially enamels are much more stubborn. Alas, removal of epoxy coatings is not possible at all.

ADVANCED ON-SITE‘s specialty is drapery and shade cleaning, though we offer a range of other services related to window coverings. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Job Photo – 05/26/18

Requested Service: Hunter Douglas Silhouettes Cleaned

LOBLOLLY PINES – For aesthetics and functionality this homeowner could not have selected a better window covering for her master bedroom window openings. Elegant look with light filtering properties even as it provides visibility, during the day. Then, with a flip of the vanes, that all important privacy at night. 

One drawback is that insects have a tendency to crawl between the fabric layers and die there. (TIP: Use canned air to blast those critters out.) In this case there had also been a roof leak, causing water stains hither and thither.

Having been thoroughly satisfied with our work on previous projects, the property manager reached out. We’re so thankful for such continued confidence in our abilities.

ADVANCED ON-SITE‘s specialty is drapery and shade cleaning, though we offer a range of other services related to window coverings. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Wet Cleaning vs. Dry Cleaning

Wet Clean, or Not?

Pictured above is a French door opening with tied back drapery panels and a matching upholstered cornice overhead. Though they both feature identical fabric, the cornice may be wet cleaned. Whereas the drapes should never be wet cleaned. Why is this?

laundry2In a word: Shrinkage.

First, let’s talk about why some fabrics do not react well to water. As we all know, items like bluejeans and cotton tees must be either preshrunk, or purchased one or more sizes larger to allow for shrinkage after laundering. There’s a specific reason for this.

The stretching of fabric during garment manufacture stresses its fibers. When the material is saturated with water for the first time that stress is relieved. This is especially true when the water has been heated.

Here’s a link to an interesting article with more info on how and why shrinkage happens: Why Do Clothes Shrink in the Wash?

How Shrinkage Manifests Itself

For our purposes here “shrinkage” may be defined as a reduction in the surface area of the material. Meaning, movement occurs as the material contracts. The result is a change in appearance. Not just because the material now appears smaller. But also because in becoming smaller, it pulls at and encounters resistance from stitching at its seams, and even its own fibers as they release stress at different rates. This commonly displays as “curling” along the edges, and “rumpling,” or “drawing,” across the face.

When fabric is stretched taut across a padded wood framework, then fixed in place using stitching or fasteners as in the case of upholstery, shrinkage is not possible. The fabric simply cannot contract, because it has nowhere to go. That’s why the above referenced cornice is exempt from shrinkage.

Loosely hanging draperies, though, are quite another matter. As are non-upholstered accessories, like skirts and arm covers found on some sofas and chairs.

Be Sure You’re Protected

Condition issues often arise when a cleaning service successfully lobbies the homeowner to include furniture and draperies in a carpet cleaning project. Greatly reduced additional fees are generally cited as motivation.

When this happens, a written guarantee of NO shrinkage or damage should be obtained. Why? Because reduced fees are often justified through the elimination of time consuming processes. Such as purging equipment for the switch from a water based solution to something safer. As previously mentioned, this may not cause problems when cleaning some upholstered sofas and chairs. However, the accompanying image shows what usually happens when non-upholstered items are cleaned in this manner.

sofa skirt circleFixed at their upper limit, where the manufacturer intended them to meet, the pictured sections of skirting have drawn away from each other below that point. The resulting “splayed” appearance (circled) is a telltale sign that this sofa has been improperly cleaned.

A closer examination reveals something more. There’s been no shrinkage of the unseen lining on the back side of the skirting. How do we know? The tendency of the vertical edges to curl tells us that the lining is not subject to shrinkage. It may be made of a non-shrinking synthetic material (polyester, acetate, nylon, etc.). Or, it may contain a lightweight plastic insert. Either way, the non-shrinking liner was forced to yield to the movement of the face fabric as it shrank.


What Is Dry Cleaning?

The term “dry clean” is a bit of a misnomer. Liquid solvent is in fact necessary to thoroughly launder any fabric material. In this context the word “dry” simply refers to the absence of water. Put another way, solvents and spot treatments used in the dry cleaning process do not contain any trace of it.

Unfortunately, Perchloroethylene (PCE) is likely still the most widely used dry cleaning solvent in the U.S. Even though it was classified toxic by the State of California in 1991, and will be banned there by 2023. That’s why ADVANCED ON-SITE made a conscious decision to purchase equipment that would utilize the only safe alternative. Essentially an odorless mineral spirit refined to the nth degree, then ‘charged’ with a compatible detergent booster, our solution is safe for use in hospitals and nursing homes.

The Conclusion of the Matter

Now, just because an item can be wet cleaned does not necessarily mean it should be. For example, though a cornice and its matching drapes may be made of identical fabric, among professionals it’s generally considered unwise to clean one using a different solution than the other. This is because differing solutions absorb, then dry at different rates. Depending on fabric type and texture, slight variations in appearance can result when drying is complete. Therefore, both the cornice and drapes should be dry cleaned.

The ability to identify fabrics and anticipate their individual reactions to cleaning and handling is the reason ADVANCED ON-SITE can offer its exclusive NO shrinkage or damage guarantee. Call 561-644-4091 for more info.

Job Photo – 07/09/16

Requested Service: Pirouette Cleaning

 This resident of Broken Sound in Boca Raton was having some work done on their roof when the contractor accidentally cut through the A/C unit’s condensation line. Water came down the walls and ultimately onto their eleven month old window shades (Pirouette® by Hunter Douglas). Pirouette cleaning was in order.

When we left you couldn’t tell where even the nastiest water stains had been. Customer = GIDDY!

ADVANCED ON-SITE‘s specialty is drapery and shade cleaning, though we offer a range of other services related to window coverings. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Job Photo – 11/17/15

Requested Service: Cleaning

 While the owners of this Boca Raton residence were 1500 miles away at their home in Montreal, the pictured area of ceiling developed a leak and partially collapsed.

Monsoon conditions in September forced enough water through the breach and down the right-side drape, so as to wick into the bedding it comes into contact with on the bed’s left side. Structural elements incorporating fabric, such as the bed’s headboard and skirting, as well as the carpet below, all ended up with rust colored water stains.

ADVANCED ON-SITE does not normally clean bedding, upholstery, or carpeting. However in this case we elected to roll all three into a package that would most quickly and efficiently remediate the damage. After the leak was repaired and the ceiling restored, we went in to erase all remaining evidence.

Though not as heavy, the fabric was of an almost canvas-like material, in the sense that it was quite densely woven. This limits the effectiveness of the usual injection/extraction method. That’s when our arsenal of exclusive cleaning agents and techniques, together with years of experience, becomes so critical.

Removing all traces of what were some pretty significant deposits, involved a six hour process requiring the application of multiple agents, in specific sequence, with thorough rinsing between each.

When we were through, it was as if the incident never happened. Customer = SPELLBOUND!

ADVANCED ON-SITE‘s specialty is drapery and shade cleaning, though we offer a range of other services related to window coverings. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Job Photo – 10/28/15

Requested Service: Cleaning

The sheer panels pictured were peppered with regularly spaced dragonfly appliques, approximately one inch square. As the material was synthetic, these panels could have been placed in a washing machine with no danger of shrinkage. However, with the possibility that the appearance of even one applique could be altered during the agitation process, there’s no point in risking it. Our exclusive ON-SITE process is safe and effective. NO shrinkage or Damage, GUARANTEED!

ADVANCED ON-SITE‘s specialty is drapery and shade cleaning, though we offer a range of other services related to window coverings. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Enemy Sun

The Toll it Takes

Most of us are aware that the sun’s powerful rays can damage unprotected skin. We know its intense heat often transforms metal objects into firebrands. Less discussed, is its effect on fabrics.

Shown in the featured photo is a Silhouette® shading by Hunter Douglas, whose rear fabric layer has been ravaged by years of exposure. The shade was one of three, covering a guest bedroom window (inset).

Interestingly, the three were in varying stages of deterioration, with the one pictured suffering the worst of it. A small area of its bottom vane showed a mottled, slightly out of alignment appearance when viewed from the front. Otherwise, all three looked just fine at first glance. In fact, the owner had initially summoned us to clean them. She had no idea what bad shape they were in.

The Bearing Location Has

highrise condo
High-rise condos have associated elevation values

At this point a little background on the residence may be in order. An eighteenth floor penthouse condominium, situated on the Southeast corner of the building, it’s Eastern exposure receives as little as two hours of morning sunshine, daily, thanks to a large patio overhang. The Southern exposure gets almost no direct sun during the summer months. However, with no overhang, in winter the sun is on it all day looooooong. Welcome to the side of the building occupied by our opening with the wrecked shades.

Now, the openings facing East were also fitted with Hunter Douglas Silhouette® shadings. But they did not show anything approaching the same extreme damage. Likely, owing to two factors. They were newer by two years, and they never saw the sun at its most intense, for prolonged periods.

dilapidated barn
This barn appeared sound the day before it collapsed

SIDE NOTE: Given that this level of damage to window treatments is seen much more frequently in high-rise settings than at ground level, one is left to wonder what part elevation, however marginal, may play in intensifying the sun’s damaging rays.

As it is primarily a winter home, the residence is occupied only about 150 days a year. It’s understandable, then, that the progression of damage escaped the homeowner’s notice. Especially when you consider the fact that a dilapidated barn, for example, may appear to be structurally sound for years before deterioration accelerates as it nears the day when, inevitably, it falls down.

Plotting a Solution

Also understandable, the homeowner’s dismay at what a short life her now useless window shades had enjoyed. As well as her reluctance to replace them with the same type of product. But, what to go with, instead?

Manufacturers make no representation as to which of their fabric products fare better under extreme conditions. And perhaps wisely so, for there are many factors that can hasten sun damage. These include, but are not limited to, heat, humidity, dust, convection, and even the type of glass damaging rays pass through before actual contact with the fabric. The unofficial position is that, since there are so many possible combinations, and that they differ from opening to opening, such factors simply cannot be quantified.

That said, consensus seems to have it that non-woven fabrics, such as those used in honeycomb shades, have a greater life expectancy than woven fabrics, like those found in Silhouette®. However, they all utilize glue lines to hold their respective cells, louvers and vanes together and these are also known to break down with long term exposure to sunlight. In the final analysis, it seems the consumer must decide on his or her own which product to purchase. In this particular case, honeycomb shades were selected.

Nothing is Exempt

blown out drapery hem
Drapery side hem with area of compromised stitching

As discussed in our response to a visitor’s comment at the bottom of the Avoiding Damage to Vertical Blinds page, plastic components like carriers, carrier assemblies, and tensioners, dry out and become brittle with prolonged exposure to sun and heat.

The same condition befalls stitching in the pleats and side hems of drapery panels. Even when the recommended monofilament is used. Yes, that’s right. A “medium test” fishing line is the preferred thread for stitching drapes. All too often light duty monofilament, or even all purpose threads are used, and these degrade much quicker. Once the first stitch goes, the rest soon work their way lose until a hem or pleat is completely blown out.

The truth is, any material will eventually succumb to sun and heat. Still, due diligence pays off. To the extent possible, research the quality of any window fashion you wish to purchase. Have windows tinted. Layer treatments, so as to protect the most expensive of them with heavy duty underlying barriers like roller shades or plantation shutters. Also, if you’re the owner of a ground-level home, consider making use of shrubbery, awnings and anything else with the potential to shield windows from the sun.

ADVANCED ON-SITE‘s specialty is drapery and shade cleaning, though we offer a range of other services related to window coverings. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Job Photo – 10/06/15

Requested Service: Cleaning

This, friends, is perhaps the most unique window covering we’ve ever seen. And we’re in the business!

Its hardware, carriers and control cords are virtually identical to those of any other vertical blind system (left photo). But that’s where the similarity ends.

Where other systems are intended to suspend the familiar PVC vanes from their carriers, or less rigid fabric vanes with weights sewn into their bases, these suspend something quite different – braided nylon strands.

Hanging freely, they form groups that can either “puddle” on the sill’s surface, or cascade over its edge (right photo). While this is an interesting effect, it comes at the expense of privacy. As the photo clearly shows, this is not the type of covering one would commission for a bedroom window.

A certain homeowner at St. Andrews Country Club, Boca Raton inherited these when he bought the existing residence. Most likely European made, they had been installed in several openings overlooking a very large back patio.

Somehow, rust-like deposits had formed along the bottom, while the home sat empty for several months in foreclosure. The gentleman was given our contact info by a Boca window coverings firm and, following an afternoon cleaning session, we left him with a song in his heart.

ADVANCED ON-SITE‘s specialty is drapery and shade cleaning, though we offer a range of other services related to window coverings. Contact us to discuss your needs.



Removing Stains from Household Fabrics

Oh No! That Stain’s Gotta Go!

Your grandson marks up the upholstery of a beloved chair with crayons. The family dog returns from a scrap with your neighbor’s cat and spatters blood all over a white, sheer drape as he shakes himself in front of it. You’re confounded by the appearance of mildew on a fabric window shade, with no apparent source of moisture nearby.

These are all actual scenarios described to ADVANCED ON-SITE by individuals seeking removal of notoriously difficult substances. Truthfully, while all WERE removed, and the overall success rate exceeds 95%, elimination of all traces of a substance can never be guaranteed. Primarily because there’s no way to know for certain that previous attempts to remove it have not already been made.

First, Stop and Think About the Risk

Consider the fact that a stain can be permanently “set” if the wrong method is used to remove it.

Any substance with the potential to gain a foothold in textile is going to have a protein, oil, or tannin base. Some substances actually contain elements of more than one base. In such cases the correct spotting agents must be applied in a very specific sequence, often repeating each more than once, before moving to the next. These sensitive operations are best left to a professional.

Even then, certain factors reduce how aggressively a stain can be attacked. Including fabric type and weave. More on that in a minute.

Mechanical Action

Rarely does a stain just dissolve away with the simple application of a spotting agent. Anyone who does their own laundry knows, more often than not mechanical action is necessary.

While the agitation that occurs in a washing machine is a form of mechanical action, it is less effective than other, more direct means. For example, washboards used from colonial times right up, and into, the 20th Century. Then there’s the ancient method of beating clothes on rocks. On the other hand, a simple fingernail can sometimes coax particulates from the fibers of a garment, or other household fabric.

Scrubbing a stained area against a non-stained area of the material is also effective. Commonly available stain removing formulas are usually applied, allowed to “dwell,” then reapplied for this purpose. The key is knowing how much mechanical action can be brought to bear before the material sustains damage. Too much, and “abrading” will occur.

Inherent Dangers

Abrading is something we’ve all seen. Think of a rope rubbing against a rock or a tree. The first sign of damage will be a fraying appearance at the point of contact, indicating that small fibers have been severed and lifted from the main body.

Natural fibers are quicker to abrade than synthetics. But, all will eventually show signs of wear. Even before abrading occurs, the trajectory of individual threads can be disrupted in coarse or loosely woven fabrics, thereby making them appear twisted and uneven.

The Safe Solution

By now you’ve likely concluded that stain removal can be a tricky business. And you’d be right. In addition to everything else, when a stain is treated without, first, cleaning the entire chair, drape or shade, it ends up looking like just that – a stain treatment. In other words, it appears obvious that you’ve cleaned the stain and the area around it, while the rest of the item retains dust and other pollutants that have accumulated over time.

When a stain must be removed from an expensive window treatment, what you need is a company that guarantees against damage. ADVANCED ON-SITE is that company.


Job Photo – 09/06/15

Requested Service: Cleaning


This well appointed home at Woodfield Country Club, Boca Raton could be used as a Hunter Douglas Gallery Showroom, for all the company’s products on display there.

We’ve been called out to clean every one of the home’s Silhoutte® shadings three times, just since 2007! The reason? Insects crawl inside Silhouette’s louver cells, sometimes getting their little legs caught in the face fabric’s sheer weave. Of course they die there and can be very difficult to remove, completely. 

Fear not! We make such problems go away, daily.

ADVANCED ON-SITE‘s specialty is drapery and shade cleaning, though we offer a range of other services related to window coverings. Contact us to discuss your needs.