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Fabric Cleanability Code

How to Determine the Correct Method of Cleaning Your Upholstery Fabric


Manufacturer's label showing cleanability code and instructions for cleaning.

Manufacturer's label showing cleanability code and instructions for cleaning.

Photo © Abe Abbas

Knowing the cleanability code for your fabric helps you take good care of your upholstered furniture. The easiest way to determine the correct method for cleaning your upholstery fabric is to refer to its fabric cleanability code.

Cleaning with the wrong products can damage your beautiful sofa. Fortunately, most furniture fabrics now carry cleanability codes adopted in 1969 to help you determine the best and safest way to clean a particular fabric. You will either find the code on the manufacturer's label, or you can ask for it when you are selecting fabric for your sofa.

When you need to use a cleaning product, check for the cleanability code for your fabric. Here is what each letter stands for:

Code “W”

Code “W” is used on fabrics that should be cleaned with water based cleaning agents. Spot clean using foam from only water based cleaners, or non-solvent cleaning products. Apply foam with a soft brush in a circular motion, and vacuum when dry.

Code “S”

On fabrics with an “S” code, use a mild water-free cleaning solvent or dry cleaning product. Make sure the room is well ventilated and there are no open flames, such as from a candle or cigarette lighter .

Code “W-S”

Code “W-S” fabrics can be cleaned with either water or solvent based products. Use a mild solvent, an upholstery shampoo, or the foam from a mild detergent.

Code “X”

Clean this fabric by vacuuming or gently brushing only. NEVER use any cleaning agents at all. Any cleaning product whether water or solvent based may cause staining, shrinkage or distortion of the fabric surface pile.

General Guidelines

  • Regularly clean your fabric by vacuuming or light brushing.
  • Always check code before deciding which cleaning products to use.
  • Test cleaning product in an inconspicuous area first to guard against color bleeding or fabric shrinkage.
  • Follow all directions and advice.
  • Call a professional when your upholstery needs overall cleaning.
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