Care Labels and Symbols
Care Labels The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires manufacturers to attach a permanent label to textile garments that provides directions for their care. According to the 1972 Care Label Rule and its 1984 amendment, manufacturers and importers must list at least one method of safe care for a garment. The Rule covers all textile clothing except footwear, gloves, hats, suede and leather clothing, and household items, such as linens.
The Care Label Rule stipulates that the care label is easily found, will not separate from the garment, and will remain legible during the garment’s useful life. The label must warn about any part of the recommended care method that would harm the garment or other garments being laundered or drycleaned with it. It also must warn when there is no method for cleaning a garment without damaging it.
Symbols also may appear on a care label to supplement written instructions. When a garment carries an international symbol tag, all care methods will usually be listed. If you are not sure of a symbol’s meaning, ask your local cleaner to explain it to you.
MAY I REMOVE THE CARE LABEL?
Garments are required to have a care label attached at the time of purchase so that you can take care instructions into consideration when you buy an item. Removing the care label entails some risk, as full information or warnings regarding proper care will no longer be available to you or your cleaner.
DRY CLEANING METHODS DEFINITIONS
Dryclean: Uses normal drycleaning fluid found in any commercial or coin-operated drycleaning establishment. The process may include moisture added to the fluid, hot tumble drying (160’F), and pressing by steam press or steam air-form finishing.
Professionally Dryclean: Restricts the drycleaning process to methods possible only in commercial drycleaning plants. “Professionally Dryclean” must be accompanied by further information, such as “use reduced moisture,” “low heat,” or “no steam finishing.”
Machine Wash: Indicates use of either a commercial or home washing machine. Other information may be added giving specific washing temperatures, size of the load, or drying procedures.
DOES “WASHABLE” MEAN IT ALSO CAN BE DRY CLEANED?
If a garment’s care label says “washable,” it may or may not-be safety drycleaned; there is no way of telling from the label. A manufacturer or importer is only required to list one method of safe care, no matter how many other methods also could be used safely. The manufacturer or importer also is not required to warn about other care procedures that may not be safe. The International Fabricate Institute (IFI) supports voluntary “alternative labeling” by manufacturers to inform consumers of all satisfactory care methods.
If you request a method of cleaning not listed on the care label, a cleaner may ask you to sign a consent form. With or without the form, cleaners who accept garments for cleaning are obligated to clean them in a professional manner, to the best of their ability.
WHAT If YOU FOLLOW THE LABEL AND A PROBLEM DEVELOPS?
If you or the cleaner follow the manufacturer’s instructions and the garment is damaged, you should return the garment to the store and explain what happened. If the store will not resolve the problem, ask for the manufacturer’s name and address and write to the company. Provide a full description of the garment and state all the information that is given on the labels and tags. Estimate how many times the garment has been washed or drycleaned, and provide the full name and address of the store where it was purchased.
You should also send a copy of your complaint letter to the Federal Trade Commission, c/o Correspondence Branch, Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC cannot resolve your individual problem, but the information you and other consumers supply may reveal a pattern or practice requiring the Commission’s attention. If you have purchased clothing that has no care label attached, you should contact the FTC, giving the name and address of the store and manufacturer.
Leather and Suede Care
Leather & Suede
CHOOSING A LEATHER GARMENT
A leather or suede garment is a major investment, so it is important to choose it carefully and care for it wisely. In selecting a leather garment:
Buy from a reputable retailer.
Look for careful matching of colors and textures between portions of the garment. Suede wilt never be completely uniform, but that is part of its desirability. Avoid a snug fit. Hides are stretched during tanning and some relaxation shrinkage can be expected in use and cleaning. Read and save any accompanying care information.
WEAR AND CARE
Proper care of leather and suede begins at home. To get the maximum life from your garment:
Wear a scarf to protect the collar area from perspiration and body oils. If the garment gets wet, let it air-dry away from heat. Store in a cool, ventilated area. Leather can dry out if exposed to dry heat or mildew if stored in a hot, humid environment. Do not store leather in a plastic bag. If staining occurs, take the garment to a professional suede and leather cleaner as soon as possible. Do not try to remove spots at home.
CLEANING YOUR LEATHER
When you take your leather or suede garment to a professional cleaner, it is helpful if you can provide any care information that came with the garment. Be sure to point out any stains, since stains that are old and set cannot always be removed safely. Have all matching pieces cleaned at the same time.
If there is any question about cleanability, the cleaner may ask you to sign a consent form before cleaning.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER CLEANING LEATHER AND SUEDE
Although cleaning technologies for leather and suede are constantly improving, some changes will almost always result from the cleaning process. The following gives You an idea of what to expect:
Variations among the garment’s sections. Leather garments are made from skins taken from various portions of the animal and usually from several different animals. The manufacturer tries to match the skins as uniformly as possible, but even the best matching may still show some variance in texture, weight, and color uniformity. These may be accentuated after cleaning.
Not all coloured fabrics are created equally. Some are woven from dyed yarns, some are dyed after weaving, and other fabrics are coloured by printing the surface, often with several different colours. colour performance has improved with modern technology, but failures may still occur. CARE LABELS
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires manufacturers to attach a permanent label to textile garments that provides directions for their care. The Care Label Rule was intended to give both the consumer and the drycleaner or launderer complete guidance on how to take care of an item. A garment labeled “dryclean” should have dyes that can withstand drycleaning solvent, and “washable” garments should have dyes that wilt stand up to washing.
The best way for the manufacturer to determine care procedures is through testing. Unfortunately, this is not always done, and sometimes items are drycleaned or washed with poor results.
As a general rule, you have the right to assume that a properly cared-for white garment will retain reasonable whiteness for its normal life expectancy, and that coloured garments will retain their depth or brightness.
To ensure the best colour performance of your garments:
• Always read and follow the care instructions.
• Protect white and coloured garments from excessive exposure to light.
• Follow bleaching instructions on the care label.
• When in doubt, consult a professional cleaner.
COLOUR LOSS IN DRYCLEANING
A dye that is soluble in drycleaning solvent may severely fade during the drycleaning process. If two or more dyes have been used and only one is solvent soluble, you may seea dramatic colour change. For example, the yellow component may be removed from a green garment, leaving it blue. Drycleaning also may affect various pieces of a garment differently. For example, a dyed blue dress may retain its colour, while its blue-and-white surface-printed jacket may fade, so that the blues no longer match.
Fading commonly occurs in household items, such as bedspreads and draperies. Often, it may not appear severe until the item is compared with a matching item. Matching bedspreads and draperies should all be cleaned at the same time.
WASHABLE AND WATER-BASED DYES
Some dyes bleed when laundered or exposed to perspiration, rain, or water. Since many stains require water and water-soluble chemicals for removal, even drycleanable items should have water-resistant dyes.
Water can also cause problems with sizing, which is used to provide body in fabrics such as rayon. Water spills may cause sizing to migrate and form dark rings or streaks as it dries. These discolourations are difficult to remedy on drycleanable fabrics because they require additional water to remove the sizing disturbance, and this may aggravate the problem.
Most people do not think of white as a colour, but it is. Many fabrics naturally have an off-white or yellowish cast. White fabrics may even be treated with optical brighteners, also called fluorescent whitening agents, to enhance their whiteness.
Some of these brightening agents are unstable and may lose their whitening power when exposed to light, giving the exposed fabric a yellow or gray hue or a pink or green cast. For example, the front of a sweater laid out to dry in the sun may turn yellow, while the back remains white. Brighteners are especially sensitive to light exposure when garments are wet.
Yellowing also may occur when chlorine bleach comes in contact with resins, which sometimes are added to impart a “permanent press” quality. You can avoid this by following the care label instructions for bleaching.
Some white fabrics yellow from normal aging, oxidation, and exposure to atmospheric soils. This process sometimes can be reversed by careful wetcleaning and bleaching. If not too severe, it may be corrected with a fluorescent brightener during the drycleaning process or by using a laundry detergent containing brightener.
LIGHT & CHEMICAL DAMAGE
Most dyes eventually fade with exposure to sunlight or artificial light. colour failure may occur rapidly on exposed areas, such as shoulders, collars, and sleeves. Many blue, green, and lavender dyes are light-sensitive, especially on silk and wool fabrics.
Household substances also can affect dyes. Be careful not to expose fabrics to alkaline toiletries, such as toothpaste, hair spray, perfume, or deodorant, which contain alcohol. The acidity of lemon juice affects some dyes. Bleach, one of the most common causes of colour loss and fabric damage, should be used with extreme care.
Clothing stains are one of the main reasons people seek the help of their drycleaner. With their special solvents, equipment, and training, drycleaners can remove some of the most disastrous-tooking stains with relative ease. Successful stain removal depends largely on the nature of the stain, the type of fabric, and the colourfastness of the dye. Ink stains and dried paint, for example, can be impossible to remove. Also, some fabrics and dyes are not made to withstand the use of cleaning or stain removal agents.
Many stains that are caused by food, oily substances, or beverages may become invisible when they dry. But later on, with exposure to heat or the passage of time, a yellow or brownish stain wilt appear. This is caused by the oxidation or carametization of the sugar in the staining substance. It is the same process that makes a peeled apple turn brown after exposure to air.
You can help the drycleaner do a better job by pointing out such stains when you take a garment to be cleaned. The cleaner often treats these stains prior to cleaning, since the heat of drying or finishing may set the stain.
When an oily substance is exposed to heat or ages in a garment for an extended time, it also oxidizes. This type of stain can be distinguished by the irregular “cross pattern” the oil makes when it follows the fabric fibers. Oily substances are successfully removed in drycleaning unless they are left to oxidize. Once they become yellow or brown, they become much more difficult to remove.
Perspiration can also cause problem stains, particularly on silk and wool garments. Perspiration left in a silk garment can eventually cause deterioration of the silk fibers.
Repeated exposure of a garment to perspiration and body oils can create a permanent yellow discolouration and an objectionable odor. In addition, perspiration can react with the dye or sizing in the fabric, making it even more difficult to remove the stain. People who perspire heavily should have their clothes cleaned more frequently and might consider using perspiration shields. Clothing frequently worn or heavily stained also requires frequent cleaning.
THE DRYCLEANER’S RESPONSIBILITY
Drycleaners are responsible for attempting to remove stains in accordance with professional practice. Not all stains can be removed, despite the drycleaner’s best efforts.
In some cases:
stains are oxidized and set in the fabric. the type of dye or delicacy of the fabric can limit the degree of removal. the dye in the fabric is soluble (prone to bleed); removing the stain would also remove the dye from the fabric.
The more information consumers give the drycleaner and the sooner a garment is brought in, the greater the chance of satisfactory stain removal.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
To help your drycleaner do a better job of stain removal, we suggest the following:
Never put a garment away with spills or stains on it. The warmth of a closet and exposure to natural or artificial light and to the atmosphere can contribute to setting a stain.
Bring in a stained garment as soon as possible, preferably within a few days, to prevent the stain from setting.
Do not iron stained or soiled clothes; this will set stains and drive the soil deeper into the fabric. Always have soiled clothes cleaned or washed before ironing.
Do not attempt home spot removal with either water or a cleaning fluid without testing first for colourfastness. Wet an unexposed area, such as an inside seam, and blot with a paper towel to make sure the colour is fast.
Never rub a stain, especially when attempting to remove a stain from silk. Blot the stained area. This wilt help remove the staining substance without spreading the stain and will avoid damaging the fabric.
Inform your drycleaner of the location of specific stains and any procedures you have used to remove them, even if the stains are no longer visible.
Rayon and Silk
Rayon and Silk
Silk is a soft, elegant fiber, prized for its many unique qualities. Rayon was the first manmade fiber produced. It gives the look of silk at a fraction of the cost. Rayon is regenerated cellulose material.
WASH OR DRYCLEAN?
Both silk and rayon fibers dryclean very well. If the manufacturer has not tested for appropriate care instructions, however, certain dyes or finishes applied to the fibers may react adversely to drycleaning. Washing may damage garments containing sizing and/or dyes that are sensitive to water. It is important that you follow the care label on the garment.
“WASHABLE” SILK AND RAYON
washable silk and rayon have become increasingly popular. Some dyes on “washable” silk and rayon actually dissolve in water, causing considerable dye bleeding and transfer of the dye. This is especially true on many darker colours; most pastels have a greater degree of colourfastness. Multicoloured articles should be tested for colourfastness before washing them.
It is important to keep the washing cycle very short, followed by rapid rinsing and drying. Never soak these garments for extended periods of time.
Drycleaning is not advised for articles of this type. Tests have shown that many of these dyes may be solvent soluble. When consumers bring these washable garments to be drycleaned, the drycleaner should clean them according to the instructions on the care label. If those care instructions are not followed and a problem occurs, the retailer cannot be held responsible.
A frequent problem with silk and rayon is the tendency of the sizing or finish applied by the manufacturer to discolour upon contact with moisture. The moisture effects of water-soluble food and beverage spillage, perspiration, and rain may disturb sizing. If the article is badly stained by moisture, and labeled as “drycleanable,” it may be very difficult for a drycleaner to correct this shading. A bad discolouration may necessitate a short wetcleaning process. This should only be done with the consumer’s consent.
Changes in colour shading can result from a variety of outside sources.
HOME STAIN REMOVAL
Because of the extreme sensitivity of many dyes and sizings to moisture, consumers are not advised to attempt any stain removal using water unless they have pretested an unexposed seam. Wet the fabric and blot it with a white cloth. (Rubbing while wet during home spotting can distort the yams, causing light areas or chafing.) Allow the spot to air dry to determine if the dye and sizing are disturbed.
Oily-type greases and soils often can be more readily removed by a drycleaning fluid without adverse effects. However, in all stain-removal techniques, the fabric should only be lightly blotted with the fluid; never rubbed. Rubbing damages the colour of the fabric, often permanently.
Perspiration contains salts that can damage fabrics, especially silk. Perspiration is acidic and turns alkaline on exposure to the atmosphere. This can cause the fabric to change colour and may disintegrate and weaken silk. Have perspiration stains removed as soon as possible to avoid permanent staining. If you perspire heavily, consider wearing underarm shields.
Some silk dyes bleed or change colour when exposed to solutions containing alcohol. Allow perfume, deodorant, and hair spray to dry before you dress, and remove spills from alcoholic beverages as soon as possible.
Some dyes, especially blues and greens on silk, are sensitive to alkalies. Many facial soaps, shampoos, detergents, and even toothpastes are alkaline enough to cause colour loss or change on sensitive items. If this happens, talk to your drycleaner promptly about possible restoration.
Many bright colours used on these fabrics can fade from exposure to sunlight or artificial light. Some blue and green dyes fade exceptionally fast, especially on silk. Store garments in closets away from any light, such as windows or electric lights left on.
Never use chlorine bleach-it permanently damages silk.
Help your drycleaner help you when a garment needs drycleaning:
• Take it to the drycleaner as soon as possible.
• Tell the drycleaner the nature of the stain.
• Point out food and beverage spills.
• Point out areas damaged by improper home spotting. If the dye and fibers are not severely damaged, your drycleaner may be able to correct them.
Your wedding gown is one of your most precious possessions. It is a symbol of an important event in your life and, as such, should be treated with special care. Whether you are borrowing it from a relative or buying it new, your gown deserves your attention, both before the wedding and afterward.
CHOOSING A WEDDING DRESS
Wedding consultants agree that if you are buying a new dress for the big day, you should begin shopping at least six months before your wedding date. This will give you ample time to find the style, fabric, and accessories that suit you. It also will allow time for the manufacturing and shipping of a dress that is special-ordered. Today’s bridal gowns are made from satin, taffeta, chiffon, organza, brocade, and lace and are accented with delicate trims, such as beads, seed pearls, sequins, embroidery, and lace.
When shopping for your dress, ask the salesperson whether both the dress and trim are drycleanable. If possible, get the information in writing. Cleaners often find that trim that is glued on rather than sewn on sometimes does not stand up to the drycleaning process. Other trims, such as beads and pearls, dissolve when cleaned with solvent. You want to make sure that your entire dress is drycleanable so that you can preserve your investment for many years.
If you are wearing an heirloom gown, allow plenty of time for professional cleaning as well as any alterations that may be necessary. Because many fabrics naturally yellow with age, you should check the gown carefully for any discolouration. Often, yellowing can be overcome if the gown can be carefully wetcleaned. If you find any colour changes, take your gown to a cleaner who understands restoration of delicate and antique materials.
AFTER THE WEDDING …
Most brides want to preserve their dress as a keepsake, perhaps for their own daughter to wear on her wedding day. Cleaning industry experts recommend that you have the dress cleaned by an expert before storage.
The dress may have invisible stains from food, beverages, and body oil. If these stains are not properly cleaned, they may become permanent. Therefore, it is important to point out any stains or spills to your cleaner before cleaning.
Most wedding gowns have some sort of decorative trim. Again, it is important to inspect these trims with your cleaner prior to cleaning since many trims are not made to withstand the drycleaning process. For example, many beads, glitter, sequins, and laces are attached to gowns with adhesives that dissolve during drycleaning. Some beads and glitter are made of plastics or covered with surface coatings that are not solventresistant. In many of these cases, the trim becomes separated from the dress or altered in some way.
In some cases, decorative trims yellow as their finishes oxidize. An ivory or ecru trim may lose its colour and no longer match the gown if a dye component is lost in cleaning. colour failures of this type are due to poor colourfastness of the dye, not to improper cleaning.
SPECIAL CARE INSTRUCTIONS
The Care Label Rule clearly states that wearing apparel such as wedding gowns, must have a care label that provides a viable care method. The care label covers all component parts of the gown, including all decorative trim. Gowns that fail to withstand the care procedure on the label should be returned to the retailer for an adjustment.
Look at the care label before purchasing your gown to make sure you understand the recommended cleaning instructions. When it comes time to clean your gown, find a local cleaner who can professionally dry or wetclean it. You need not send your gown away for cleaning and storage; there are many specially t ained cleaners in your area who can assist you tor a fair and reasonable price.
With proper care, your wedding gown will remain a keepsake.
STORING YOUR GOWN
Unfortunately, no process or storage method can guarantee against yellowing or possible deterioration of fabrics. There are, however, several steps you can take to protect your garment:
• Have your cleaner pack the gown in a special storage box that will help prevent contamination.
• Store your gown in a cool, dry place. Do not store it in a basement or attic. Basement dampness could cause mildew; attic heat could promote yellowing of the fabric.
• If you are storing a long gown on a hanger, sew straps to the waistline of the dress to relieve pressure on the shoulders from the weight of the skirt. Wrap the dress in a protective white sheet or muslin covering.
• Whether the gown is hung or boxed, the bodice should be stuffed with white tissue paper to prevent wrinkles. Fabric-covered buttons, pins, sponge padding, and perspiration shields should be removed and stored separately to avoid damage to the fabric.
• Never store headpieces, veils, shoes, or other accessories with your gown.
• Inspect your gown from time to time during storage. Stains not initially apparent could appear later, and should be tended to immediately.
Preserving the quality of your wedding gown may be the finest gift you can give yourself and a loved one.
Whether it’s a broken button, a previously unseen spot, or colour fading, imperfect results are a problem for both drycleaners and their customers. Damage that occurs during the drycleaning process may stem from the failure of a component part to be drycleanable or from the circumstances of use. Regardless, drycleaning customers need to know who is responsible for damaged items and what recourse they have to remedy the situation. WHAT IS THE LAW?
Wearing apparel is covered by the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Care Label Rule. Textile garments sold in the United States must have a permanent, legible care label attached in a conspicuous place. All parts of the garment must be able to withstand the recommended care procedure. Garment manufacturers and importers of foreignmade garments are responsible for having a reasonable basis for the instructions given and for seeing that these labels are present.
The care label is intended to give both the consumer and the drycleaner guidance on how to care for the item properly. If a label says “dryclean,” this should mean that all components including the outer shell, lining, buttons, interfacing, fusing material, and trim will be colourfast and will not be altered during cleaning. If any such problem occurs, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer, who has not tested the component accurately before labeling.
Manufacturing problems arise in fabrics as well. Other defects to look for are:
• Dyes that dissolve in drycleaning solvent, causing excessive bleeding or fading.
• Sizing that dissolves in solvent or water.
• Shrinkage due to failure to preshrink fabric before garment construction. Loss or dulling of surface sheen due to wear and tear of finish. colour loss or change in dyes sensitive to light or to action of the surrounding air. Shrinkage or separation of attached interfacing and bonded fabrics.
WHY SIGN A CONSENT FORM?
The great majority of garments and household articles clean satisfactorily, without any problems at all. Occasionally, your professional cleaner may recognize a potential problem and ask you to sign a consent form before cleaning the item.
The use of a consent form is a signal that your drycleaner is aware of a potential problem and is showing consideration and prudence in the handling of your clothes. If you agree, the item will be processed with extreme care and probably returned to you in good condition. If damage does occur, however, the drycleaner should not be held responsible, since he/she warned you of the risk and obtained your consent to proceed.
Signing a consent form, of course, does not relieve the cleaner of the normal responsibility of handling the item with professional care, according to accepted industry standards.
WHAT CAN I DO?
It depends where the responsibility lies. If the problem arises from a manufacturing defect, you should take the article back to the retailer for an adjustment or refund. In some cases, the retailer may resist making an adjustment, even if the problem is a manufacturer defect. Ask the retailer for the name of the manufacturer or obtain the RN number which usually is found on the care label. Call the FTC at (202) 326-3170 and ask for the manufacturer’s name and address. Send the item to the manufacturer via registered mail, return receipt, and include an explanation for the retum.
Occasionally, damage done in drycleaning is the responsibility of the drycleaner and not the result of preexisting conditions or defects. In such cases, the cleaner will usually settle the claim promptly and fairly, often using the Fair Claims Guide published by the International Fabricate Institute (IFI). If there is some doubt about responsibility, the member cleaner can send the garment to IFI’s Garment Analysis Laboratory to determine the cause of the problem.
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