Care instructions are small solutions to big problems. Care labels provide guidelines to consumers about apparel care, and the best cleaning procedures to be used for a particular combination of fabric, thread decoration and construction techniques. Following the instructions on the care labels is an assurance that the appearance and fit of the garment will be maintained after repeated cleaning treatments.
From a manufacturer’s point of view, damage to garments from incorrect cleaning methods can lead to complaints; costly customer returns and a bad image. Whereas accurate and clearly written care labels can prevent customer dissatisfaction. From a consumer’s point of view, accurate and clearly written care instructions serve as a cleaning guide and influence purchase. Garments with ease of care are often preferred over garments with complicated or difficult to understand care procedures.
Many different care labelling systems have evolved over the world. Some have been established as a governmental regulation, while others are international standards. Not all of them however, are mandatory.
This Bulletin Post is a comprehensive guide to the different care labelling systems, their usage and the newly developed Fabric Performance Codes.
There are five care labelling systems which are generally used on care labels. These systems are:
The International Association for Textile CareLabelling (GINETEX) is the world body which governs care labels since 1975.
Member nations of GINETEX are Belgium, France, Germany, England, Netherlands, Israel, Austria, Switzerland, and Spain.
Its objectives are to:
The GINETEX care labelling system is based on the following principles:
Five basic symbols are used in the International care labelling system in this order:
Note: The symbols for the International Care Labelling System are the same as those listed in the European Care Labelling System.
The Japanese system, like other care labelling systems must have symbols placed in a specified order. Labels should be designed based on the following convention:
Until July 1973 care labelling was not a legal requirement in Canada. After this date a new care labelling system was introduced. The new Canadian care symbol system used green (go ahead), amber (caution), and red (don’t try) with five symbols which were wash tub, bleach triangle, square dryer, iron, and dry cleaning circle. In 2003 the Canadian system was updated to harmonise with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and (ISO) standards, and the colour code was discontinued.
Individual committees of the European Union are reviewing existing care label standards by collaborating with other international bodies so that they can create a unified system under the ISO scheme.
The symbols used in Europe are trademarked by GENETEX and a trademark
fee needs to be paid to GENETEX, the trademark holder, if the garments
are to be sold in a GENETEX country.
A correct care label for European countries is required to consist of at least four and sometimes five symbols in the following sequence: 1) Washing, 2) Bleaching, 3) Ironing, 4) Dry-Cleaning & 5) Drying.
According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Care Label rule, care labels may be composed of either words or symbols. Irrespective of whether the content is words, symbols, or both, care instructions appear in the following order:
In addition to the care label instructions, manufacturers and importers must provide labels that:
Since December 1996, a new system using only symbols and no words has been used in the United States of America. The revised care symbols developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) with their meanings are listed below.
The Premiere Vision Performance Codes were created to highlight specific properties or qualities of the fabric. These are value-added characteristics of the fabric which may or may not be visible to the buyer.
Premiere Vision has created 24 pictograms that are listed below with their meanings:
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