The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed amendments to its Rule on Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel and Certain Piece Goods—found at 16 C.F.R. § 423 (the "Care Labeling Rule")—that, if adopted, would impact both manufacturers and importers of textile wearing apparel. The Care Labeling Rule requires manufacturers and importers of textile wearing apparel to attach regular care label instructions on such apparel. If the required labels are not attached, this would be considered an unfair and deceptive act and could result in various sanctions against a manufacturer or importer, including recall and refusal of admission of the particular item into the United States.

The proposed amendments to the Care Labeling Rule would, among other things:

  • Require professional wetcleaning instructions on applicable labels. (Wetcleaning is an alternative to drycleaning that involves using water and special technology that is more environmentally friendly than drycleaning.)
  • Permit the use of American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or International Organization for Standardization (IOS) symbols in lieu of written care terms.
  • Clarify the definition of dryclean to include current practices.
  • Clarify what would constitute a reasonable basis for care instructions.

Those wishing to comment on the proposed amendments can do so by November 16, 2012. The amendments have had widespread support in the textile industry and are likely to continue to move forward with little opposition. Both manufacturers and importers of wearing apparel should be prepared to ensure their compliance with the new law, as the proposed amendments would likely take effect in early 2013.