Bolton Consultancy Ltd

Care Labelling

ISO 3758 Symbols


The first five symbols above are the basis of the standard and relate to: Washing, Bleaching, Drying, Ironing, and Professional Cleansing, and should be used in the order shown here. The sixth symbol X is used over any of the others to indicate that the process should NOT be done. Temperatures, agitation,and solvents are indicated by figures, bars, dots and letters according to rules set out in BS EN ISO 3758.

A number of issues with the system of symbols have been considered by the standards committees ranging from changes to cleansing technology to the legibility of symbols printed on labels.  An updated BS EN ISO 3758:2012 was published in April 2012 and previous versions are withdrawn.

At Bolton Consultancy Ltd we have many years experience working with Retailers, the HLCC, and the committee responsible for BS EN ISO 3758 (BSI TCI82 Committee for Care Labeling and Cleansing of Textiles) and can help with any aspect of care labelling.

Industrial Cleaning Symbols

The standard for industrial cleaning, ISO/DIS 30023, is currently in discussion and proposes the following symbol to identify the recommended process.

Information Sheets

Click on the image to download the PDF.

ISO Care Labelling

Questions on Care Labelling

Here are some of the questions that are being asked on care labelling:

Why does BS EN ISO 3758 refer to different symbols?

As a generalisation, domestic laundry practice varies around the world.

In the UK and EU washing is done in washing machines which have a similar wash action, with the drums rotating vertically round a central arm. Modern machines are cold fill and are fitted with heaters.

Japan washing machines are smaller and different shape. They tend to be top loading cylindrical machines, with a base impellor to agitate clothes.

USA, Australia, and New Zealand tend to have large top loading machines with a central propeller-type agitator. These machines have no heater, and rely on the hot and cold fill from the domestic supply. Following environmental legislation in USA, EU style machines are now being introduced.

The international care symbols have to accommodate all these different washing machines and "normal" consumer habits.

Customers have complained that a high street dry cleaner has refused to clean a child's feather filled gilet - marked dry clean only - on safety grounds. Why might this be?

A number of incidents have been recorded where a fatality has been attributed to the presence of residual solvent post dry cleaning. Environmental issues have resulted in dry cleaning programs being less effective in removing solvent hence cleaners may be inclined towards caution and refuse to dry clean articles intended for child use. Feather filled items such as pillows should be specified to ensure cleansing not involving organic solvents is advised.

As the symbols indicate the maximum recommended treatment how can we advise our customers of a minimum treatment to ensure the item is cleaned?

While ISO 3758 is about cleansing it does not deal with cleaning effectiveness. It considers only what cleansing processes can be applied without causing damage to the product in areas such as:

A standard for cleaning effectiveness has not been developed because of the complexity of stains and their removal - cleaning effectiveness is highly dependent on the nature of the stain, the composition of cleaning chemicals (detergents, solvents etc.) and the processes applied (soaking, temperature, agitation etc.) - although this is assesed by detergent makers using standard stains and textiles.