Upholstery Cleaning Guide

Everything You Should Know About Upholstery Cleaning

upholstery cleaning

In this article we are going to discuss upholstery cleaning. Mainly we are going to provide a complete guide for a professional upholstery technique. A lot of these techniques can and should be used by a housekeeper at home without any help of upholstery cleaner services. However, if you are willing to hire an upholstery cleaner this information is still going to be an essential for you as an upholstery owner  and keeper.

Some people take so little time in order to clean up their upholstery. Imagine if you were so lazy with your clothes. Well, why should the upholstery be less relevant for you. We eat on them, sleep on them basically live on them and the amount of dust and soil materials that it accumulates on its surface throughout the time is critical and all the upholstery should be most definitely be cleaned at least couple of times per year.

What you need to know before starting an upholstery cleaning process?

First and foremost you have to know what are you dealing with and for this reason you should introduce yourself to cleaning codes and the materials which your upholstery use as a fabric.

Cleaning codes:

There are four major cleaning codes and they can be found somewhere on the back side of the upholstery. Manufacturers make sure to write down the cleaning code on each and every upholstery according to standard. However, some handmade exclusive upholstery may not have them for obvious reasons.

For major cleaning codes are:

W; S; WS; X;

Basically, these cleaning codes tell us what chemicals can be used and how can they be sued in order to properly clean our upholstery and not damage them.

W:  water-based cleaning agents or foam may be used. Never use tap water. Use distilled water, as tap water contains minerals that may cause rings or fading. Cleaning code X can be often found on materials like cotton, wool, silk – basically on high end products.

S: Only mild, water-free cleaning solvents should be used. Never use water. Do not dry clean in parts. Cleaning code S may be often seen on men made fiber products like nylon stuff and alike.

WS: As the name suggest WS is a combination of above two cleaning codes.  Water-based cleaning agents, foam or mild water-free cleaning solvents may be used. Never use tap water. Use distilled water as tap water contains minerals that may cause rings or fading. The cleaning code WS can be found on mixed upholstery of high-end fabrics and men made ones.

X: The cleaning code X is something you may have never to deal with, because they are very rare and you do not get them a lot. Clean only by vacuuming or light brushing to remove overall soil. Never use water, foam or liquid cleaning agents. Keep in mind that if your upholstery has a cleaning code X written on it you should be very careful while choosing the upholstery cleaning technique or upholstery cleaner service.

Now after we have a brief understanding of upholstery cleaning codes we can move a bit forward and learn the cleaning process itself.

As a lot of upholstery cleaner professionals, we also like to break down the cleaning process to the basic steps. Let’s look at the ten (10) steps of the cleaning process and ten (10) cleaning tools that we have to have with us in order to complete the cleaning steps.

Upholstery cleaning steps:

  1. Inspect
  2. Identify
  3. Test
  4. Pre-qualify
  5. Dust
  6. Pre-vacuum
  7. Pre-Spray
  8. Agitate
  9. Clean
  10. Groom

Upholstery Cleaning tools:

  1. Stained – RE-CIR tools
  2. Vacuum
  3. Horse-hair brush
  4. 2qt Sprayer
  5. Soil, citrus spotters
  6. Solvent bar
  7. Neutral cleaner
  8. Drop cloth
  9. Terry cloth towel
  10. Foldable table.

The whole upholstery cleaning process comes down to these 10 steps and tools that should be used while completing the steps.

Inspect: Look at the upholstery as a whole. What is there to clean and what is there that is damaged so much that is impossible to fix. Have a brief overall idea of where you are heading with the cleaning process.


Identify: What is the material of the upholstery and what are the cleaning codes. Choose proper chemistry to use, even though modern chemicals are covering almost 99% percent of the materials available out there.

Test it: Test the spot on the back of the upholstery. Look how it reacts to the cleaning mixture in order to minimize the chances of unwanted damage.

Pre-qualify: After you have inspected, tested and identified the upholstery you should have an idea of what the expectations should be. This step is very important when dealing with upholstery cleaner companies.

Dust: Using the brush remove all the dust layer.

Pre-vacuum: Using the cleaner pre-vacuum the whole surface.

Pre-spray: Evenly spray the surface of the upholstery.

Agitate: Use your horse-hair brush to evenly agitate the spray

Clean: Use the cleaning machine and clean the upholstery.

Groom: Brush and groom the upholstery with your horse-hair brush.