A Guide to Upholstery Cleaning and Care

19th Mar 2019

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Upholstery Cleaning 101: Everything You Need to Know About Upholstery and Leather Cleaning

When you own upholstered furniture, it’s never too early to start thinking about spring cleaning. In addition to the obvious heavy lifts like shampooing the carpet, washing windows, and reorganizing the pantry, you might consider a deep cleaning for your upholstered furniture. Not only does regular upholstery cleaning keep your favorite pieces looking fresh, but it also helps them last longer. Dirt particles are abrasive and over time can weaken textile fibers and dramatically shorten the upholstery's life.

leather upholstery cleaning tips

When cleaning upholstery, it's essential to use the correct method for that particular fabric. The letters printed on the tags can clue you into what products to use. Here's what you need to know to crack the code on upholstery cleaning and care:


When you see S, think "Solvent" or "Something Other Than Water." This means you can clean using a solvent-based cleaner like K2R Spotlifter, Carbona, or Resolve, but be careful not to saturate the piece. You should not use water to clean these pieces and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, you should not remove the cushion covers and have them dry cleaned. 


When you see W, think "Water." These pieces should be cleaned only with water-based shampoos or upholstery cleaners such as Glamorene, Glory, Blue Lustre, or Woolite. Again, take care not to over-saturate. Avoid using solvents, even for spot cleaning. Do not remove the cushion covers for laundering. Upholstery Care

WS or SW:

Think options when you see WS or SW! This means you can use your favorite cleaner — whether that's a solvent or a shampoo – to spot clean. Most American Leather upholstery fabrics carry the WS or SW code. The best strategy is to start with a water-based product before turning to solvents. Especially when using a new product, you will want to test it out on an inconspicuous spot and let it dry to ensure there is no fading or color transfer. 

Upholstery Care - Leather

DC or X:

DC indicates dry clean only, while X means it's time to vacuum or brush lightly. These are uncommon care instructions, but it's best to call in the pros if you see them.  

For more information on upholstery cleaning, leather couch cleaning, and more, feel free to reference our  Leather & Upholstery page, which has additional Upholstery Cleaning & Care Tips located at the bottom.