All About Garment Care Symbols

Red sock turn your towels pink? Favorite linen shirt shrunk in the washer?

We have all looked at the garment care tag on our favorite shirt, jeans, dress, trousers, and tie at one time or another. Sometimes just a little too late.

Don’t you hate when that happens?

Here is a great chart to help you interpret the many garment care symbols that exist and how to best care for your clothing.

Or bring your garments to ZIPS – and leave the laundry to the professionals!


What is the Care Labeling Rule?

The Care Labeling Rule was issued by the Federal Trade Commission in 1971 to help consumers with clothing care. The rule states that manufacturers must tag their clothing with at lease one safe cleaning method.

What information is required on the care label?

  • Care labels for garments must provide either washing or dry cleaning instructions. Only one safe method is required, even if the garment can be washed or dry cleaned.
  • The label must warn against any/all procedures that may harm the item during reasonable care.

Are there any other symbols?

Most manufacturers use the same set of internationally recognized care symbols as approved by the FTC. However, clothing manufacturers outside of North America may use different symbols.

Does washing also mean the garment can/cannot be dry cleaned?

Only one safe method of care must be listed on the care label. The label does not have to indicate all safe cleaning methods but must mention any that are potentially harmful.

What if I follow the care instructions and the garment is damaged?

If you followed the care instructions on the attached label and problems result, return the garment to the retail store. Examples include:

  • Dyes that fade/bleed/transfer in washing or dry cleaning even though the care label was followed.
  • Trim issues, such as damaged, lost or discolored when the care label was followed.
  • Excessive shrinkage or stretching when the care label was followed.