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Care labelling (also known as " refers to the symbols which are contained within consumer clothing. They are used to depict with symbols the best way of taking care of a garment with regard to general textile care, washing, ironing,bleaching and drying. Depending upon the country, there are different international or industrial standards, but the most common one used in Europe is GINETEX, which is accepted as an international standard throughout most of the world.

America has not had a standard of its own since 2000, which was designated as ASTM D5489-96c. Most of the standards including the ASTM standard have a greater number of similarities than they do differences.

History

The requirement for care labelling developed with the advent of synthetic fibers in mass-production, most particularly toward the end of World War II, where nylon was used as a replacement for silk commonly used in toothbrushes and womens stockings, but mainly used for military purposes, which interestingly led to riots in its first year of sale due to high demand. With the development of these new forms of material, the traditional plant or animal-based fibers were being replaced with synthethic materials and eventually to blends between the two. Originally, with only traditional fabrics, there were a limited number of requirements when washing fabrics, which was generally 90 or 60 degrees; however, with blends or synthetic materials, the requirements became more complicated.

As more synthetic materials such as modacrylic, olefin and eventually acrylic, were developed, the International Symposium for Textile Care Labelling held several sessions in the 1950s, which eventually led to the development of a Textile Care Labelling standard by Groupement International d’Etiquetage pour l’Entretien des Textiles, or the International Labelling Group for The Maintainance of Textiles (GINETEX) in France, in 1963. The standards which have been produced for textiles have been updated since the group was formed.

General use

In commercial clothing, care symbols are used mainly for the purpose of providing easily-identifiable conditions, under which, a person should wash, iron, bleach or dry a garment, so that it will remain as close to its original condition. Often the instructions are found on cotton "tabs" which are sewn inside a garment and display various symbols and in addition, copyright information. In non-commerical or more bespoke clothing, the presence of care labelling can be present, however, it is most likely a brand label with limited information will be supplied.

Overview of symbols

This list provides a comparison of the care labelling which is prescribed by various standards. As other standards become available or are discovered, they will be added to the list where appropriate or possible. However, those standards which have been superseded by a parent standard (i.e. Older British Standards, ISO standards or ASTM standards) will not be included for the sake of brevity.

Area Type Ginetex (ISO 3758) US (ASTM D5489-96c)

Washing

Wash.jpgMachineWashCycle-Normal.jpg

95° normal wash
95-normal-ginetex.jpg
95C-neutral.jpg
70° wash Not included.
70C-neutral.jpg
60° normal wash
60-normal-ginetex.jpg
60C-neutral.jpg
40° normal wash
40-normal-ginetex.jpg
40C-neutral.jpg
30° normal wash
30-normal-ginetex.jpg
30C-neutral.jpg
60° mild wash
60-mild-ginetex.jpg
Not included.
40° mild wash
40-mild-ginetex.jpg
Not included.
30° mild wash
30-mild-ginetex.jpg
Not included.
40° very mild wash
40-very-mild-ginetex.jpg
Not included.
30° very mild wash
30-very-mild-ginetex.jpg
Not included.
Hand wash
Hand-wash-ginetex.jpg
MachineWashCycle-HandWash.jpg
Do not wash
Do-not-wash-ginetex.jpg
DoNotWash.jpg
Bleaching Any bleaching agent allowed
Any-bleach-ginetex.jpg
AnyBleach.jpg
Only oxygen/non-chlorine bleach allowed
Non-chlorine-bleach-ginetex.jpg
NonChlorineBleach.jpg
Do not bleach
Do-not-bleach-ginetex.jpg
DoNotBleach.jpg

Ginetex

  1. Washing
  2. Ironing
  3. Bleaching
  4. Drying
  5. Professional textile care

References

  1. Federal Trade Commission - http://www.ftc.gov/node/119456
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