Although it's not a complicated cipher, a code likely came attached to your couch that you have to decipher to learn how to clean it safely. The letter code also helps you determine which deep-cleaning practice works best for the furniture's upholstery type. Locate the care tag and code -- typically affixed to a cushion or the couch's underside -- to get started.
Always spot-test an upholstery cleaning product or method for colorfastness and possible damage in an inconspicuous area before using it on the entire piece.
"W" Is for Water-Based
Clean a couch labeled W using water-based upholstery shampoo or foam. For general spot cleaning or basic stain removal, use a soft-bristled brush, but to deep-clean stubborn marks, use a stiff-bristled brush and only as much pressure as needed, working from the outside in. For all-over deep cleaning, have W-type upholstery cared for professionally; hiring an in-home furniture-cleaning company means you don't have to do any heavy lifting or hauling.
"S" Is for Dry-Cleaning Solvent
For S-coded upholstery, steer clear of water-based cleaners, opting instead for a dry shampoo or a dry-cleaning solvent, but even then, go easy. Again, work from the outside in when tackling a stubborn stain to avoid blossoming or spreading the stain's color. After removing marks, use a nylon- or other nonmetal-bristled brush to fluff the pile, if needed.
No Letter for Leather
Leather may not have a care-and-cleaning code, but it's relatively easy to wash. Although you can simply use a damp cloth for light, everyday cleaning, gentle liquid hand soap is better for tougher jobs. Mix 1-part soap with 1-part distilled water, and lather the couch with a soft cloth or sponge, but use only as much as needed to avoid stripping the color or drying out the natural material. Rinse the leather with a damp cloth, and dry it with a soft, absorbent towel. Serious stains or ground-in grime require professional attention for the safest results.
"X" Is for Caution
Code X upholstery is delicate, so, if you can't get this material as clean as you'd like with just a vacuum's upholstery attachment or soft-bristled brush, have it professionally cleaned. Regularly vacuuming any upholstery -- weekly, or so -- lifts dirt and particles that otherwise grind into the fibers, and it often alleviates the need for deep-cleaning methods.
Lorna Hordos is a home-flipping business owner and freelance writer. She writes friendly, conversational business, home and lifestyle articles for Bizfluent, azcentral, Daltile, Marazzi, Lowes, Philips Lighting, WordPress.com and numerous other publications.