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Decoding Cleaning Codes

Nothing ruins beautiful upholstered furniture like a spilled glass of red wine or muddy paw prints. We know choosing high quality furniture is important but what about the fabrics' cleanability for spills down the road? Yes, that is important too and you definitely want a fabric that is ready for life. Today we will discuss cleaning codes and what they mean.

Maybe you already know that upholstered fabric furniture comes with cleaning codes which describe the way you should clean your fabric. Upholstered fabrics are classified into one of the following four categories: code S, W, SW and X. Let's discuss these codes below in detail.

Code S

Code S stands for “Solvent” and you should only use water-free dry cleaning agents to clean these fabric types. Spot clean only using a mild water-free solvent or dry cleaning product. Pretest a small area before proceeding to make sure no staining occurs to the fabric from the cleaning agent. It is highly recommended to use a professional cleaning service when cleaning soiled code S fabrics.

Code W

Code W stands for “Water” and you should clean stains with a water-based cleaning agent for stain removal. Spot clean with a water-based shampoo or foam upholstery cleaner. Always pretest a small area to make sure no cleaning product staining occurs. Do not over wet or use dry cleaning solvents to clean stains with this fabric cleaning code. Use a professional cleaning service when treating a tricky or large stain.

Code SW

Code SW stands for “Solvent/Water” which means you can clean stains with either a dry cleaning solvent agent or a water-based upholstery cleaner. Spot clean with a mild solvent, an upholstery shampoo or the foam from a mild detergent. Always test a small spot first to make sure no further staining occurs from the cleansing agents. Use a professional cleaner when an overall soiled area is untreatable at home. This cleaning code is the most desirable because you have the most options when it comes to the type of cleaning agents you can use on your stain.

Code X

Code X means you can clean this fabric only by vacuuming or light brushing to remove dust and grime. Water-based foam cleansers or solvent-based cleansers of any kind are NOT recommended for use. These cleaning agents may cause excessive shrinking, staining, or distortion of the fabric surface pile and should not be used.

When cleaning fabric upholstered furniture always remember to never remove cushion covers and wash at home even when they do have zippers. Do not use any tumble method because this will ruin the backing of the fabric. Avoid using cleaning products that have Carbon Tetrachloride as it is highly toxic.

The cleaning codes listed above are usually found on a tag attached to your furniture. The most common spot for this tag is underneath the seat cushions or under the bottom of the furniture piece. Be sure to know your fabric cleaning code before you try any cleaning method because you wouldn’t want to possibly make a stain worse or weaken the fabrics fibers. Always test a small spot under the cushion first with your cleaning agent to make sure it doesn’t stain the fabric.

Now you are armed with an upholstered furniture fabric cleaning guide so you can handle that next stain of your furniture!

By Chloe Holister-Cicciarelli

Interior Designer, Blogger & Marketing Consultant

Chloe Holister-Cicciarelli has been in the design field for the last 4 years and she works at Stewart and Company Fine Furniture as a marketing consultant, blogger and with customers as an interior designer. Chloe is a passionate writer and when she isn’t working you can find her walking her dog and being engaged in countless art projects. For more blogs from Chloe please click

Stewart and Company Fine Furniture


472 West Michigan Ave. Kalamazoo, MI. 49007


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