What Care Labels Do Not Have to Tell You
You should not assume, when you read a care label, that the manufacturer is trying to give you the least expensive or the best or even both of two equally good sets of care instructions. The rules do not require this, and care labels very often do not do so.
When care labels give warnings, they are not required to explain what danger is being warned against, how big a danger it is, or how likely the danger is. Care labels never tell you why one procedure is recommended rather than another, whether it is because a garment might fade, shrink, pill, or go limp or shapeless, whether invisible finishes may dissolve, and so on. Care labels do not tell you whether the product has received wrinkle-resistance or other treatments or whether any instructions on the label are there to protect a finish. Manufacturers are not required to tell you on care labels how much shrinking you can expect, nor when instructions are geared toward preventing shrinkage.
Care labels are not required to tell you when starch or sizing is necessary to restore the crisp appearance of a garment, or when ironing should be done when the clothes are damp. Apparently, they are also not required to give instructions on the use of soaps or detergents, softeners, bluing agents, boosters, and the like, and they rarely do, except, occasionally, to advise the use of mild soap or detergent.
At the present time, care labels are not required on gloves, hats, handkerchiefs, neckties, shoes, and similar items of attire, or on sheets, mattress pads, tablecloths, blankets, towels, rugs, upholstery, and many other textile products used in the home. Wisely, manufacturers almost always include care labels on towels, linens, and other textile goods even though they are not required. When care labels are absent, as sometimes happens on imported towels and linens, you have to rely entirely on labels describing fiber content—which are, fortunately, required by the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act for all domestic and imported textiles—and use care procedures appropriate to the fibers.
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