Providing this information to consumers helps them become aware of the method and cost of caring for textile goods when they are buying them. By following the care instructions the goods are less likely to be damaged or destroyed and more likely to last for a reasonable period of time.

What is the consumer information standard for care labelling?

The Consumer Information Standards (Care Labelling) Regulations 2000 (Regulations) set sections of the standard AS/NZS 1957:1998 Textiles – Care labelling with appropriate amendments as the official consumer information standard that suppliers of new textile goods in New Zealand must comply with.

What goods do the rules apply to?

Most types of new textiles are covered, including:

  • clothing, household fabrics, furnishings, upholstered furniture, bedding, mattresses and bed bases
  • plastics and plastic-coated fabrics
  • suede, skins, hides, grain leathers and furs.

Regardless of whether the item was made in New Zealand or overseas, or was made by machine or hand, it must comply with this standard.

Some textile goods are excluded, including:

  • second-hand goods
  • footwear (except hosiery) and textile materials used to manufacture footwear
  • floor cloths, dish cloths, dusters, cleaning cloths and pressing cloths
  • haberdashery such as elastic, elastic threads, ribbons, zips and velcro-type fasteners
  • jute products
  • goods intended for medical and surgical use as bandages, dressings, sanitary pads, and any materials that form part of manufactured medical and surgical goods.

Further details are available from the Standards NZ website.

Who do the rules apply to?

If you supply, offer to supply or advertise the supply of new textiles that require care labelling information, you must comply with the regulations.

This includes textile goods for sale:

  • in a shop
  • on online auction sites
  • at markets or stalls
  • in craft shops.

What are the care labelling requirements?

Care labels:

  • must be legible and in English
  • can use internationally recognised symbols (eg, for drycleaning) to accompany the written instructions
  • must be easy to find by consumers examining the good before buying
  • if the good requires a permanent label, the label must be able to withstand the care treatment the item requires and should remain readable and attached through the good's useful life.
  • should be on each item of a set (eg, a suit)

The label should include:

  • general cleaning and care instructions
  • where appropriate and necessary textile maintenance (eg, air regularly)
  • any warnings against inappropriate treatment (eg, do not tumble dry).

Some items don't have to have a permanent label but still need care instructions provided, for example on a label or ticket attached to the wrapping or packaging. This includes:

  • fashion accessories such as collars, gloves, mittens, hosiery, neckwear, incontinence garments, shawls, reversible jackets and fur garments
  • babywear accessories such as gloves, mittens, bibs, washable nappies, squares of flannelette, terry towelling or muslin
  • drapery items such as face washers, serviettes, doilies, tablecloths, tray cloths and runners, tea towels and place mats
  • haberdashery such as elastic, elastic threads, ribbons, zips and velcro-type fasteners
  • trims, eg, lace edging
  • shower curtains
  • gardening gloves.

A complete list of items not requiring a permanent label can be found in the Regulations.

What other labels are required?

Complying with the standard

It is your responsibility to ensure the goods you supply have the correct care labels. You cannot assume that goods comply with the standard because they have been offered for sale to you by a manufacturer or wholesaler.

If you have any concern that the goods you supply are not carrying the correct care labels, ask your supplier for more information about the tests that goods have been put through to check the appropriate care.

If you sell an item with no care label or an incorrect one, you will have breached the Fair Trading Act. It is an offence under section 28 of the Fair Trading Act to supply, offer to supply or advertise to supply textile goods without a care label.

We enforce the Fair Trading Act, and may issue you with an infringement notice requiring you to pay a fine of up to $1,000. Alternatively we may take a prosecution against you in Court if you breach the Act. Companies can be fined up to $30,000 for each breach of the Act. Individuals can be fined up to $10,000.

Who sets the consumer information standards?

The consumer informations standards are set by Standards NZ or equivalent overseas agencies. You can purchase a copy of any of the standards from Standards New Zealand by calling 0800 782 632 or visit www.standards.govt.nz. You can access the Regulations and the Fair Trading Act online at the government’s legislation website www.legislation.govt.nz. The information on this website is free.

Read more about care labelling, or go to the Standards New Zealand website to buy the standard.