Know Your Fabric: A Guide To Upholstery Cleaning Codes

Fabrics are categorized into codes in order to provide information on what they are made of and what cleaning solution is best used to maintain their shape.

The code is usually hidden under the seat or on the platform, or on the tags which are attached to the piece. As a furniture owner, knowing what material your upholstery is made of is one thing to keep in mind. This is especially helpful when it comes to the time that you need to take out some stains.

There are four general cleaning codes that cover most upholstery material, and it comes with the convenient first letter of the solution that best applies to them.

W Fabrics
“W” stands for Water. This means that cleaning your upholstery can easily be done with water and that you’d be safe even if you use a bit of water-based fabric cleaner on the stain. W fabrics are the most durable type of fabric that can withstand spills and wear and tear. Examples of this fabric are faux leather and vinyl.

S Fabrics
“S” stands for Solvents. Fabrics under this code require to be cleaned with cleaning solvents only and may not react well with water if it is applied on the spot. If you own this type of furniture, it is best to discover a brand of cleaner that will respond to the stain and clear it away. LAVE is an amazing brand made of natural fabric cleaner¬†ingredients and is Kovi Fabrics’ go-to solution for its upholstery.

S/W Fabrics
This code is a combination of water and solvent cleaning codes. Fabrics under this category can be cleaned with mild cleaning solvents paired with distilled water.

X Fabrics
The letter says it all: do not attempt to clean. It is not cleanable and only requires proper vacuuming from its user. When stained, ask for professional help in handling the blemish.


There are many upholstery cleaning guidelines online that can help users clear out the dirt on their furniture.

However, it is important for you to understand the composition of your furniture. Fabrics may be made up of different materials, the most common are nylon, acrylic, and polyester. Some contain different blends of fibers, which makes their composition and cleaning more complex. Take a look at some of the materials your fabric may contain:

Natural types. Made up of 100% natural fibers, which react well with water-based cleaners. Types of these fibers are cotton and wool.

Synthetic types. Faux leather and vinyl are two of the top synthetic fiber types, and these can be easily cleaned. Water-based cleaning agents will work on these upholstery types.

Combination types. These contain a percentage of natural fibers and a percentage of synthetic fibers. Most of these furniture require professional cleaning.

Microfiber types. Because of its condensed fiber composition, this fabric is easy to clean and maintain overall. The tightness of the material keeps dirt from settling in and can easily be vacuumed away.

Final note: when cleaning, start with a small spot test on a non-visible section to see how the fabric reacts to it. If there is discoloration, stop applying the agent and find another cleaner.

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