23 Aug Stain Removal and the Care Label Rule
Most clothing sold in the United States must have a care label attached. The instructions will give a care procedure “necessary for the ordinary use and enjoyment of the product.” A cleaner is not required to follow the label, but a manufacturer will not be responsible for damage that occurs in processes other than that recommended on the care label. It is easy to understand that the cleaner is responsible for damage if a dress or pair of pants is labeled “washable” and a color change occurs in drycleaning. But who is responsible for the risk of a stain removal procedure?
The simple answer is: the cleaner. A garment that is drycleanable does not have to be colorfast to any cleaning solution other than solvent.
The Fair Claims Guide states, “Any person who undertakes to perform a care process other than that specified or allowed by the care instructions assumes full responsibility for that care process, unless the owner of the product has authorized the service beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Stain removal (spotting) procedures using agents such as oily-type paint removers, neutral synthetic detergents, and tannin or protein formulas that may damage the color in a fabric are applied at the cleaner’s risk.
There is some controversy over the colorfastness of a drycleanable garment to the water in stain removal. A fabric should be colorfast to water to provide serviceability.
However, colorfastness to water that might contact a garment during wear, such as rain or a beverage, is not the same as the amount of water needed in a stain removal procedure. Prolonged contact with moisture will cause some dyes to bleed. Water at elevated temperatures, such as steam, will also promote dye bleeding. A fabric that bleeds immediately and heavily to contact with water at room temperature is considered unserviceable. The water or steam used in a stain removal procedure usually exceeds the amount required for good serviceability.