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Cleaning Codes for Household Fabrics

I’m admitting my guilt, and Mike Taylor is going to be irritated with me.  I sometimes remove a tag from a pillow, a cushion, or a comforter because I don’t like seeing the tag; it simply ruins the décor plan for the room.  Mike once told me that doing this was his biggest pet peeve.  “We need to know whether to wash or dry clean a comforter, and sometimes we can’t determine that without the tag.  If we do the wrong process, it could damage the item,” explained Mike.

But what’s worse is when a textile item doesn’t come with a care label, and that could happen to you because upholstery is not covered under the FTC’S Care Label Rule, so labeling of furniture is voluntary.  A Cleaner World doesn’t deal much with upholstered items, because most upholstered items are not meant to be cleaned using our methods.  There are, however, some exceptions when it comes to things like slip covers.  But we still wanted to give you some information because inevitably, someone is going to get something on your sofa or favorite chair.  Below is a list of codes chosen by fabric manufacturers as the preferred method of cleaning:

W - Clean soiled areas only with the foam from a water-based cleaning agent, like a mild detergent or upholstery shampoo product. Apply foam in a circular motion. Vacuum when dry.

X - Clean fabric only by vacuuming or light brushing to prevent dust and grime from accumulating. Water-based foam or cleaning agents of any kind may cause shrinking, fading, or distortion.

S – Have this fabric cleaned by a professional furniture cleaning service only. Use of water-based or detergent-based cleaners may cause excessive shrinking, and water stains may become permanent. To prevent overall soiling, frequent vacuuming or light brushing is recommended to remove dust and grime.

W-S - Clean soiled areas with a mild solvent or a water-based cleaning agent. Avoid any product that contains carbon tetrachloride. You may also use an upholstery shampoo product or the foam from a mild detergent. With either method, pretest a small area before proceeding. Use a professional furniture cleaner when an overall soiled condition is reached.

Finally, Mike shares a few extra tips:

  • If you don’t like the tag showing, take a safety pin and pin the tag up underneath so it doesn’t show.  Never removed a tag.
  • If the item doesn’t come with recommendations, contact the manufacturer to see if you can get cleaning recommendations.
  • Always be sure to test any products or cleaning methods in an inconspicuous area before continuing. 
  • Never remove cushion covers for separate cleaning or washing. Any tumble cleaning method can destroy the back, cause shrinkage, or damage upholstery fabric.


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