Welcome back to our first (of many) fashion and fabric educational blog posts! Have you ever wondered why we have care labels on our clothing? Have you ever wondered how to READ those care labels? Washed a shirt and it now looks NOTHING like it did? Today’s post is for you. I am sharing all the details on those little white labels with what feels like ancient hieroglyphics on them. From what they mean, why they’re there, and I even include a cheat sheet for you to save for the future!
I have been in the corporate fashion world in some shape or form for going on 5 years now. I even at one point helped create the care labels and merchandise tags on and off in one of my roles! One thing that always struck me were the symbols. Up until I took textiles as a college student, I never was quite sure what they meant. When I finally saw the entire chart with meanings laid out, it all clicked! The symbols mean something, and will help ensure you keep your garments looking fresh and like new their entire lifetime!
Why do we need a care label?
Care labels are actually required by the FTC to ensure that the fibers, care instructions, country of origin, and manufacturing identity are on all garments. The only items excluded are footwear, gloves, hats or other articles used exclusively to cover or protect the head or hands. Essentially, these tags are our instruction manuals for how to care for our garments. Care labels started to be required in 1971, after the FTC passed the Care Label Ruling. According to the FTC website, the last update on the Care Label Ruling was in July 1998. Currently, you cannot sell clothing items in the US without these tags. If you’re interested (like I was) about even more do’s and don’t of the care label requirements by FTC, check out the official page here!
What are the 5 required symbols?
A care symbol, is a pictogram indicating the manufacturer’s suggestions as to methods of washing, drying, dry-cleaning and ironing clothing. These indicate how a particular item should best be cleaned. Currently, the major 5 are washing, bleaching, drying, ironing, and fabric care. These symbols are depicted with items that are easy to determine ad are depicted as follows:
- Washing: a trapezoid-shaped tub with squiggly lines representing water
- Bleaching: a triangle
- Drying: a square
- Ironing: an iron
- Textile Care: a circle
On your care label, you’ll find one of each of these symbols depicted to explain how to care for your garment. Each symbol has a few different meanings, and honestly even as a professional, I don’t have them all memorized. BUT, I do have a cheat sheet that helps me know the do’s and don’ts of my care labels!
Why should I care about my care label?
No pun intended, caring about your care label helps ensure the health and longevity of your clothing items. Besides this, care labels can help you the buyer make purchase decisions! If you don’t live near a sustainable dry cleaner or don’t dry clean at all, you probably would avoid cashmere, wool suitings, and any other dry clean only items. Instead, lean towards a washable silk from One Quince or reach for a hand wash only item for your nicer wardrobe items! The last thing you want is to destroy an expensive fabric! That’s just one of the many reasons reading and Understanding a care label is so vital.
The final verdict…
Care labels are required by law, but understanding them is vital to the longevity and health of your garments. When you can read and understand care labels, you’ll be able to care for your garments correctly and save money in the long run! Understanding the labels means that you can make smarter purchasing decissions for your laundry habits as well. When it comes to washing too, I love using TruEarth detergent strips and dryer balls for a clean and eco friendly clean with all my garments! Plus their laundry subscription is based on a giveback mission with every subscription purchased one is donated to an organization in need of laundry care.
Want to save the graphic for on the go use? Pin it to your Pinterest and you’re sure to never loose it!