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How to Clean Leather and Fabric Upholstered Furniture

When it comes to cleaning your upholstery furniture, it can be hard to know where to start and how to do it right. We all know vacuuming with a brush attachment is an easy way to prevent soiling from dust and grime. But what happens when a deeper clean is needed? If you properly follow the cleaning instructions for each piece of furniture and the fabric it's upholstered in, you will preserve your furniture and extend its lifespan.

So, how do you know right from wrong when it comes to fabric cleaning? Enter fabric cleaning codes. Fabric cleaning codes determine the best and least expensive methods of home cleaning for your furniture. Due to the various ways that furniture can be stained or damaged, there is no guarantee that the results will be completely successful. Use the suggested methods at your own discretion, and use a professional cleaning service when an overall soiled condition has been reached.

Step 1: Locate the Cleaning Code

Cleaning codes on upholstered furniture are typically found under the seat cushions (if they are removable), or on the platform that the cushions sit on. Not there? Try checking underneath the piece for a sewn-in label, or on any tags that came attached to it. If, for some reason, you still cannot find the cleaning code, you can try checking the manufacturers website.

Step 2: Interpret the Cleaning Code

CODE:

DESCRIPTION:

W

WATER BASED CLEANER

Spot clean using the foam only from a water-based upholstery cleaning agent or non-solvent upholstery shampoo product. Do not use solvents to spot clean. This is NOT the same as being machine washable.

S

SOLVENT CLEANER
Spot clean using mild water-free solvent or dry-cleaning product. Do not saturate. Do not use water

WS

WATER/SOLVENT CLEANER
Spot clean with a mild solvent, an upholstery shampoo, or the foam from a mild detergent. Do not saturate with liquid. For overall dirt, contact a professional to clean.

X

VACUUM ONLY
Do not use water-based foam cleaners or solvent-based cleaning agents of any kind, as they may cause excessive shrinking, staining or distortion of the surface pile.

F, F-, P, P-, D

DRY CLEAN ONLY
Professional dry cleaning is recommended.

V

This material should be washed with mild soap in warm water only.

LEATHER (includes faux leather)

Only use manufacturer-recommended cleaners. Use leather conditioner every six to 12 months.

Step 3: Test First

While you may be tempted to skip this step, it is important to always pretest on a small area of the fabric before going all in and cleaning the entire piece. This will reveal any issues that may occur before you have a bigger problem on your hands. The trick is to first pick a small, inconspicuous area on your furniture as a test to see if any damage occurs as a result.

Clean According to the Cleaning Code

Now that you know cleaning as directed will not have any adverse effects, it’s time to get down to it with this step-by-step guide, complete with DO’s and DO NOT’S:

+ Water-Based Cleaner

DO: Use only the foam from a water-based upholstery cleaning agent or non-solvent upholstery shampoo product.

1. Spot clean only. Do not over-saturate.
2. Apply foam with a brush in a circular motion.
3. Vacuum when dry.
*Pile fabrics may require brushing in order to restore appearance.

DO NOT:
- Do not remove cushion covers to dry clean or launder them. This cleaning code does NOT indicate that the fabric is machine washable.

+ Solvent Cleaner

DO: Use a mild, water-free solvent or dry-cleaning product

1. Clean only in a well-ventilated room and avoid flames.
2. Spot clean only. Do not saturate.
*Pile fabrics may require brushing in order to restore appearance.

DO NOT:
- Do not use water.
- Do not use any product containing Carbon Tetrachloride or other toxic materials.
- Do not remove cushion covers to dry clean or launder them.

+ Water/Solvent Cleaner

DO: Use a mild solvent, an upholstery shampoo, or the foam from a mild detergent.

1. Clean only in a well-ventilated room.
2. When using a solvent or dry-cleaning product, follow the instructions carefully.
3. Spot clean only. Do not saturate with liquid.
*Pile fabrics may require brushing in order to restore appearance.

DO NOT:
- Do not use any product containing Carbon Tetrachloride or other toxic materials.
- Do not remove cushion covers to dry clean or launder them.

+ Vacuum Only

1. Clean this fabric only by vacuuming or light brushing to prevent accumulation of dust and grime.

DO NOT use water-based foam cleaners or solvent-based cleaning agents of any kind.

+ Cleaning Code “V”

1. This material should be washed with mild soap in warm water only.

DO NOT use full-strength soap or liquid cleaning agents or any type.

+ Leather (includes faux leather)

DO: Only use manufacturer-recommended cleaners and/or conditioners.

Leather Cleaner:
1. Use a cloth damp with the recommended leather cleaner to avoid over-saturation.
2. Carefully dry the leather with another clean, dry cloth.

Leather Conditioner:
1. Use a manufacturer-recommended leather conditioner every six to 12 months.
2. Use a cloth damp with the leather conditioner to avoid over-saturation.
3. Use circular motions starting at the top of the furniture and working your way down.
4. Let it sit.
5. Take a dry cloth and buff the leather, using circle motions again.

DO NOT:
- Do not use abrasive cleaners or brushes.
- Generally, leather cleaners with oils, soaps, and detergents are not recommended.

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