Do you ever take care labels on your clothes seriously?

Do you ever wonder why your clothes lose their charm in no time after purchase? On display, that hot orange outfit looks so pretty, but suddenly turns into a “tie and dye” after the first washing.

The bold coffee brown outfit becomes pale after the first ironing and you then label it China-made. You could be wrong. Not every China-make outfit is fake as many think.

Some people like Joan Basoga quickly blame the places where one buys the garment from. She says: “That is exactly what one gets from shopping in cheap places like open markets.”

But how does she explain an incident where Jeffery Opio bought a bold grey casual shirt from an upscale men’s shop in town, but after the first ironing, it turned pale grey?

That is all a result of ignoring the care labels on some clothing items.

Brenda Maraka, a fashion designer says: “To be on the safe side, before you buy any clothing, whether from the open market or shops, one should always read the care labels to find out how they are cared for.”

She explains that there are some fabrics which are very delicate and need to be ironed or washed on the reverse (inside out). Some need to be ironed at particular temperature. Others need special washing detergent, or not to be washed or ironed at all, but just dry-cleaned, tumble-dried or steamed.

“Everyone is free to buy their choice of clothing, especially young people who are still experimenting with trends. They, however, should be careful when buying clothing that requires dry cleaning only, as these can be worn a few times only, unless someone is willing to part with a dry cleaning fee all the time. Not even the dry cleaners are reliable,” Maraka says.

She adds that most people do not read the care labels. “One day I got a phone call from a dry cleaning agent who wanted me to replace a client’s shrunk dress that he washed instead of dry-cleaning it,” she says.

Maraka also says there are fabrics that are very difficult to care for, even when the care labels are provided. Such fabrics include suede, silk, linen and our very own African prints.

“Such fabrics require extra care. One should not over-wash them. If they have care labels, follow them through,” she says.

Some of the symbols and what they mean

Circle: Means dry cleaning. Any letter in the circle represents the type of dry cleaning.

Iron: Dots inside the iron represent the degree of temperature to iron.

Basin: Washing, the dots in the basin show the temperature at which to wash.

Square: Drying, dots in the square show the temperature to tumble dry, a hanging line means you can line dry, the drops of water mean drip dry and straight line means dry it in straight position.

Triangle: Bleaching

(X) In the symbols above means you cannot wash, or do either of the above.