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Fabric Cleaning Code S: What Does It Mean?

Couches, sofas and most other household furniture need consistent cleaning to stay in top condition – but it’s super important to always check your cleaning codes first and understand what they mean!

Cleaning Code S is a very common cleaning code that requires a particular degree of care to be taken regarding what types of cleaners are used, as well as how you clean.

Read on below as we take you through everything you need to know about cleaning furniture that is ‘Cleaning Code S’.

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Fabric Cleaning Codes: What Are They?

Fabric cleaning codes are simply a set of letters (or even sometimes numbers) that specify what cleaning methods will be safe and effective for furniture, upholstery and clothing.

There are a few different cleaning code systems in place nowadays, however, cleaning code S remains one of the most common.

What is Cleaning Code S?

Cleaning code ‘S’ is 1 of 4 primary cleaning codes (code X, S, W & WS) for fabric and upholstery and stands for “solvent only” (or non-water based) cleaners. You may find other cleaning codes outside of these letters, but these are by far the most commonly used.

‘S’ is a very common upholstery cleaning code that is used by manufacturers and is important to understand the cleaning methods available for this code as non-solvent cleaners may not only be ineffective but can cause serious damage.

Our first recommended step when cleaning any fabric or upholstery is to contact the manufacturer directly to make certain your intended cleaning method is suitable

What Does Cleaning Code S Mean?

Cleaning code ‘S’ means that the furniture or upholstery fabrics should be cleaned with a ‘dry cleaning solvent’ or a ‘water-free solvent’.

The dry cleaning method with solvents is the process of removing soil and other contaminants from fabric or upholstery by applying a chemical solvent to wet surfaces, then wiping the mixture away with dry cloths.

Dry cleaning solvents are typically composed of volatile organic compounds (VOC) like petroleum distillates. They can be applied in liquid form using brushing machines, but more commonly they are sprayed on furniture with high-powered sprayers that use compressed air as propellants.

The dry cleaning solvent method is one of the more complicated upholstery cleaning codes to work with so make sure you do your research before cleaning, and start out ‘spot cleaning’ inconspicuous areas of your furniture first.

It is very important not to expose ‘S’ fabrics to water or water-based cleaners as they can react with natural dyes, cause permanent stains, leave water rings or create color changes over time.

What Products Can I Use As Code S Upholstery Cleaner?

There are a number of dry cleaning solvents out there that can be used as code S upholstery cleaners.

The key is to find one with the correct cleaning power and properties for your needs, combined with an appropriate price point. We won’t recommend you a particular brand here, but, there are many options out there if you plan on cleaning DIY.

There are strong solvents available that will remove tough dirt and stains, but may fade colors or cause damage to some fabrics over time and on the other hand, there are gentler ‘greener’ natural solvents that are easier on to your fabric but may not be as effective at stain removal.

It’s important to do your research before deciding which one is best suited for your particular needs, and if you’re ever in doubt, contact the product manufacturer or engage the services of a professional upholstery cleaning company!

How Do You Clean An ‘S’ Sofa Or Couch?

We have some brilliant cleaning guides available for a range of different sofas and couches (at the bottom of this article), but just to give you a quick rundown on how to best clean ‘S’ code furniture:

  1. Vacuum: You should first vacuum the furniture and then use a brush attachment to remove any stubborn dirt and loose particles (Note: If the tag reads ‘SM’ this means don’t brush!).
  2. Spot Test: Whether it’s a stainless steel surface or your favourite sofa – you should ALWAYS spot clean a small and out of sight section first to make sure you get the results you desire.
  3. Apply the Dry Cleaning Solvent: Complete your dry clean as per the instructions of your solvent cleaner, making sure to not spill any solvent on your floor or carpet. It’s often best to lay down a drop sheet around your furniture first.

Karl from ‘Cleaning How To’ gives an excellent quick walkthrough in the video below on a great dry cleaning method for furniture. Check it out!

What Do I Do If My Fabric is ‘Unmarked’ And Has No Cleaning Code?

If your furniture, fabric or upholstery has no designated cleaning code, it is best to call a professional cleaning company and have them come out for an inspection. If you do plan on cleaning it yourself, try to call the product manufacturer to get the correct information, or otherwise risk damaging your favourite piece!


Can you steam clean an S code couch?

No. Steam cleaning an S code couch or sofa will definitely damage it. WS is different and allows for steam, but if it strictly code S, don’t use steam.

Can you use vinegar on S fabric?

No, you can’t. S code upholstery requires that you only use dry cleaning solvents.

Can you dry clean a fabric sofa?

If your particular fabric sofa can be verified as a code S sofa – then yes, you can dry clean it.

That’s It!

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As you can see, it’s super important to know which cleaning code applies to your furniture as it has huge impacts on how you clean and treat it.

Cleaning code S requires some particular care and attention to detail but gets excellent results when done correctly.

Always consult the manufacturer before any clean for peace of mind, and if you’re still not confident, you can easily hire a specialist for a professional dry clean.

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