As part of the Federal Trade Commission’s systematic review of all current FTC rules and guides, the FTC is seeking public comment on a proposed repeal of the Care Labeling Rule. The Rule may not be necessary to ensure manufacturers provide care instructions, may have failed to keep up with a dynamic marketplace, and may negatively affect the development of new cleaning technologies and care symbol revisions.
Formally called the Rule on Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel and Certain Piece Goods, the Rule has been in effect since 1971. The Rule requires manufacturers and importers to attach labels with care instructions for garments and certain piece goods, providing instructions for dry cleaning or washing, bleaching, drying, and ironing clothing.
The FTC sought public comment on the overall costs, benefits, and necessity of the Care Labeling Rule in 2011, as well on proposed amendments to the Rule in 2012. In 2014, the Commission held a roundtable event to examine the proposed amendments.
In a Supplementary Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to be published in the Federal Register, the Commission notes comments received throughout the review process on a number of topics. The notice states that the record in the rulemaking suggests that:
- manufacturers are likely to provide care instructions in the absence of the Rule;
- the Rule may have failed to keep up with the fabric care marketplace;
- the Rule may have hampered innovation in the development of cleaning technologies and disclosures; and
- the Rule’s repeal would provide additional flexibility to manufacturers and ease possible confusion for some consumers about the disclosures required by the Rule.
The notice requests comments from the public on a number of questions, including the costs and benefits to manufacturers, cleaners, and consumers if the Rule is repealed or retained; what deceptive or unfair practices exist in the marketplace related to care labeling; the impact of repeal on the care instructions manufacturers currently provide to consumers; and whether manufacturers would bear additional costs to make substantiated and accurate disclosures to consumers in the absence of the Rule.
The Commission vote approving the Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was 3-1-1, with Commissioner Rohit Chopra voting no and issuing a dissenting statement and Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter not participating. The notice will published in the Federal Register soon. Instructions for filing comments appear in the notice. Comments must be received 60 days after publication and will be posted on regulations.gov.