What do Those Codes on Furniture Tags Really Mean?
Look under the cushions of a typical piece of upholstered furniture and you will usually find a fabric care tag. This tag should include an indication of the recommended procedures for maintenance and routine cleaning of that particular piece of furniture. Part of the tag will likely assure you that all new materials were used; this is a reference to the stuffing inside the piece. What you want to know, more, is how to keep this piece of furniture looking its best, so look for another tag.
The Cleaning Tag
You should find a tag that specifically lists a cleaning code. Before we go into what these codes mean, please note that these tags and codes are merely a guideline to assist you in spot cleaning only. The tag is also an indication to the professional cleaner how to avoid color loss, bleeding, browning or shrinkage during cleaning.
Fabrics are made from a variety of fibers including cotton, polyester, silk, rayon, nylon, polypropylene, acetate, acrylic, wool and blends thereof. They can be woven in a variety of ways, as well as having an unlimited array of dye methods, colors and patterns. All of these different combinations make avoiding possible cleaning reactions very challenging, but possible – if you know what you’re doing!
Improper selection of cleaning agents or methods can lead to permanent damage to fabrics. An example is crushed velvet. If it is treated improperly, it can lose its softness, luster and crimp. This sort of damage is irreversible. Many floral or multicolored patterns are printed on the fabric rather than woven into it. Extra care must be taken when cleaning these as the colors are only on the surface. The wrong chemical can actually remove the printed dyes, or destabilize them to the point that the colors run into each other. Again, this is uncorrectable.
So, effective and safe cleaning of your upholstered furniture means knowing how to clean it. Part of that requires deciphering the code, so here are the cleaning codes and their meanings:
W: This codes tells you to spot clean only with water based shampoo or foam upholstery cleaner. If your tag has a “W” be careful not to over wet the area or use any solvents.
S: This codes tells you the opposite of “W” – it says to spot clean only with a water free dry cleaning solvent. But remember to always pretest a small, inconspicuous area before proceeding. Be careful not to over saturate the material or to use any water.
WS or SW: When you see this tag spot clean with upholstery shampoo, foam from a mild detergent, or mild dry cleaning solvent.
X: This is a really important one which means to clean only by vacuuming or light brushing with a non-metallic, stiff bristle brush. Never use any water or solvent-based cleaners on furniture that has this tag.
No matter what tag you see, remember these basic suggestions:
• Always clean spills promptly, and call Hansen Steam Way if you are in doubt.
• Never rub, but rather blot up liquids to avoid damaging the furniture.
• Always start cleaning from the outside of the stain, working your way in, to avoid spreading the stain.
• Do not remove cushion covers for cleaning as they may shrink or misshape and not go back on properly.