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Care Label Basics

Comforters are not required to carry care labels.

Q: I just drycleaned a multi-color comforter that faded badly and my customer is very upset. It did not have a care label, so I assumed it would be all right to dryclean. What is the law about this care label stuff?

A: The Federal Trade Commission's Care Labeling Rule requires that manufacturers and importers of textile wearing apparel possess, prior to sale, a reasonable basis for care instructions. This "reasonable basis" includes:

  • tests
  • current technical literature
  • past experience
  • industry expertise

Most wearing apparel only is covered under this rule. There are some exceptions to the rule which include footwear, gloves, hats, neckties, belts, leather and suede apparel, and in your case household articles. Also, items sold to institutional buyers for commercial use are exempt from care label requirements.


Some other items need not have a permanently affixed care label, but care instructions must be provided at the point of sale either by a hang tag or some type of temporary label. These include reversible garments with no pockets, hosiery, anklets, tights, leg warmers and other similar items. Any article that can be washed or drycleaned by the strongest possible method without harm need not have a care instruction.


Piece goods for home-sewn apparel only needs the care information provided on the end of the bolt or roll or stamped on the fabric's selvedge.


There you have the basics of the Care Label Rule. When in doubt, always test when possible and discuss the results with the consumer prior to proceeding with any alternative cleaning procedure. You can only appear like an expert by talking about possible problems prior to any damage from cleaning; this is almost never the case if you wait until the damage has already occurred to address it with your customer.

Suggested Reading
DLI Silver, Gold, and Premier members may access more information on this topic in the following bulletins, and many others, available in DLI's Encyclopedia of Drycleaning Online:

Industry Focus: Care Label Rule
Industry Focus: Care Label Symbols

Posted By Harry Kimmel | 9/8/2015 3:03:21 PM