Over Half of People Find Clothing Care Labels Confusing

A recent survey by an online label company has reported that 56% of people do not always understand the symbols on clothing care labels, leading to clothing being damaged and wasted as a result.

Buying a new item of clothing is usually exciting, but the worry comes after the first wear when it needs to be washed. With such a variety of symbols used on clothing labels, many of which seem to correspond so little with what it’s advising you to do, it’s no wonder that 56% of people are not certain on what the care symbols mean. The survey was conducted by Data Label, an online label company, to find out whether people find the instructions given by symbols on clothing tags to be difficult to understand. They surveyed 500 people in the UK, asking them: “Do you find the symbols on clothing care labels to be confusing?”

Of the 500 people that were asked 56% said they find them confusing: 24% gave a resounding yes that they don’t understand the symbols, and a further 32% confessed that they were sometimes confused by them. Given the fact that there are at minimum 22 basic symbols alone to do with washing, hand washing, ironing, tumble drying and dry cleaning an item of clothing, it’s not surprising that over half the people questioned can feel perplexed by them.

As a result of this, people admitted that they had thrown away or simply never worn an item of clothing because they’d washed that piece incorrectly and damaged it or were afraid of putting it into the wash and rendering it unwearable:

“I worry about washing clothes that are dry clean or hand wash only so I end up shoving them in the back of the wardrobe and never wear them.”

“I think I probably know what 3 or 4 of the symbols on clothes mean – most of the pictures don’t correspond with what they mean so I’m never quite sure what it’s telling me to do.”

Speaking of the results, Philip Carlyn at Data Label said:

“I wasn’t surprised to see that other people are as confused as we are by clothing care labels. Who hasn’t put an item of clothing to wash, only to find out when unloading the machine that the colour has run or that it’s half the size it used to be?”

He continued with a call for labels to be made simpler:

“If only the symbols on clothing were more similar to the instruction they were trying to advise or if it simply stated in words any specific care advice, many items of clothing might be safer!”

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