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By Wunderlabel on 04/23/2024

Innovations and Legal Requirements for Laundry Labels in the USA

Innovations and Legal Requirements for Laundry Labels in the USA

As a laundry label expert and manufacturer, Wunderlabel continuously monitors and implements technical advances in the textile and label industries. 
In this article, we will look at the latest innovations in care label materials and printing, and examine the legal requirements and standards that guide and regulate these innovations.

1. Innovations and New Technologies in the Production of Laundry Labels in the USA

The evolution of care labeling in the USA reflects the continued innovation and advancement in the textile industry. Through the use of new technologies, materials and improved labeling methods, the future of fabric labeling is becoming increasingly digital and interactive. Interactive features such as QR codes and RFID provide an added dimension of user-friendliness. New technologies and materials and improved labeling methods have not only improved production efficiency, but have also revolutionized and enhanced the consumer experience.

1.1. New Technologies and Materials

Traditional paper laundry tags have evolved to meet the challenges of the modern textile market. Waterproof and durable materials, such as Tyvek, make it possible to permanently affix washing instructions to garments. By using high-tech materials such as polymers and coated papers, clothing labels remain legible and intact even after repeated washing and wearing.
Wunderlabel produces laundry labels not only in Tyvek, but also in recycled satin and cotton.

1.2. New Technologies and Printing of Laundry Labels

There have been a number of innovations and technologies in laundry label printing in recent years that have improved the efficiency, quality and versatility of the printing process. Some of these innovations include DTF transfer printing, flexographic printing, dye sublimation printing, UV printing, RFID technology, and thermal transfer printing.
Wunderlabel mainly uses DTF transfer, flexographic printing and thermal transfer printing for the production of laundry tags.

1.2.1. DTF Transfer Printing

Wunderlabel uses innovative DTF transfer printing to produce DTF neck labels, which often include laundry instructions.
With DTF transfer printing for textiles, the manufacturing process starts with transferring a digital image to a computer. The DTF printing machine prints this image onto a carrier film using a special ink. The ink is a special pigment ink suitable for fabric and other materials. The printer then coats the image with an adhesive.
After setting, the image is ready to be transferred to the product using heat and pressure. Irons and heat presses can both be used.
DTF transfer printing offers high quality and durability because the ink is applied directly to the film. This results in better color saturation and accuracy.

DTF Transfer Printing

1.2.2. Flexo Printing

Various materials are suitable for flexographic printing: fabrics (e.g. cotton, polyester, Tyvek), thin foils, all types of paper and cardboard, as well as materials with rough surfaces. Wunderlabel uses this innovative flexographic printing process for the production of cotton care labels. The water-based ink is free of harmful substances and certified according to ECO PASSPORT by OEKO-TEX®.
The printing process is similar to stamping. The first step in the process is the creation of the artwork, where the design is transferred to a flexo printing plate. This plate is then mounted on a cylinder printing press.
During the printing process, the impression cylinder guides the printed fabric. The prepared printing plate transfers the design onto the fabric. After the ink has dried, the manufacturer fixes the ink and hot-cuts the garment labels.

Flexo Printing wunderlabel

1.2.3. Thermal Transfer Printing

Thermal transfer printing uses a printer with special thermal transfer ribbons and a printhead.  
After setting the printing temperature, the manufacturer inserts the thermal transfer ribbon. The printing machine feeds the material, such as fabric, under the print head and heats the thermal transfer ribbon.
The melted ribbon becomes the ink, which the print head transfers to the material. The ink cools and hardens, permanently bonding to the material.

Thermal Transfer Printing

1.2.4. Other Innovative Printing Methods for Laundry Labels

  • Digital Printing

Digital technologies enable high-resolution, accurate and cost-effective laundry label printing. This technology offers the flexibility to personalize labels with a variety of data, such as individual care instructions or barcodes.

  • Sublimation Printing 

With sublimation printing, the dyes penetrate directly into the material. The result is vibrant colors and a soft touch. This process is particularly suitable for printing on materials such as satin and polyester, and offers a high level of resistance to washing and abrasion.

  • UV Printing

UV printing technologies use ultraviolet light to dry inks instantly. This results in shorter production times and reduces the need for post-processing. UV prints are also more durable and more resistant to external influences such as moisture or abrasion.

  • RFID Technology

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags enable wireless identification and tracking of products throughout their lifecycle. By integrating RFID into care labels, manufacturers can improve traceability and collect information on care, product efficiency, sustainability, and origin.

The above-mentioned printing processes are driven in part by growing environmental awareness. Innovative printers are helping manufacturers reduce the use of chemicals and resources in production. They use environmentally friendly inks, recyclable materials and energy-efficient printing processes. This has significantly improved the quality, durability and functionality of labels. The innovations at Wunderlabel are also creating new opportunities for more personalized and sustainable labeling solutions.

2. Legal Requirements and Standards in the USA for Care Labels in the Textile Industry

The United States has established extensive legal requirements and standards for care labeling on garments. These  labeling regulations include both domestic and international requirements. They ensure the consistency and accuracy of laundry labels and influence manufacturing practices throughout the textile industry.

2.1. Mandatory Labeling and Marking

Mandatory labeling and marking in the United States is critical to the textile industry and consumer protection. 
The U.S. has adopted a number of federal regulations, such as the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act and the Care Labeling Rule. These laws define the mandatory information for textiles, what information must be included on laundry labels and how it must be presented. 
Under Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations, manufacturers must correctly label textile products to provide consumers with accurate information about the composition, laundering instructions and country of origin of the products. These labeling requirements are designed to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions and ensure that products comply with applicable standards and regulations.
Manufacturers and retailers who fail to comply with these regulations face legal consequences, including fines, product recalls, or even lawsuits from consumers or government agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission. In addition, products imported into the United States must also meet FTC requirements. Failure to do so may result in seizure or rejection by the authorities.
At the international level, organizations such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Trade Commission (ITC) often support the U.S. guidelines. They establish uniform global standards for labeling to facilitate trade and provide consistent information to consumers.

2.2. Standardized Care Symbols and Labels

The USA uses standardized care symbols and labels. These symbols are internationally recognized and allow consumers to easily understand the instructions regardless of language. The FTC has established clear guidelines for the use of these symbols and regulates their use.
Some of the FTC's key guidelines are

  • Standardization of Symbols

The FTC has developed a list of standardized, internationally recognized symbols that should be used for care labeling. These symbols include pictograms for washing, bleaching, drying and ironing instructions, as well as additional symbols for special care instructions such as dry cleaning or professional cleaning.


  • Size and placement

Symbols must be appropriately sized and prominently displayed on the laundry label so that consumers can easily recognize and interpret them.

  • Comprehensibility

 Symbols must be clear and universally understandable, regardless of the consumer's language. Consumers around the world should be able to interpret the care instructions correctly.

  • Labeling Guidelines

The FTC has also established guidelines for labeling apparel, including requirements for the materials and durability of wash labels.

3. Impact of Legislation on Production Practices

Regulatory requirements and standards in the U.S. have a significant impact on manufacturing practices in the textile industry. Producers must label their products correctly to gain consumer confidence and avoid legal problems. Violations of FTC regulations can result in legal consequences, including fines and other penalties.
Compliance requires careful planning and implementation of care labeling into the production process. Manufacturers must ensure that they use their proprietary care symbols in accordance with FTC regulations and that their products meet the highest standards. Additionally, understanding the history of laundry labels helps manufacturers navigate through evolving regulatory landscapes, ensuring their compliance and maintaining consumer trust. 
However, innovations in materials and printing technologies are enabling manufacturers to produce more efficiently and accurately, making compliance easier. Companies that adapt to these innovations and meet regulatory requirements have a competitive advantage in the marketplace. By using the latest technologies, they can also respond more flexibly to these significant changes in regulations while improving the quality and efficiency of their production processes.