Federal Trade Commission Announced That it May Amend its Care Labeling Rule

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The Federal Trade Commission announced that it may amend its Care Labeling Rule, which requires labels to be placed in clothing and certain other piece goods indicating instructions for at least one safe method for cleaning the product. The Commission is seeking comment from industry and the public in three general areas:

  • whether the Rule should be amended to accommodate new technologies that have been developed in recent years for cleaning a wider variety of garments with water (commonly referred to as "professional wet cleaning"). The Commission also seeks comment on whether the Rule should be amended to require a washing instruction for any garment that can be washed. This change would make this information available to consumers who wish to reduce the use of dry cleaning solvents that may be damaging to the environment and also would allow consumers to save the expense of dry cleaning for garments that can be laundered safely at home. Currently, the Rule allows garments that can be either washed or dry cleaned to be labeled "dry clean" with no reference to whether or not the garment can be washed; and
  • whether the portion of the Rule requiring manufacturers to have a "reasonable basis" for the care instructions they include on labels should be clarified to reduce the problem of inaccurate and incomplete care labels. The Commission proposes several options for doing this.
  • whether the definition of water temperatures should be amended to more accurately reflect current washing machine settings and consumer practice.

Comments on these and other questions, detailed in a notice published in today's Federal Register, are due March 12. This call for public comment follows a more general solicitation announced by the FTC in June 1994. The FTC received 81 comments in response to that request, many of which discussed the use of care symbols, rather than words, in part to harmonize U.S. care labeling regulation with Canada and Mexico. On Nov. 14, the Commission proposed to allow symbols. The comment period on that proposal ends Jan. 31, 1996.

Comments should be captioned "16 CFR Part 423" and sent to the Office of the Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, Room 159, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.

The Commission vote to issue the advanced notice of proposed rulemaking announced today was 5-0.

Copies of the Federal Register Notice, the Commission's Care Labeling Rule, and the proposal with regard to care symbols are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov


(FTC Matter No. R511915)

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