• Clothing and Textiles Regulations in the United States: A Complete Guide

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    Planning to manufacture, import or sell clothing or other textiles in the United States? In this guide, we explain what you must know about chemical regulations, labeling requirements, lab testing and much more concerning textiles compliance in the United States.

    This is covered

    • California Proposition 65
    • Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA)
    • Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA)
    • Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)
    • ASTM Clothing Standards
    • US Textiles Labeling Rules
    • Country of Origin
    • Clothing Lab Testing

    California Proposition 65

    Proposition 65 is a California state law that requires businesses with 10 or more employees to provide warning signs on their products if the product contains any chemical that can cause cancer or reproductive harm. CA Prop 65 applies to all consumer products including both children’s and adult products sold in California. Hence, apparel and textiles are also under CA Prop 65 as well.

    Notice that CA Prop 65 is just allowing consumers to know if any toxins in their products. It does not necessarily mean that a product violates the safety standards or requirements if it does or may contain any of the restricted substance. However, fail to comply with CA Prop 65 warning labeling rules can result in up to $2500 per day per violation.

    In term of textiles, some substances are used in the textile industry that also regulated under CA Prop 65 such as lead, cadmium, and phthalates. When you importing textile products and sell in or to Calfornia, it is important to comply with CA Prop 65.

    How do I know which chemicals and heavy metals are restricted?

    You can check with the CA Prop 65 chemical substance list through WestLaw. We recommend lab testing your products before entering the U.S. The laboratories can confirm which substances and heavy metals to check – meaning that you don’t really need to keep track of the exact substances that are covered in CA Prop 65.

    Examples of restricted chemicals and heavy metals

    • Lead acetate
    • Oxymetholone
    • Propoxur
    • Chloral
    • Mineral oils

    US textiles label

    Is lab testing mandatory?

    No. The lab testing for substance regulations such as CA Prop 65 is not mandatory. However, we recommend the lab test because it prevents risks on compliance issues as mentioned.

    Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA)

    When importing textile products to the U.S., the FFA must be followed. The FFA is an act to regulate products that are highly flammable including clothing, mattresses, carpet, rugs, etc..
    The flammability standards issued under this regulation must have complied or it will result in penalties for violation.

    When is FFA applicable?

    The FFA issued mandatory flammability standards for apparel & textiles products.

    Here are some products covered by the FFA

    • Clothing textiles
    • Vinyl plastic film in clothing
    • Carpets
    • Rugs
    • Children’s sleepwear
    • Mattresses

    However, not all fabric products are covered by the FFA, here are some exemptions:

    Not covered by the FFA

    • Hat
    • Glove
    • Footwear
    • Handkerchief

    Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA)

    The FHSA regulate household products that contain potential hazards such as corrosive, reactive and toxic substances. The FHSA requires labeling to alert consumers about the potential hazards and what they need to do to protect themselves from hazards.

    The FHSA also cover with the flammable chemicals and retardants which are commonly used in the textile industry. Take Formaldehyde as an example – a chemical substance to increase wrinkle and crease resistance in textile, which is also restricted under the FHSA.

    Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)

    The CPSIA focus only on Children’s products which are defined as any consumer product designed or intended primarily for children 12 years of age or younger by the U.S. government. With that said, children’s clothing is also covered by the CPSIA as well.

    In terms of children’s textile products, you must comply with all applicable children’s product safety rules. For example, the flammability requirements and labeling requirements which are listed under CPSIA.

    Importers for regulated products under CPSIA must also present the tracking label and include the information as below:

    • The manufacturer or private labeler name
    • Location and date of production of the product
    • Detailed information on the manufacturing process
    • Other information to facilitate the source of the product

    ASTM Clothing Standards

    ASTM is an international standards organization that publish different types of standards for corporation or government, and the standards have been adopted in the United States. ASTM also provide textile standards for specifications and test method.

    Notice that ASTM’s standards are voluntary unless the standard is incorporated by reference.
    In terms of textiles product, here are the standards that have been incorporated into the law:

    1. Children’s upper outerwear must be in conformance with ASTM F1816-97

    2. Standard Guide for care symbols for care instructions on Textile products – ASTM D5489

    Care instructions

    US Textiles Labeling Rules

    When it comes to textiles labeling regulations, the U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Federal Trade Commission(FTC) are responsible for enforcing labeling laws and acts.

    In general, most clothing and home textile products are covered by the labeling requirements. Notice that the labeling requirements do not apply until the products are ready for sale to consumers.

    Covered Products:

    • Clothing except for hats and shoes
    • Curtains and casements
    • Rugs, carpets, and mats
    • All fibers, yarns, and fabrics
    • Cushions

    Not Covered:

    • Secondhand household textile items
    • Textile products manufactured exclusively for their own employees
    • Any textile product that contains any amount of wool – covered by the Wool act
    • Bags
    • Belts, Diaper liners, Shoelaces that without any Fiber

    On the other hand, textile and apparel products to be sold in the United States must be labeled with the following information:

    • The fiber content
    • The country of origin
    • The manufacturer or dealer identity
    • The care instructions

    Fiber Composition

    As the fiber content is required to be provided on content labels, here we listed some common textile fibers and its attribute for reference.

    • Silk – Smooth fabric finish with shine surface
    • Wool – Warmth
    • Cotton – Lightweight and absorbent
    • Nylon – Durable, strong, lightweight and dries quickly
    • Polyester – Durable, strong, lightweight and dries quickly
    • Cashmere wool – Softness

    Placement

    The FTC has specified the placement of the required labeling. In general, the label must be conspicuous and accessible on the inside or outside the product, and the country of origin label should not be covered by any other label.

    Label Placement Examples

    1. For garments, the label must be attached near the inside center of the neck. The fiber content and manufacturer could be disclosed on another label attached to a side beam.

    2. For Skirts, the label inside of the waistband is preferable.

    3. For pillowcase, the label should be attached on the inside close to the open end.

    Sizes

    Size labeling is not mandatory for textile products in the U.S. However, the ASTM has established the standard body measurement for apparel sizing.
    If you choose to put the size label on your product, it is important to follow the standards.

    Here are some references:

    Care Instructions

    The care instruction is required under the FTC labeling rule. Manufacturers and importers must attach the care instructions permanently to garments.

    Care symbols are standardized under ASTM D5489-96c – the standard guide for care symbols for care instructions on textile products.

    Care labels must state what regular care is necessary for the ordinary use of the product. For example, if the garment cannot be cleaned without harm, a warning sign should be provided.

    Country of Origin

    The country of origin labeling is mandatory under the FTC rule, and it must be on the front of the label. The country of origin label should not be covered by any other label.

    Examples

    • Made in China
    • Made in Vietnam
    • Made in USA

    Country of Origin Rules

    The country of origin label must represent the actual manufacturing country. You are not allowed to claim that the product is manufactured elsewhere by, for example, shipping the product for relabeling or repacking in a third country.

    Made in USA

    Noticed that marketers and manufacturers promote their products as “Made in USA”, must meet or virtually meet all the requirements published by FTC.

    Here are some requirements for Made in USA labeling

    1. The significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of U.S. origin.

    2. If the product is not entirely made in USA, the claim should include the description of extent, amount of domestic content or processing.

    3. US content must be disclosed on textile products.

    Language

    The English language is mandatory. However, other languages can be added in addition to the English language version of the label.

    Woman shopping online

    Clothing Lab Testing

    California Proposition 65 testing

    CA Prop 65 requires warnings about significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm. However, it is difficult for importers to know what substances are contained in their clothing products. With that said, we recommend you to make a CA prop 65 test request to the laboratory in order to comply with the regulation when importing to California.

    List of CA Prop 65 Testing Companies:

    • SGS
    • QIMA
    • Intertek
    • TUV
    • Bureau Veritas

    Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA) lab testing

    Under FFA, CPSC issued the mandatory flammability standards for the clothing textiles and Importers will be responsible for meeting the standards. A lab test is the only way to ensure the flammability of your clothing products has complied with FFA.

    Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) lab testing

    FHSA required cautionary labeling to the hazard associated with the use of the product, also listed the banned hazardous substances for clothing products. Although lab test is usually not mandatory, it is still beneficial for you to make sure your products do not contain any restricted substance under FHSA.

    List of FFA Lab Testing Companies

    • SGS
    • UL
    • STC

    CPSIA lab testing for clothing

    CPSIA requires children’s products including clothing, to comply with the safety rules and also be tested for compliance by a CPSC-accepted accredited laboratory. On the other hand, CPSIA also requires a General Certificate of Conformity (GCC) for non-children’s products. In order to comply with CPSIA, importers must use the CPSC-Accepted testing laboratories and it is available through CPSC website.

    List of CPSIA Lab Testing Companies

    • TUV
    • SGS
    • UL
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