All you need to know about wash care labels

At Hallmark, we specialise in printing custom-designed labels. While our products are intended to add a touch of class and sophistication to your products – and, of course, reinforce your branding in the minds of your customers – they also serve an important practical purpose.

Wash care labels teach your buyers about the materials that have been used to produce the garment, and how best to care for them.

Are there any legal requirements to consider?

Yes – labels for certain products need to contain mandatory information. Luckily, our team have the knowledge and experience needed to guide you through your obligations and help you produce labels that not only look great, but meet national or international regulations, too. 

What’s on a typical wash care label?

Below, we’ve listed the icons you can often expect to find on UK wash care labels.

Washing and care instructions

Label manufacturers use a series of washing symbols to communicate whether the garment can be safely cleaned in a washing machine, or whether it needs careful handwashing.
You’ll normally see a symbol that looks like a bucket filled with water that contains either dots or numbers; these indicate the recommend maximum temperature. There are also separate symbols for synthetics cycles, gentle/wool wash cycles, and hand wash requirements. Occasionally, you might see red ‘do not wash’ and ‘do not wring’ icons.

Bleaching guidelines

If you’re keen to use bleach to whiten up certain items of clothing, be careful – not all garments can handle these kinds of chemicals! 
An empty triangle indicates that you can use bleach if you need to; diagonal lines within the triangle mean you should use non-chlorine bleach; and if the triangle is crossed out by two lines, it’s best to avoid bleach completely.

Drying your clothes

Avoid damaging your clothing right at the end of the laundry process by following the drying instructions on your wash care label. It’s the only way to make sure your garments don’t shrink or become misshapen after they’ve been washed. There are lots of helpful drying symbols, but perhaps the most useful is the ‘do not tumble dry’ icon, which is a circle within a crossed-out box. There are also separate symbols for drip dry, flat dry and hang dry recommendations.

Ironing your garments

Avoid putting the iron through your favourite shirt, dress or pair of trousers by following the advice given by the ironing symbols. The most common depict an iron with dots inside it, and these dots represent the highest temperature you should use. Cool irons (one dot) shouldn’t exceed 100 degrees Celsius; medium irons (two dots) shouldn’t heat up over 150 degrees Celsius; and hot irons (three dots) should max out at 200 degrees Celsius. If there are no dots within the icon, you can iron the garment at any temperature.

Other wash care labelling requirements

Occasionally, garment labels will contain guidance on dry cleaning procedures. These are mainly for the dry cleaner’s reference. The most important one from the wearer’s perspective is the bare circle – this means that the garment is dry clean only and shouldn’t be added into standard wash cycles. 

Can we get creative with wash care labels?

The aftercare instructions provided on your wash care labels are vital to guaranteeing a longer lifecycle for your garments – and ensuring your legal obligations are met. 
But though there are certain symbols you need to include within your designs, there’s no reason why you need to stick with something that’s dull and uninspiring! We can help you come up with a wash care label template that’s compliant yet eye-catching. And as there are plenty of materials and finishes to choose from, you’ll never be short of design ideas when you choose Hallmark Labels as your printed label supplier

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