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Can Your Fabric Wall Hangings and Partitions Be Cleaned? Yes!

Posted by Hammond Knoll on Feb 18, 2021 8:57:00 AM

Wall coverings and partitions have many benefits for businesses of any size.

This includes:

  • Privacy
  • Reduced noise
  • Reduce echo (hello, 'lo, 'lo, 'lo...)
  • Soften a room
  • Add style 
  • Up your business’ cool factor
  • And, some are even flame retardant

Wall coverings and partitions in commercial spaces are typically not cleaned by a janitorial staff nor by the businesses crew. 

But that doesn't mean they don't NEED the care.

Fabric walls are collectors of cooking oils, air pollution, bacteria, dust and allergens (when doors and windows are open during the spring and summer), in addition to the typical everyday spots and spills that occur.

Below are the many types of wall coverings and partitions, including the fiber type and cleanability of each – and why you need a professional cleaning service to handle the job.

Wall coverings

Wall coverings are used to add style and texture to any room in a business.

Typically, they're made of grass cloth, linen, and even, in rare occasions, silk. 

You'll see these types of wall coverings most often in high-end hotels, dental and medical offices, as well as executive offices.

Other wall coverings are made of synthetic fibers such as polyester, which can be found in buildings with a lot of square footage (to keep the cost down), restaurants, and moderate-to-lower-end hotels.

Grass cloth, linen, and silk wall coverings require a dry-cleaning process or a very low-moisture cleaning process.

You know what that means: Trust the job to a professional cleaning company because they have the know-how to use processes that won't discolor or watermark the fiber, or cause it to peel away from the wall.

Cleanability of silk, grass cloth and linen

When the problem is typical dust, oils, and pollutants, the fibers clean-up great.

But, some oil-based stains can be stubborn and, since we can't be too aggressive with the wall covering, our hands are tied and a slight discoloration may remain after the cleaning.

Cleanability of synthetic fiber

There's some great news here: Very rarely is a synthetic-fiber wall covering permanently stained and it's super easy to clean

A little soapy water and a soft sponge will remove those nasty pollutants and dust.

Partitions, AKA room dividers

Partitions are used to add privacy, reduce noise and echo. Room dividers are also a less-expensive option to use instead of building walls. 

Most recently, partitions have frequently been used in even the tightest of office spaces during the COVID pandemic.

(We would place a bet that they'll remain in place once it's over.)

The partitions and room dividers that are used in commercial applications are typically made of cotton and synthetic fibers such as polyester.

Cleanability of partitions and room dividers

A regular vacuuming using the upholstery tool will do the trick for removing light dust and air pollutants. 

For a deep cleaning to remove bacteria, air pollutants, as well as stubborn stains, a professional thermal extraction steam cleaning is recommended. 

The cleanability of synthetic fibers on partitions are an A+. 

Cotton, on the other hand, can be stubborn. Just like a t-shirt, they're prone to colored grease stains. As an example, some stains may remain, even after a professional cleaning.

Fingers crossed, if you have an expert technician, they can work a miracle. (Pssst –  call HammondKnoll! 😉)

Acoustic wall coverings

These kinds of wall coverings are used for a whole array of reasons, both residential and commercial.

In a business application, they're used to reduce sound (duh) and echo. 

In large commercial spaces like conference rooms, play halls, and indoor music venues, they reduce echo and soften the sound that carries throughout the room.

(If you've ever been to a rock concert in a large, non-acoustic room, you know what we are talking about!)  

They can be quite stylish, too. 

The new trend is to have a custom design made of an acoustic panel to reduce the noise in a room, and have a super cool look. (See the image below.) 

We've even seen company logos made out of acoustic panels.

Acoustic panels are usually made of fiberglass, vinyl, synthetic fibers, cotton, and even wool in some rare cases. 

They can even be flame retardant, especially when made with a wool fiber. 



Cleanability of acoustic wall coverings

Just like partitions, acoustic wall coverings should be vacuumed to remove light soil and pollutants frequently, using the upholstery tool on a vacuum. 

A professional cleaning company should be used to clean cotton, synthetic and wool fibers. They need a hot water extraction to remove bacteria and allergens, as well as possibly needing to be cleaned using a dry cleaning method so as not to damage a delicate panel or piece of artwork.

Vinyl and fiberglass wall coverings can be cleaned with a sponge and warm soapy water.

Tapestries and wall hangings

While it's rare, we do occasionally see businesses use a large tapestry hanging on a wall to slightly reduce the echo in a room, as well as to give it a super awesome look. 

A majority of these wall hangings are wool, however some can be cotton or even silk. 

Wall hangings are mostly used in smaller offices such as an attorney’s office or a wellness center (lending a sense of calm), to name a few examples.

Cleanability of tapestries and wall hangings

It’s time to pull out the old vacuum with the upholstery attachment! Vacuum frequently to remove light dust and pollen from the fibers.  

A professional cleaning is highly recommended for a few big reasons: 

  • Some tapestries that are bright in color (red, brown, black and blue) are not color safe and will color-run if not tested and cleaned properly. 
  • Tapestries cannot be put in a washing machine – not even at the dry cleaners. They need to be hand cleaned using the proper cleaning method. 
  • If the wall hanging is silk, it will require additional steps to keep it in pristine condition. 
    Trusting a reputable rug cleaning company is a great place to start (Hint: HammondKnoll 😉).


Wall hanging

You can trust professional cleaners

Let’s wrap it up!

A business with a fabric wall covering, panel, partition or wall hanging is absolutely cleanable. 

In some cases, a do-it-yourselfer is possible. But in others, we recommend a professional cleaning firm, as we specified above.

If you have an unusual fabric (or non-fabric) wall, floor, ceiling – or even outdoor surfaces – send us a note or question. We fancy ourselves a problem to solve!

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