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Care Labels: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

by aline on April 3, 2014

CARE LABELSIf you find the care labels on clothes confusing and inconsistent, you’re not alone.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) tightly regulates those labels, mandating that they be clearly legible, written in English, affixed permanently to the garment, accessible at the point of sale, and appropriate and adequate for the material in question.

In an explanation of its “Care Labeling Rule” provided in cooperation with the Better Business Bureau, the FTC notes that manufacturers must “ensure that care labeling instructions, if followed, will cause no substantial harm to the product.”

Unfortunately, clothing manufacturers don’t always comply with these rules. Sometimes, for example, a label may claim a particular garment can only be dry cleaned, even though it’s perfectly safe in the wash in a gentle wash cycle or washed by hand. The FTC asserts that a “dry clean only” label must be backed up by “reliable evidence” in support of that claim.

You’ll even run into clothing that can’t be washed or dry cleaned without being damaged because of its material or design. In such cases, the manufacturer is required to clearly include this fact on the label, which should read: “Do not wash—do not dry clean.”

Why are we discussing the intricacies—and occasional errors—involved with clothing care labels? Well, because it matters: You don’t want clothes you’ve spent hard-earned dollars on getting ruined because they’ve been put through a fundamentally inappropriate cleaning process. Furthermore, we consider it part of our job as professional cleaners to recognize and identify these inaccuracies. Then we respond by cleaning the garment in the manner we think most appropriate.

At Gadue’s, you benefit from all our decades of experience when it comes to selecting the proper approach to cleaning a given garment. We’ve been in the business for a long time, and have the capability to pursue many different cleaning methods. We don’t blindly follow care labels, because we know they’re sometimes wrong. For example, a manufacturer may forget (or not know in the first place) that their buttons and trim will melt in the solvent used in the dry cleaning process even if the fabric itself is safe to dry clean.

We’ll apply all of our expertise and—in consultation with you—we’ll go against the manufacturer instructions if it’s in the best interest of the garment. You’ll be kept fully informed: If we think the care label advocates a potentially damaging course, we’ll let you know our concern as well as the pros and cons of various cleaning methods.

You can trust Gadue’s to treat your clothing with care and respect, and to do everything we can to make sure it lasts a long time. You’re in good hands with us!

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