The hidden dangers of washing labels

Did you know that the labels in your garments can be ticking time bombs? If you are buying readymade T-Shirts to print on: When was the last time you checked the labels inside the garments?

You‘d be surprised how many people overlook this simple, yet serious fact:When t-shirts are made, most of the t-shirt suppliers label the garments with wash and care instructions designed for their BLANK T-SHIRT!

The consequences of invalid labels


When you place a print or decoration on t-shirts, the wash and care labels may be not valid anymore.


We give you an example:

  • Imagine you receive an order of black t-shirts to be printed on.
  • You get the t-shirts from your stock – probably manufactured somewhere in the world by one of the t-shirts leading brands suppliers – print the design on and send out to your customer.
  • So far so good, right? Not quite.

The wash and care instructions on the labels are designed to provide guidelines to consumers, and they expect to receive the correct information on those labels. They assume if they follow the instructions closely, the garment and print are staying in impeccable shape.

It is very understandable, that customers are extremely unhappy if their expectations about the washability are not met.

Nobody likes faded colors or cracked white ink layers. That does not look very good. And we believe no printer likes to receive lots of customer complaints about washing issues. Especially, if they could have been prevented by just replacing the label which for example states that the garment is washable at 60°C or add a simple „wash inside out“.

These symbols can make the difference between a happy and an unhappy customer


These are the most important symbols to have a look at:

Washing instructions

Check for the recommended temperature on the labels and additional information, e.g. wash inside out.

Bleaching instructions

The labels of the original garment may allow (or even ask for) additional bleach during washing.

Drying instructions

Can your decorated T-Shirt survive inside a dryer?

Ironing instructions

Is it possible to iron over your print? If not, this should be revised.

Damage to garments caused by incorrect wash and care methods leads to complaints or even returns; consequently causing a bad image to the company.

On the other side, the consumer wishes to have clearly explained care instructions as a cleaning guide. Note that this can also influence their purchase decision (for example, we don‘t buy anything that asks for hand wash only). Consumers will prefer to have garments with ease of care rather than the ones with complicated or difficult to understand wash and care procedures.

On top of that, the consumer following the instructions expects to have an impeccable garment after several washes.

Obviously, the t-shirt manufacturers can not guess what the customer (being a print shop or end consumer) will do with their blank t-shirts. Let me stress the fact that most of the wash and care labels sewn into the garments are designed for blank t-shirts only. So it is your responsibility as a printer to add the correct labels to your garments.

What can you do to solve these issues

Step 1: Establish your washing standards

First of all, make sure to figure out that you know the correct washing settings so you know which information to forward to your customers.
Do a simple wash test and see what works and does not work.

Tip: If you need some input on this, we will release some helpful information on how to do that soon.

Step 2: Check the labels

Check the original labels and compare with you washing standards. Maybe you get lucky and the original labels from the blank T-Shirt match your settings. But, chances are very high that you will not get so lucky.

Step 3: Relabel

Consider one of the following solutions:


  • Sew in a new label.
  • Print a new „label“ inside the T-Shirt
  • Another cheap solution could be to stick custom printed self-adhesive wash care labels over the old one (a Google search can help you find a lot of suppliers)
  • If you have a very big turnover, you could ask your supplier to provide T-Shirts with wash and care labels more appropriated for your use.
  • You can add a small info sheet with the most important wash and care instructions to the shipment.

Final thoughts

As you can see, a few simple actions can help you avoid unnecessary headaches with your customers.
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