How To: Read Upholstery Cleaning Codes



Upholstery should be marked with a code that allows the buyer to know in advance, what type of cleaning is suggested. This is an important thing to keep in mind when purchasing new pieces for your home, or dragging something old back from an auction or estate sale. Click through the jump to see what these letters mean and share your tried and true methods for stain removal.

Cleaning codes on your favorite couch or chair are typically found under the seat cushions (assuming they are detachable) on the platform (the part the cushions sit on). If you do not find the cleaning code on the platform, check all tags that might be attached to the piece. If you removed them upon purchase, typically, this information is available on the companies website/product page. If it's vintage, you might try calling around to those who make their living reupholstering and they should be able to lend a hand.




Upholstery Cleaning Codes


  • "W"
  • If you find a "W" on your furniture you are in luck, as it means your piece can be cleaned with water. This would mean you will be safe if you use an upholstery/carpet cleaner (by using the attachments) on your spill or stain. This is the most durable type of fabric you can buy and is ideal for furniture that will see a high volume of use or spills ( dining room chairs, living room couches and chairs).

  • "S"
  • If you find an "S" on your furniture it means that it MUST be cleaned with cleaning solvents (dry clean only) and will not react well if water is applied to it. Spot cleaning is only advised if the product is meant for home dry cleaning use. Most employee owned grocery stores will typically carry one product of this nature as your local carpet cleaner often sells their product to them. (Make sure that after using a product of this nature to use a blow dryer to dry the spot so it doesn't leave a ring!) Do not allow your piece to become outlandishly dirty if you plan on being happy with the professional cleaning results you will get. Stains, spills or dirt in general should be cleaned as soon as possible to retain the longevity of the colors and the fabric.
  • "S/W"
  • This code means a combination of dry cleaning solvents and water can be used. It's not often seen and is often times best left to the professionals to clean something with this type of code. If that isn't in the budget, use furniture with the S/W code in low traffic areas and clean spots ASAP before they have a chance to set in. It is best to use a solvent based cleaner if you have it on hand.
  • "X"
  • This code isn't often seen anymore, but it does appear frequently on fabric blinds and shades. It means the item is NOT cleanable and is vacuum-only!! Check with a local furniture restoration shop on the best method to clean a piece of this nature.