How to Clean UpholsteryIf you’ve ever investigated how to clean your upholstery, you’ve probably been told to check the tag. Upon doing so, you just see a letter. No instructions or tips or things to avoid—just symbols. Well, we explain the cryptic code and what cleaning method is appropriate for each letter below.

  • W means you can use a water-based product to clean the fabric.
  • S means you can use a solvent-based cleaner. Both water-based and solvent-based cleaners contain chemicals. Solvent-based cleaners just have as their base petroleum, a natural oil, or another chemical rather than water.
  • SW means you can use either a solvent- or water-based product to clean the fabric.
  • X means you can NOT use either a solvent- or water-based product to clean the fabric. Only vacuuming is recommended.

You should always begin cleaning furniture by vacuuming first to get rid of loose dirt and debris, then using the methods below.

Upholstery Marked W

Mild dish soap works well for cleaning furniture marked W. In a bucket add a very small amount of dish soap and warm water. Dip a clean cloth in the soapy water and squeeze out any extra water. You do not want to over-wet the upholstery. Gently scrub the surface until clean and let air dry. After it has fully dried, vacuum the surface again to restore the look of the couch.

Upholstery Marked S

Rubbing alcohol works well for cleaning upholstery marked S. Apply rubbing alcohol to the dirty or stained area and let sit for a minute or two. Blot dry with a clean white cloth. Dark spots appear on microfiber upholstery when it gets wet, but these will disappear as the liquid dries. Let the furniture air out for a little while before sitting on it. You can also use a dry detergent. Just sprinkle on, rub into the stain with a soft brush, then vacuum off.

Upholstery Marked SW

You can clean this surface using any water-based or solvent cleaner. Any of the steps above are acceptable to clean upholstery that is marked SW.

Upholstery Marked X

Only vacuum these kinds of furniture. Chemicals and water will ruin the fabric. Vacuum the entire surface very well, getting in between and underneath the cushions.

Use this guideline to appropriately clean any kind of furniture. If you don’t want the hassle, you can also hire professionals. Call a local house cleaning service to get more information on professionally cleaning your home.