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Where's the Care Label for my New Bedspread?

I love bedspreads, don't you? 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 outside. 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. Did you know that these expensive pieces of fabric do not fall under the Care Label 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 one time, 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 love the care labels because it gives me a clear indication of how to clean things. 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. You may find care instructions on a temporary label, a piece of paper in the plastic, hang tag, or somewhere on the package so check clearly before you throw anything away.

Okay, the care label is gone so what do you do to clean your bedspread? Things you can do to ensure a beautiful bedspread for many years of wear and care 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. What is the fiber content of the batting? If you see wool on a label anywhere for the batting, 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. It could even start to 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. If the fabric is not yard dyed, fading will also occur.

Many times the material is not colorfast or heat set by the manufacturer and it will also fade. A dry cleaner can perform a colorfast test. I have found you pretty much get what you pay for. That is an assumption, but the 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.

Bev Marshall is a successful freelance writer offering guidance and suggestions for consumers buying mattresses, baby bedding, bedding, duvet covers and more. Her many articles can be found at She gives information and tips at to help you save money, make informed buying decisions and common sense ideas for changing your life.

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