Care Label and Care Symbol Guidelines for Garments

Last Updated on 27/04/2021

Understanding Garments Care Label and Care Symbols

Md. Tanvirul Haque Bhuiyan
Dept. of Apparel Manufacturing,
National Institute of Textile Engineering & Research (NITER),
Email: mukutex@gmail.com

 

Care Label:
Care label is a component or trimming of garment which contains some internationally recognized symbols that indicate the care instructions of the garment. These symbols are called care label codes. The care label informs sales personnel and consumers of the appropriate care and treatment of the textile and the other materials used in its production. Correct labelling and careful compliance with the information given on the care label help to ensure a long life for the textile items. Care labels help to prevent irreversible damage to the textile article during its care processes.

The care labels should be used for a wide range of products such as apparel textiles, household textiles, home furnishings, resin-coated fabrics, piece goods made from textiles, suede skins, leathers, and furs. Care labelling used in clothing should provide the consumers enough information on:

  1. Care instructions for clothing and other textile products,
  2. Prior knowledge of care and maintenance costs of the materials such as dry-cleaning,
  3. The processes and conditions to avoid in order to maximize the useful life of clothing and textile products and
  4. Possible damages that can happen such as dyes running out (e.g. wash separately) during care and maintenance.

Guidelines of Care Labelling Systems:
Various care labelling systems are followed worldwide, which may differ in terms of the symbols or the wordings that convey the message. Whatever the system may be, it should follow the following set of guidelines:

  1. All the symbols used in the care labelling system should be placed directly on the article or on a label, which shall be affixed in a permanent manner to the article.
  2. The symbols may be produced by weaving, printing or other processes.
  3. Care labels should be made of a suitable material with resistance to the care treatment indicated in the label at least equal to that of the article on which they are placed.
  4. Labels and symbols should be large enough so that they are easily visible and readable.
  5. All the symbols should be used in the prescribed order, and they denote the maximum permissible treatment.
  6. The consumers should easily understand the symbols irrespective of the language.
  7. The care symbols are applicable to whole of the garment including trimmings, zippers, linings, buttons, etc. unless otherwise mentioned by separate labels.
  8. The care symbols selected should give instructions for the most severe process or treatment the garment can withstand while being maintained in a serviceable condition without causing a significant loss of its properties.
  9. The label, with the symbols and words on it, should be legible throughout the useful life of the garment.
  10. The machines used for washing and drying should be able to provide the conditions mentioned in the care label.
  11. The care labels should not be visible from outside.
  12. They should not be inconvenient or cause irritation to the wearer.
  13. They should be easily visible and not hidden, which would otherwise lead to difficulties in conveying information.
  14. The labels for a particular style should be positioned at one place for the whole lot, either at the back, top or middle.
  15. If not readily seen due to packaging, care information must be repeated on the outside of the package or on a hangtag attached to the product.
  16. It is always not possible to have all the information in one label due to the type of the garment, material and fashion requirements. In these cases it is permissible to go for the second label.
  17. When a garment consists of two or more parts and is always sold as a unit, only one care label can be used if the care instructions are the same for all the pieces. The label should be attached to the major piece of the suit. If the suit pieces require different care instructions or are designed to be sold separately, like coordinates, then each item must have its own care label.

History:
The care label was introduced in Europe about 1950. It’s a voluntary service so it was not regulated by any authority. It originated in The Netherlands and then spread to France and the other European countries as a voluntary service to the consumers offered by the textile and apparel industry. The care labeling code was protected by an international trademark, to control the correct application. The ownership of this international trademark belongs GINETEX, this International Association for Textile Care Labeling, has developed symbolic care labeling system in 1975.

Care label of international brand ‘LEVI’S’
Fig: Care label of international brand ‘LEVI’S’
Care label of Bangladeshi brand ‘CATS EYE'
Fig: Care label of Bangladeshi brand ‘CATS EYE’

International Standard:
ISO 3758 1991 provides a code of reference for the use of these symbols. The GINETEX care labeling system consists of five basic symbols for washing, bleaching, ironing, drying, dry cleaning and an extra symbol for wring. The symbols and their descriptions are shown in the following.

Washing:

Symbol Care Instructions Meaning of Symbols
Machine Wash (normal) Machine Wash (normal) Garment can be washed using hot water, detergent, agitation, and any machine designed for garments washing.
Machine Wash (cold) Machine Wash (cold) Maximum temperature 30°C or 85°F
Rinsing normal
Spinning reduced
Machine Wash (warm) Machine Wash (warm) Maximum temperature 40°C or 100°F
Rinsing normal
Spinning normal
Machine Wash (hot) Machine Wash (hot) Maximum temperature 50°C or 120°F
Rinsing normal
Spinning normal
Machine Wash (hot)60c Machine Wash (hot) Maximum temperature 60°C or 140°F
Rinsing normal
Spinning normal
Machine Wash (hot) 70c Machine Wash (hot) Maximum temperature 70°C or 160°F
Rinsing normal
Spinning normal
Machine Wash (hot) 95c Machine Wash (hot) Maximum temperature 95°C or 200°F
Rinsing normal
Spinning normal
Machine Wash (permanent press) Machine Wash (permanent press) Garment is machine washed only on the setting designed to preserve permanent press with cold rinse prior to reduced spin.
Machine Wash (gentle or delicate) Machine Wash (gentle or delicate) Garment is machine washed only on the setting designed for gentle agitation and reduced time for delicate items.
Hand Wash Hand Wash Garment is washed through the use of water, detergent and hand manipulation.
Do not wash Do not wash Garment can’t be safely washed by any process. Dry cleaning is applied.

Bleaching:

Symbol Care Instructions Meaning of Symbols
Bleaching is allowed Bleaching is allowed Any commercially available bleaching agent can be used.
Only chlorine bleaching is allowed Only chlorine bleaching is allowed Only chlorine bleaching agent can be used.
Only non-chlorine bleaching is allowed Only non-chlorine bleaching is allowed Only non-chlorine, color-safe bleaching agent can be used.
Bleaching is not allowed Bleaching is not allowed  Bleaching agent can’t be used. The garment is not colorfast or structurally able to withstand any bleach.

Drying:

Symbol Care Instructions Meaning of Symbols
Tumble dry (normal) Tumble dry (normal) Machine dryer is used at the hottest available temperature setting.
Tumble dry (normal , low heat) Tumble dry (normal, low heat) Machine dryer is used at a low heat setting.
Tumble dry (normal , medium heat) Tumble dry (normal, medium heat) Machine dryer is used at a medium heat setting.
Tumble dry (normal , high heat) Tumble dry (normal, high heat) Machine dryer is used at a high heat setting.
Tumble dry (normal , no heat) Tumble dry (normal, no heat) Machine dryer is used at no heat or air only setting.
Tumble dry (permanent press) Tumble dry (permanent press) Machine dryer is used at the permanent press setting.
Tumble dry (gentle) Tumble dry (gentle) Machine dryer is used at the gentle setting.
Do not tumble dry Do not tumble dry Machine dryer is not used. Usually accompanied by an alternate drying method symbol
Do not dry Do not dry Machine dryer is not used. Usually accompanied by an alternate drying method symbol
Line dry Line dry Hang wet garment from bar, in or out doors. We use this in our country, it means hanging our dresses in rooftop for drying.
Drip dry Drip dry Hang dripping wet garment from bar, in or out doors, without hand shaping or smoothing.
Dry flat Dry flat Lay out horizontally for drying.
Dry in shade Dry in shade Can’t dry in direct sunlight.

Ironing:

Symbol Care Instructions Meaning of Symbols
Iron in any temperature (steam or dry) Iron in any temperature (steam or dry) Ironing is required and can be performed at any available temperature with or without steam.
Iron (low) Iron (low) Regular ironing, steam or dry, is performed at low setting (110°C, 230°F).
Iron (medium) Iron (medium) Regular ironing, steam or dry, is performed at medium setting (150°C, 300°F).
Iron (high) Iron (high) Regular ironing, steam or dry, is performed at high setting (200°C, 390°F).
Do not steam Do not steam Steam ironing will harm garment, but regular dry ironing at indicated temperature setting is acceptable.
Do not iron Do not iron Ironing is not allowed. Garment can’t be smoothed or finished with an iron.

Dry Cleaning:

Symbol Care Instructions Meaning of Symbols
Dry clean Dry clean Dry cleaning in any solvent, any cycle any moisture, any heat.
Dry clean (any solvent) Dry clean (any solvent) Dry cleaning in any solvent. Usually used with other restrictions on proper dry cleaning procedure.
Dry clean (any solvent, except trichloroethylene) Dry clean (any solvent, except trichloroethylene) Any dry cleaning solvent except trichloroethylene can be safely used. Usually para-chloro-ethylene, white spirit of solvent-113 is used.
Dry clean (petroleum solvent ) Dry clean (petroleum solvent ) Dry cleaning is done using only petroleum solvent. Usually used with other restrictions. White spirit of solvent-113 is used.
Dry clean (reduced moisture) Dry clean (reduced moisture) Can be used with A, P, F solvent restriction.
Dry clean (short cycle) Dry clean (short cycle) Can be used with A, P, F solvent restriction.
Dry clean (no steam) Dry clean (no steam) Can be used with A, P, F solvent restriction.
Dry clean (low heat) Dry clean (low heat) Can be used with A, P, F solvent restriction.
Do not dry clean Do not dry clean Dry cleaning is not allowed.

Wring:

Symbol Care Instructions Meaning of Symbols
Do not wring Do not wring Wring is not allowed.

Notes:

  • System of dots indicating that temperature range is same for all procedures.
  • If there is no bleaching symbol mentioned, it means any type of bleach is allowed.
  • GINETEX states that “milder forms of treatment and lower temperatures than those indicated on the label are always permitted.”
  • A cross on any of the symbol means that the treatment shall not be used and a bar under the symbols indicates milder treatment is required.

References:

  1. Garment Manufacturing Technology Edited by Rajkishore Nayak and Rajiv Padhye
  2. http://www.iso.org
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laundry_symbol
  4. http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/garment/apparel/10krues.pdf
  5. http://www.care-labelling.co.uk/whatsymbolsmean.html
  6. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/05/european-fabric-care-symbols_n_1255441.html

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