Care labelling outlines how a user should care for a garment or textile item. Garment manufacturers are required to attach a label providing appropriate and adequate directions for the care of the article, so the article is not damaged when the user follows the instructions.
The care label must be easy to find, permanently attached, written in English and remain legible throughout the life of the garment. The manufacturer must have a reason for the recommended care instructions and must warn about any part of the care method that would harm any component of the garment or other garments that may be dry-cleaned or laundered with it. A care label must also warn when there is no method for cleaning—these typically read: “Do Not Dry Clean,” “Do Not Wash.”
Providing overly cautious instructions such as ‘dry-clean only’ or ‘hand wash in cold water only’ on a garment that a user can safely wash using other methods may breach the mandatory standard. Where an article can be laundered or dry-cleaned or both, care instructions for both treatments must appear on the label.
Specific and prohibited care instructions
Care instructions may include both specific and prohibited instructions. Specific instructions provide advice on what a user should do with the article. Examples include: • dry flat • cool iron • dry-clean only.
Prohibited instructions provide advice on what a user should not do with the article. Examples include: • do not iron • do not tumble dry.
For articles that can be neither laundered nor dry-cleaned, suppliers should indicate this on the care label and adequately describe the recommended care treatment. Delicate and multiple components Sometimes delicate components of articles such as trims or padding in furniture or bedding cannot or should not be removed. When an article is made of different materials, suppliers must provide care instructions that are suitable for all materials, including those most sensitive.
Articles with multiple parts
Each detachable or separate part of an article must have a care label, even if the care instructions are the same for all parts.
In Australia, care instructions must be written in English and they can also include care symbols, but this is not mandatory.
Consumers can rely on the Dry-cleaning Institute of Australia as a resource for interpreting non-conforming instructions and symbols.
Using a care method not specified on the label
If a different care method is undertaken, there is some risk. Professional Cleaners may, at times, suggest an alternative method based upon their knowledge, skill, or the type of soil or stains on the garment; or you may request a different method. Either way, the Professional Cleaner will carefully consider all options and advise you before beginning any requested process and may ask that you sign a release from responsibility form.
If there Is no label
All garments sold in Australia must have a care label. An appropriate care label must also be made available when purchasing fabric that will be used for clothing. Removing the care label entails some risk since care information or warnings are no longer available.
What If there is a problem after care instructions are followed exactly?
If a garment is damaged or ruined at home even though care instructions were followed, you should return the garment to the retailer. If the retailer is not helpful, you may wish to contact the local Office of Consumer Affairs or alternatively, it may be possible locate the manufacturer via the Internet.
If the garment was damaged at a dry-cleaning store, speak to them directly. If they did not follow the care instructions, they have a responsibility for the results. If they did follow the care instructions, they may be able to assist you with a settlement from the retailer.
To make contact and resolution with a retailer go more smoothly, you should:
- Be prepared with a purchase record or an estimate of approximately when the garment was purchased
- Estimate of the number of times the garment has been washed or dry-cleaned
- State a resolution that would be satisfactory Common Care Label Terms and What They Mean
- DRYCLEAN: Any dry-cleaning process can be used and may include moisture, pressing by steam or steam-air procedures, and drying up to 700C.
- PROFESSIONALLY DRYCLEAN: The item may be cleaned by varying from a normal dry-cleaning process. The care label must provide specific instructions.
- SPOT CLEAN ONLY: The only thing that can be done is stain removal without immersing or otherwise cleaning the entire garment.
- HAND WASH: This is a gentle soaking process with very limited agitation by hand. Other information may include specific water temperature and drying requirements.
As you can see, there’s more than meets to the eye to the humble care label on your clothing.
R&R Fabricare has been servicing Canberra since 1933 and can now be found in 3 convenient locations, Weston, Yarralumla and Mawson, we pride ourselves on our attention to detail and have the knowledge to decipher care labels to ensure your garment gets the best care possible.
This article contains information from the Drycleaning Institute of Australia of which R&R Fabricare is a member.