About care Labels

Cleaning instructions on clothing explained

Canada's Care Labelling Program

Care labels enable your dry cleaner to properly clean and finish your garment. It is important for consumers to realize that care labels are not required by law in Canada. The Canadian Care Labelling Program is a voluntary system of providing garment care instructions through the use of simple symbols. Though the law doesn't require a label, if a label is present, it is required to be accurate. *

Although the program is voluntary, most reputable garment manufacturers will include care labels on their clothing. But be aware that if you purchase an item without a care label, the manufacturer has no liability for any damage that may occur when cleaning.

The Canadian Fabricare Association recommends that consumers only purchase garments with care labels attached.

When manufacturers use the Care Labelling System they must:

  • ensure that the label is capable of withstanding the recommended care procedures and remains legible and firmly attached for at least ten cleanings or throughout the life of the garment.
  •  indicate at least one method of garment care, but they may, if they choose, provide additional care instructions.
  • be sure that the care procedure described works for all areas of the garment including trim, lace, buttons, beads, etc.

What are the Care Labelling Symbols?

The Canadian Guide to Apparel and Textile Care Symbols uses five basic symbols.

Any symbol with a cross through it is telling you to "stop" – that method of cleaning will ruin your garment.

Temperature Markings

Different garments will need to be washed and finished at different temperatures. It's important for the consumer to understand that only your dry cleaner can provide all of the temperature settings required for washing and finishing

Washing temperatures are always indicated in Celsius, usually within the washing symbol on the care label. There are four maximum washing temperatures that are used, 300 C, 400 C, 500 C and 700 C.

Ironing temperatures can be indicated using temperatures in Celsius degrees, or with dots.

The dot symbols indicate:

One dot means 110 C,  

Two dots mean 150 C,  

Three dots mean 200 C

What should you do?

  • Always check for a care label before purchasing any garment.
  • Keep the care label intact so you or your dry cleaner will know the manufacturer's recommended care instructions.
  • If you follow the care instructions and your garment is damaged, take it back to the retailer. If the retailer is unwilling to help you resolve the problem, contact the garment manufacturer.
  • When a manufacturer is not willing rectify a problem with a garment, you can contact Industry Canada's Competition Bureau. Your call will provide them with important information and could result in further investigation. Check the Blue Pages for the regional office nearest you or visit their internet site at www.competition.ic.gc.ca.

Ask your Canadian Fabricare Association member dry cleaner any questions you might have about care labels.

For more information...

An in-depth explanation of care labels and symbols is available here in a pdf. Click to open, then print or save to your computer for later reference.


*Canada's Textile Labelling Act, subsection 5(1)

"No dealer shall apply to a consumer textile article a label, or sell, import into Canada or advertise a consumer textile article that has applied to it a label containing any false or misleading representation that relates to or may reasonably be regarded as relating to the article."