What do Furniture Cleaning Codes Mean?

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by a US Military Veteran

Furniture Cleaning Codes on Furniture Tags

Furniture Cleaning Codes and what they mean

Furniture cleaning codes are recommended cleaning methods from the manufacturer to clean that particular fabric.  These codes are for cleaning professionally.  As they are recommendations, we look to the code for guidance, but not for the final say.  We will sometimes lightly steam a fabric that is solvent only because we know the solvent will not offer a cleaning result that will actually make a visual improvement.  We are guided by our experience on what method to use based on the soil level and cleanability of that particular piece of furniture.  The importance of furniture cleaning cannot be overemphasized; however, the cleaning of furniture varies in technique. In other words, the cleaning procedure or method you might apply to clean particular furniture might not work for another set of furniture depending on the type and make. The essence of cleaning your furniture is to restore it to its new state and also promote maintenance. Have you ever seen some symbols on your fabric furniture tag and wondered what it means? These symbols are known as furniture cleaning codes.
Fabric cleaning codes are symbols on fabric furniture tags that provide you with the right cleaning treatment to give your fabric furniture. These symbols are usually located on your furniture, sometimes in between zippers or buttons. In some cases, your furniture might have more than one code or tags with different instructions, so never believe or conclude your furniture has only one tag as some might be in the pillows or cushions. The most regular cleaning codes that you can find on your fabric furniture are S, SW, W, X. Now for a person who is not knowledgeable about laundry symbols or codes, this might not be easy to understand. So, what do these cleaning codes mean;    

"S" Codes stand for "Solvent" and mean that piece should be cleaned with a dry cleaning solvent.  Do not saturate.  Do not use water.  Pile fabrics may require brushing to restore appearance.  Cushion covers should not be removed and dry cleaned.  This code means it is safe for you to use solvent-based solutions on your fabric furniture, and the furniture mustn't come in contact with water. This is as a result of the fact that water application or any form of wetting will result in the material damaging or shrinking. In other to avoid any damage to the furniture, you must use only solvent-based cleaners. Such furniture supports only dry cleaning, and every stain can be treated with ease. It is essential you keep solvent away from fire and only use it in a well-ventilated room.

"SW" code means the method can be Solvent or Water or even a mixture of the two.  Can be spot cleaned with upholstery shampoo, foam from a mild detergent, or mild dry cleaning solvent.  Do not saturate with liquid.  PIle fabrics may require brushing to restore appearance.  Cushion covers should not be removed and dry cleaned.  This means that your furniture supports the solvent and wet cleaning method for different stains and spots. Wet cleaning tends to remove any form of stain or dirt; however, it is advisable that for oily stains, the use of solvents will be most effective, and for spots, the water-based method of cleaning should be adopted.

"W" code means the method can be a water-based shampoo or foam upholstery cleaner.  Do not over wet. Do not use solvents to spot clean.  Pile fabrics may require brushing to restore appearance.  Cushion covers should not be removed and laundered.  This means you can use a water-based method for cleaning your fabric furniture. It is important to note that the code or symbol doesn't mean the furniture is washing machine safe. The use of plain white towels when applying this cleaning method is the best so as not to stain your furniture with color dye.

"X" code means do not use water or solvent-based cleaners.  Use vacuuming or light brushing only.  If any of your furniture's has the code X, it means that it can be cleaned with the aid of a vacuum cleaner. In other words, the furniture does not support the use of water or solvent-based cleaning method.
It is essential to strictly follow the method that best supports the cleaning of your furniture to prolong life and enhance maintenance.

Unmarked Fabrics - there are a lot of custom pieces of furniture and they do not always have tags on them.  When dealing with unmarked pieces, we err on the side of caution or may test the fabric area to make sure no color bleeding occurs.   

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