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Confused over whether to wash, dry clean or iron? ISO standard offers a solution

by Elizabeth Gasiorowski-Deniss on
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Man washing clothes

Has your favorite shirt shrunk or your new pants puckered or the colours in your designer jacket faded? Rest assured, you are not alone. A new ISO standard will reduce the risk by giving cleaning instructions on care labels and how to use them so your clothes do not get damaged!
ISO 3758:2012, Textiles – Care labelling code using symbols, communicates information to consumers, launderers and dry cleaners through a collection of symbols designed for use in the marking of textile articles, in order to prevent irreversible damage during the care process. The use of these symbols in care labelling is also covered.

Care labels provide helpful information that can save you time and money. What’s more, care labels are often a deciding factor when consumers shop for clothing. While some consumers look for the convenience of drycleaning, others prefer the economy of washable garments. Regardless of the decision, no one wants to intentionally cause irreversible damage to their clothes.

The updated ISO 3758 standard reflects current cleansing practices including technical developments, new bleach systems, and the alternative to conventional dry cleaning using aqueous systems. In addition, modifications in the description of care processes were introduced in order to avoid hindering process development.

“The variety of fibres, materials and finishes used in the production of textile articles together with the development of cleansing and care procedures makes it difficult and often impossible to decide on the appropriate cleansing and care treatment for each article simply by inspecting it,” say the authors of this standard. “This International Standard has been made sufficiently flexible to accommodate the needs of practically all who wish to use it.”

Based on international consensus reached within the textile industry, these ISO care labels are easily understandable and recognizable” for the consumer worldwide, irrespective of the language they speak.  

The new ISO 3758 standard contains a large selection of care treatments from which the user may select the most suitable for any particular need.

In addition to giving a safe cleaning method, care labels also describe necessary warning about the cleaning method. For example, the label must say whether any step of the care method – washing, bleaching, drying, ironing, and professional textile care – could harm the garment, or other items cleaned with it.

This third edition of ISO 3758:2012 was prepared by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 38, Textiles, subcommittee SC 2, Cleansing, finishing and water resistance tests, and replaces ISO 3758:2005.

ISO 3758:2012, Textiles – Care labelling code using symbols, is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). It may also be obtained directly from the ISO Central Secretariat, price 108 Swiss francs respectively through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication & Information department.