How To Wash Upholstery Fabric

Washing upholstery fabric can be intimidating as certain fabrics can be fragile in high heat and can't be cleaned with water. It is important to always check the cleaning code for your fabric before choosing how to wash it. There are four different codes for fabric that will tell you what type of detergent to use, if it can be washed with water, or if it should only be cleaned by a professional, according to Woodstock Furniture & Mattress Outlet.

Fabrics marked with a W are the easiest to clean because it is safe to use water and water-based detergents on them. Meanwhile, S fabrics are the opposite as they cannot be washed with water, making them dry-clean only. Instead, they require a water-free solvent. If a fabric is marked with a WS, it can be cleaned with both types of cleansers. Fabrics with the code, X, are the hardest to clean at home because they can't be washed with either type of cleanser. They should only be washed by a professional, but can be vacuumed. Once you know the fabric code of your upholstery, you can choose the best method to wash it. 

Wash W and WS upholstery fabrics in the washing machine

Upholstery fabrics that are marked with a W or WS can be safely washed in a washing machine, as long as you choose the correct settings and use the right laundry detergent. Revolution Fabrics recommends setting your washing machine to a cold water cycle. This is because upholstery fabrics are sensitive to temperature. If the water is set to hot, you run the risk of melting the fabric. Choosing which laundry detergent to use is also important because many commercial detergents contain dyes that could stain your upholstery fabric. Instead, use a natural, non-dyed, or sensitive detergent that is clear or milky in color.

After your fabric has been cleaned in the washing machine, you can throw it in a dryer set to low heat or hang it on a drying rack. The latter is the better option because you won't run the risk of shrinking the fabric from the heat of the dryer. If your fabric is very thick, another option is to partially dry it in the machine and then allow it to finish air drying.

Baking soda cleans S and X upholstery fabrics

Upholstery fabrics marked with an S or X should be washed at a dry cleaner, but there are at-home methods to freshen them up without water. One of these methods uses baking soda and a vacuum. Baking soda is effective at removing dirt, oils, and odors from upholstery fabric because it is a base that balances acidic odors to neutralize the smell stuck in a fabric (via Ace Rug Cleaning Company).

To use this water-free method, pour a thin layer of baking soda over your fabric. Then leave it to absorb for at least an hour, according to How to Clean The longer you leave the baking soda, the better it will work. When you're ready to remove it from the fabric, use a vacuum with an upholstery attachment. If there are still some lingering odors or spots of dirt, repeat this method.