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What Does Fabric Cleaning Code W Mean?

If you want to keep your upholstered furniture looking new, it’s crucial to maintain the proper cleaning regimen. But before you just go ahead and use any cleaner or any method, be careful to educate yourself about cleaning codes and what they mean.

Luckily, Cleaning Code W is one of the easier fabrics to clean, and if you follow the directions you shouldn’t have a problem. Read on to get the full details of what cleaner to use and how to do the cleaning:

What is Cleaning Code W?

As you’re probably aware, furniture can be made from a wide range of materials, including leather, fabric, suede, microfiber, and so on. These different materials will respond to chemicals and cleaning techniques differently.

Upholstered furniture usually has one of a few upholstery cleaning codes that tell you what is safe and what will work best for your particular fabric. While some codes like S require more careful cleaning, such as using a dry cleaning solvent, code W is one of the easiest cleaning codes for upholstery fabrics.

There are 4 main cleaning codes you’ll need to be aware of— cleaning code S, X, W, and WS. They each have a specific meaning, and with some research, you can learn which cleaning products will be safe to use.

The product label, usually in an inconspicuous space like under the cushions, displays the appropriate cleaning code for the furniture. If there are no labels at all, you should always call the manufacturer—or a cleaning company— before cleaning just to be safe.

What Does Cleaning Code W Mean?

Cleaning Code W (not to be confused with Cleaning Code WS), which stands for “water-based cleaner”, means that you can clean the fabric with water-based cleaning agents.

This code includes water-based shampoo, foam cleaner, baking soda/vinegar or any other water-based cleaners. Code W also means that hot water and steam cleaning are acceptable.

Because you can use anything with water, there is often no need to buy a dry cleaning solvent for this type of fabric. You are safe to first see if a cheap and cleaner like water, vinegar, baking soda or gentle soap works.

Do note, though, that it is better to use distilled water rather than tap water. Tap water can be a problem because minerals from tap water can cause the color to fade.

What Upholstery Cleaning Products Can I Use?

With Code W fabrics, you can use any water-based cleaning product. To start, it is probably best to use mild dish soap or mild detergent. The foam (suds) from dish soap is a good first step. Don’t put it on directly, but instead dissolve a small amount in a cup of water.

You can also use a foam upholstery cleaner, as long as it is water-based. But to be safe, it is a smart move to test out any cleaning on an inconspicuous area of the couch with a spot clean. This test is just for safety. If your test on a hidden area passes, then you are safe to use it on a more exposed part of your sofa.

The last thing you want is a cleaner to permanently damage an exposed area of your sofa. An upholstery shampoo can also work, but use it with the same precautions. Below, you will find a list of our favourites.

Zero Additives
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07/14/2024 09:06 am GMT
Organic & Fair Trade
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07/14/2024 09:16 am GMT

How to Clean a Code W Sofa or Couch

  1. Remove all loose dirt and particles with a vacuum cleaner or light brushing. Frequent vacuuming with an upholstery attachment is a great step for all furniture as it reduces the frequency you will need to do a ‘deep clean’.
  2. Next, try to clean the affected area with just the foam from any water-based cleaner. It’s important to use the foam to avoid overwetting. You can do this by dissolving dish soap into a cup of water and mixing it until suds form.
  3. If the liquid dish detergent doesn’t work, then you will have to next try a foam upholstery cleaner or solvent cleaning with a very mild dry cleaning solvent. Just be sure to follow the directions, and be sure to avoid overwetting. If you end up with excess moisture on your furniture, you can use a hair dryer and white cloth to remove it
  4. It is best to use a white cloth so that you don’t accidentally transfer any of the cloth’s colors onto the fabric. This is especially true if you are using hot water or steam as that will make the cloth color transfer much more easily.
  5. Whatever product you are using, do not scrub too hard or too much. Firstly, over scrubbing is not necessary because it is the chemicals in the soap or cleaner that do most of the work. And secondly, over scrubbing can discolor and distort the texture of the fabric.

The quick video below will show you exactly how easy it is to undertake a quick clean on food stains for Code W furniture:

What If My Fabric Has No Cleaning Code?

If your piece of furniture doesn’t have a label that discloses the code, your best bet might be to call a professional cleaning company to take care of your upholstery cleaning. They will inspect the fabric and know how to handle it.

If you still want to clean it yourself, it is worth calling the manufacturer of your piece of furniture to see if you can get the information on your fabric’s upholstery cleaning codes. If you don’t, you run the risk of damaging the material.

If you still cannot figure out the cleaning code, you are not completely out of luck. You can always spot test in a hidden area to see what happens!

Note: From cleaning stainless steel and appliances through to furniture and floors – you should always be spot cleaning no matter what!


More detail than you might think goes into cleaning your favorite upholstery piece of furniture.

If you ignore these details, you may be even more disappointed as your problem could turn from a small stain into a lot of damage. Even though Cleaning Code W is one of the easier codes, you still want to know the details as some upholstery fabrics have variations within the one code.

If you’re still not feeling confident in doing the cleaning yourself, you can always play it safe and call a professional upholstery cleaner. Since these companies clean upholstered furniture regularly and come with their own insurance, you can be sure that they will get the job done.

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