Care Labels are Often Missing from Bedspreads

By: Beverly Marshall

A comforter can be used for the winter months but the bedspread is brought out of the linen closet in the spring when it's warming up and the whole world is freshening and renewing itself. A bedspread is available in most any color, pattern or fabric and it can be one of the most expensive items you put in your bedroom. The government has specific care labeling rules when it comes to clothing etc. Did you know that these expensive pieces of fabric do not fall under the rule? The Care Label Rule of 1971 requires clothing manufacturers and importers to attach care labels to their products. They must give full instructions on how to satisfactorily care for the products, or clearly state that it cannot be cleaned. The label also needs to warn against things that could be harmful such as using an iron or using hot water. I have been surprised on more than one occasion when the label said dry clean only and I would have thrown it in the washing machine. Often, care instructions are on a temporary label, a piece of paper in the plastic, hang tag, or somewhere on the package so check clearly before you throw any packaging.

If the care label is missing, what is the best way to proceed to clean the bedspread? Things you can do to ensure a beautiful bedspread for many years of wear are, make sure the spread has been preshrunk. Fabric can shrink two or three percent very easily if it has not been properly stabilized by the manufacturer. Your bedspread will look like it's sized for a twin bed very quickly if it shrinks that much. Check the quality of stitches if you have a quilted bedspread. The first preference would be for stitching to run vertically and horizontally with the stitches running only eight to ten inches apart. Make sure that the stitches are the correct length as well. Loose stitching can tear easily and allow fiber fill to shift when it is washed or dry cleaned. Check the fiber content of the batting. If you see wool on a label, take note that it will probably shrink in the washing machine. The filling of your beautiful new bedspread could also become puckered if it has heat sensitive fibers. If this is the case, you may wash it in cold, but don't dry it in the dryer, or at least a very cool one. If the bedspread you have chosen is a chintz material, it will have a luster to the finish. This finish is actually a glaze that may have a limited staying power. Once the spread is washed or cleaned, the glaze may come off and your spread will be dull and chalky or pill. Fabrics can fade over time especially if the bed is located near a window. Nothing you can do short of pulling shades will stop this process. A dry cleaner can perform a colorfast test and better quality bedspreads should be colorfast. Clean all of the matching pillow shams, dust ruffles and curtains together with the spread because the colors won't "fade" the same if you don't. These are pretty large so you may not be able to put it in the conventional washing machine. Don't risk your investment, if you are unsure how to care for your new spread, take it to a professional cleaner.

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