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Upholstery Cleaning Codes


July 2, 2013


My husband and I bought a beautiful, new living room set just before our third child was born. BIG mistake. We really should have just waited until all three kids were grown up and moved out. But you know how it is, being young and full of grand visions that wouldn’t dare include furniture soiled by sippy cups, granola bars, or dogs.


I soon discovered that our lovely, and rather pricey, sofa came with a special little tag hidden beneath the cushions. And on this special little tag was a special little letter “S”. That “S” was a cleaning code. After a bit of research I identified that it stood for solvent only, no water, cleaning. I looked at my grime covered couch and honestly had to take a minute to absorb that fact that I couldn’t use water to clean it. How could someone play such a mean trick on me? Why didn’t I know this information at the time of purchase?


Live and learn, I guess. Well we are finally looking at purchasing a new sofa, and I can guarantee you that those special little letters hidden within the confines of decorative pillows and snazzy fabric choices will be one of my top priorities. The kids may be older, but my visions are a little more based in reality these days. I want something I can clean, and clean easily at that!


So, here is a breakdown of the codes you may find on your upholstery:


S:  As we’ve already discovered, S means solvent only. Do not use water to clean this piece of furniture or you may risk shrinking the fabric, causing the dyes to bleed, or forming yellowish/brown water rings on the fabric. Get it cleaned by a professional cleaner. Sometimes you can unzip the cushion cases and take them in to a dry cleaner to be laundered as well.


W:  This is a happy letter. It means you can clean your furniture with a water-based upholstery cleaner. It is important, however, to keep in mind that water-based does not mean it’s okay to soak your couch in water. The least amount of water that can be used, yet still get a good clean, is recommended.


S/W:  For those furniture designers who just couldn’t make up their minds about which type of fabric to use and finally opted for the multiple choice option. This code means the furniture can be cleaned with water-based or solvent-based upholstery cleaners. My personal recommendation is to have it cleaned by a professional.


X:  Finally, the X. This is like the line through the skull you see on poison. It means stop. Furniture containing this code should not be cleaned with anything but a vacuum cleaner. So, keep your kids and pets off.


I hope these codes are helpful to you as you determine the best way to clean your furniture.


Happy cleaning!

Julie Rosenfeld serves as an Administrative Assistant for Aaron’s Quality Cleaners, a carpet-cleaning company that services the Fresno and Clovis (CA) areas.  She is the author of “Julie’s Corner” and provides information and perspective on topics related to the carpet-cleaning industry.


Aaron’s Quality Cleaners performs carpet cleaning, tile cleaning, aggregate cleaning and upholstery cleaning in Fresno, Clovis, Madera and Sanger


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