Tuesday 8 July 2014


I don't take much notice of care labels
unless one of the plasticky ones is irritating my skin
where it is sewn into a seam.
Thus it was this morning, that I took a pair of scissors to
the labels in a new shirt, marvelling at the mine of information
contained on four of them in fifteen languages
and mentally consigning the spare buttons to the spare button drawer
holding all the other spare buttons for garments long forgotten.

Then I noticed the erratum slip - the prickliest culprit.
'Use mild detergent', it said.
They had gone to some trouble to insert this.
What must the original instruction have said?
I went back to the care label.
There were fifteen symbols on it.
My life was shortening as I tried to decipher them
but I needed to know what I might have done,
had I tried to obey the care instructions.

Cold rinse in early morning dew?
Wash only in asses' milk?
 Beat with twigs?

The shirt is grey with white polka dots.
If I had followed their injunction to use bleach
it would have been white with white polka dots.
Phew.Thank goodness I don't bother about care labels.


  1. I laugh myself silly at times over care instructions. I once bought a 4 euro shirt which contained something that resembled a scroll full of washing instructions. Unbelievable.

  2. Some of those symbols I have never seen. I think I shall have to look up all of them, just in case I should ever care enough to take notice.

  3. sadly the one time I didnt read the label my most favourite in the entire world not machine washable cardigan turned into a stiff felted lump....
    I like the care label that appears on pinterest quite often, it simply says "ask your mother"

  4. Great post. Love the comedy in everyday life.

  5. I think we probably pay more for the care labels than the garment itself - does anyone ever follow them - I think not.

  6. My washing machine exploded recently. I was proud to be so clean.

  7. If we followed all the instructions for the 'proper' way to wash garments, store spices, medicines and books we would have to build giant laundry rooms and climate controlled vaults. Tom Petty has a funny song about that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qs-6lj8KwvU
    I draw the line at washing jeans 'seperately, inside out, in cool water with similar colours on delicate setting.' They are jeans!