How to Clean Type W Sofa Fabric

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. Learn more about our affiliate and product review process here.

From date night in to movie night with the family, your sofa gets a lot of traffic throughout the week. Don't grab just any cleaner when it's time to freshen up your favorite spot or clean up a spill. The fabric cleaning code tells you what's safe to use. Type W upholstery is the easiest to clean since it's designed for water-based fabric cleaner options, from steam cleaners to soapy water.


Types of Sofa Fabric

Every sofa should have a fabric cleaning code listed on the tag. Check under your sofa cushions if they're removable or underneath the sofa for the tag. It should have one of four cleaning codes, including:

Video of the Day

  • W:​ The W indicates that you can use a water-based cleaning agent or foam. This includes steam cleaners.

  • S:​ If your sofa has an S cleaning code, you can only use water-free cleaning solvents.

  • S/W:​ This type of upholstery is safe to clean with either water-based furniture cleaner or solvents.

  • X:​ An X means you can't use water-based or solvent cleaners. The only safe cleaning option is vacuuming or brushing the fabric.


Vacuuming the Sofa

If your type W sofa is just a little dusty, grab your vacuum cleaner with upholstery attachments to clean it. If your cushions are removable, take them off the couch to vacuum the platform. Vacuum all sides of each cushion before putting it back on the sofa. If the cushions are attached, use the crevice tool to clean between them and the upholstery attachment to clean all of the fabric surfaces.


Spot Cleaning Stained Areas

If you have a stain or dirty spot, you can create a simple water-based cleaning solution to tackle it. Grab a bucket of cold water and add a few drops of laundry soap to create a soapy solution. Use a clean cloth to blot at the stained or dirty area. Using a white cloth is best, especially on light-colored sofa fabric since dye from colored rags can transfer to the sofa.


When cleaning the spot, blot gently to prevent damage to the fabric. Rubbing can damage it or leave marks on the fabric. Use a dry cloth and blot more to soak up the excess moisture. Let the fabric dry and use a vacuum to fluff up the fabric nap and make the cleaned spot blend in with the rest of the sofa.

Steam Cleaning the Sofa

Another option is to steam clean or shampoo your sofa fabric to freshen it if it has a type W fabric. Many carpet cleaners also work on upholstery. Use distilled water in the upholstery cleaner along with a cleaning detergent designed for upholstery.


Steam cleaners typically work by spraying clean water and detergent onto the fabric. You then run the attachment over the fabric to suck up the dirty water, which goes into a separate tank. You can use this method for spot cleaning or to clean and freshen the entire sofa.

Washing Removable Cushion Covers

If your sofa has removable cushion covers, you might be able to toss them in the washing machine. Verify that the fabric is machine-washable before trying this. Even if the sofa has type W upholstery, it doesn't automatically mean the fabric is machine-washable.


If it's machine-washable, use cold water and a gentle cycle to protect the fabric. It's best to let the fabric air dry. Synthetic fabrics can especially be damaged by the heat of a dryer. Slip them back onto the cushions before they're fully dry.



Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...