Clean Your Upholstery Fabric Like a Pro: How to Identify Upholstery Fabric Cleaning Codes

Did you just recently buy a new, upholstered sofa and are now worried about its cleaning and maintenance? Well, your concerns are certainly rightful, since you spent a lot on buying it. Now, cleaning a sofa, particularly an upholstered sofa, can be tricky. This is because the method of cleaning is based on the upholstery fabric. Not every upholstery fabric can be washed or cleaned with solvents. That’s why it is important to decipher the nature of the fabric.

Each type of fabric requires a certain cleaning method, identified by the unique cleaning codes. What exactly are those codes, where to find them, and how they make the whole process easy for you - let’s dissect these queries in this blog post:

Where Exactly are the Upholstery Fabric Cleaning Symbols?

Before we get to the meaning of these symbols, let’s shed some light on where to find them. If you’ve bought branded upholstery furniture or even a custom furniture from a local store, the tag is sure to be stamped with the code. If it’s not there, find it inside the zippers, buttons, or underneath the article.

Identifying the Upholstery Fabric Cleaning Codes


Once you’ve found the tag with the code, all you need is to look for the letter(s). The code should be in the form of one of these letters: W, S, W/S, and X. Here’s what each letter means and the what course of action is required for each:

“W” - The Washable Fabric

Fabrics with “W” code can be cleaned with water-based cleaners. Upholsteries based on “W” fabric are the easiest to clean and maintain, given their ability to endure water. However, this “W” doesn’t make the fabric machine-washable. It’s always prudent to wash them manually using water-based cleaners.

“S” - The Solvent-Based/Dry Clean-Based Fabric

The “S” stands for “Solvent”, which means that the upholstery you own requires solvent cleaning. Do not ever think of using water or liquids on such fabrics, as the liquid might weaken the structural integrity of the fabric. Any dry cleaning product should do the job, particularly for spot-cleaning.

“SW” or “WS” - Suitable for Water & Solvent-Based Cleaning

The fabric with the symbol “SW” or “WS” can endure both water and solvent-based cleaning. These fabrics are perfectly safe to wash and dry clean, or even to use a combination of both cleaning methods. You may use a mixture of water and mild detergent, or just the dry cleaning solvent.

“X” - Only Vacuuming

Neither dry cleaning agents, nor the water-based cleaner, the “X” fabrics go well with only the vacuuming. This essentially implies that the nature of fabric is delicate enough not to withstand water or even the dry cleaners. You may do mild brushing, but if there’s a permanent stain, it’s time to consult a professional and let them do the job.


Cleaning upholsteries can be both easy and tricky depending on the type of dirt/stain and fabric material. For mild cleaning jobs, simply find the tag with code on it, identify what it says, and do the process accordingly. Before subjecting the entire fabric to the cleaner, it is prudent to use the cleaner on a hidden spot, so as to examine the efficacy and toxic nature of the cleaning agent.