How to Read Cleaning Codes

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How to Read Cleaning Codes

When it comes to buying furniture, choosing high quality upholstery is key. Investing in a durable, cleanable fabric will save you a lot of stress when stains and spills inevitably occur. Before selecting a fabric for your piece of furniture always check the supplier’s double rub count as well as the cleaning code which tells you the best way to clean that specific fabric, both can help you determine which fabrics are best suited to your lifestyle and the intended use of the product.

Most upholstery should be marked with a code that allows the buyer to know in advance what type of cleaning is best.  This is very important to keep in mind when purchasing a new piece for your home or new fabric to recover a much-loved piece. 

Cleaning codes are typically found under the seat cushions (assuming they are detachable) on the platform.   If you don’t find the cleaning code on the platform, check all tags that might be attached to the piece.  If you removed them upon purchase, most times this information is available on the companies’ website/product page. 

These are the letters most often found on your fabrics and the methods for stain removal.


If you find a “W” on your furniture, you are in luck, as it means your piece can be cleaned simply with water.  This means that you will be safe to use an upholstery/carpet cleaner (by using the attachments) on your spill or stain.  This is the most durable type of fabric you can buy and is ideal for furniture that will see a high volume of use or spills…such as dining room chairs, living room couches and chairs.


If you happen to find this code on your furniture, it means that it MUST be cleaned with a cleaning solvent (dry cleaning) only and will not react well if water is applied to it. Spot cleaning is only advised if the product is meant for home dry cleaning use.  Most grocery stores will typically carry one product of this nature, however, be sure to use a blow dryer to dry the spot so it doesn’t leave a ring. Stains, spills or dirt in general should be cleaned as soon as possible to retain the longevity of the color and the fabric.

Do not allow your piece to become overly dirty if you plan on being happy with the professional cleaning results.


This code means a combination of dry cleaning solvents and water can be used.  It’s not often that you see this and is often left to the professional to clean something with this code.  If this isn’t in the budget, use furniture with this code in low traffic areas and clean spots ASAP before they has a chance to set in.  It is best to use a solvent based cleaner if you have it on hand.

“O” means the material is organic, and should be washed using cold water.


This code isn’t often seen anymore, but it does appear frequently on fabric blinds and shades.  This means that this item is NOT cleanable and is vacuum ONLY.  Check with a local furniture restoration shop on the best method to clean a piece of this nature. 

Making an investment in new furniture is sometimes a scary endeavor, especially when kids and pets are involved.  Talk to us about our Guardsman Furniture Protection Plans and furnish fearlessly!


Written By:  Cori Logan

Interior Designer, Portfolio Interiors


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