Care Labels

What’s the care labeling rule?

The Care Labeling Rule was issued by the Federal Trade Commission in 1971 to help consumers with clothing care. The rule states that manufacturers must tag their clothing with at least one safe cleaning method. Beginning July 1, 1997, manufacturers may use certain care symbols in place of words on labels. These symbols and their meanings are explained on the chart above and in the link at the bottom of this page. Symbols and their written meaning will be required for eighteen months. After January 1998, only symbols can be used by the manufacturer.

What information is required on the care label?

Care labels for textile wearing apparel must provide either washing or dry cleaning instructions. Only one safe method of care is required to be provided by the manufacturer. The label must also warn you against any procedure that might harm the item during reasonable care. For example, the label must say whether any step of the care method, washing, bleaching, drying, ironing, or dry cleaning could harm the garment or other garments cleaned with it.

Are there any other symbols?

The symbols shown on the reverse side of this publication are approved for use throughout North America. There is not an internationally recognized care label system at the present time. Clothing manufactured in countries outside North America may use different symbols.

Does washable also mean my garment can be dry cleaned?

Not always. Only one safe method of care has to be listed on the label by the manufacturer. The label does not have to warn about other cleaning methods which might prove unsafe. For example, clothing labeled “washable” may not dry clean well.