On July 21, 2021, during an open Commission meeting, the Federal Trade Commission (Commission) voted to retain its longstanding Care Labeling Rule. This decision came after the Commission previously sought comment (in July 2020) on a proposal to repeal. The Rule, which has been in effect since 1971, requires manufacturers and importers to affix labels to certain garments and other goods providing care instructions, including dry cleaning or washing, bleaching, drying and ironing.

The Commission received well over 200 comments to its 2020 proposal, the majority of which opposed repealing the Rule. Opponents, including individuals and small businesses, emphasized that consumers rely on labels to extend the life of their clothes. Others, including stakeholders in the manufacturing and cleaning industries, explained that removing labels would increase the likelihood that items would be damaged in the wash and, as a result, expose their businesses to unnecessary liability.

FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra lamented that the 2020 proposal “c[a]me out of nowhere” and “created immediate panic among small businesses in the laundry and dry cleaning sector.” The agency’s unanimous decision to retain the Rule ensures manufacturers, retailers, designers and dry cleaners have access to valuable guidance and that consumers continue to get accurate, useful information on how to properly care for their fabrics. The FTC noted in its official statement that it would continue to consider ways to improve the Rule for consumers and businesses in the future.