6 Ways to Label Clothes for Camp, College, or Assisted Living

different methods of labeling clothing

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

There are many reasons that clothes and other gear need to be labeled. Kids head to school or daycare or camp or join a sports team, and you'd like to have all those new clothes and equipment you purchased come home with them. Then they get older and head to college and have to share a communal laundry or laundry service where things can get lost.

When senior citizens or someone with physical or emotional needs go to a nursing care or an assisted living facility, most institutions require that all of the washable clothes be labeled before they are taken to the facility's laundry room.

Learn more about the various ways to label clothes and linens—some permanent, some not—that will hopefully bring items back to the place they belong.

6 Ways to Label Clothes

There is no single best way to label clothes due to different types of fabrics and how the garment is designed. Labeling options vary in cost, and you must decide if the label will be permanent or may need to be removed in the future. This guide will help you decide which type of labeling works best for you and your budget.


A small piece of masking tape and a permanent marker can be used in a pinch to label clothes. Write the name on the tape and stick it onto the fabric. Cover the tape with a pressing cloth and heat with a dry iron for 10 to 15 seconds. The tape will eventually peel after several washings, but is a good short term solution.

  1. Laundry or Fabric Markers

    The easiest and least expensive way to label clothing is with a permanent ink laundry marker or colorful fabric marker. The indelible ink lasts through many trips through the washing machine and is quick to use. The downside is that the ink can bleed through the fabric to the outside of a garment. And, once it does, the stain is permanent

    If you use a marker, always write the owner's name on the care tag or an inside seam. Protect the outside of the garment by placing some cardboard under the label area to catch any bleeding ink.

    Another downside of using a permanent marker is you may also have some unhappy hand-me-down recipients if an older sibling's name is on the shirt. A good suggestion is to use the family's last name only. It should also be noted that most items that are marked with indelible ink are not accepted by consignment shops for resale and are not usable by charities that distribute used clothing since the name is visible.

    labeling clothing with a laundry marker

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  2. Laundry Stamps

    Customized self-inking stamps can be purchased to mark clothing. Again, they are quick and easy to use and but have the same limitations as a permanent ink laundry marker. The ink can bleed through the fabric and is impossible to remove.

    stamp label

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  3. Iron-On Labels

    Plenty of fabric stores and websites sell plain or customized iron-on fabric labels. The plain labels can be personalized with a permanent ink laundry marker. These are convenient, not too expensive, and will usually last through the life of the garment. And, if the garment is handed down, a new label can be ironed over the last one.

    The downside of the labels is they are usually difficult to remove and may damage the fabric of the garment if you pull too hard. Some wearers also find them scratchy if placed near the neckline.

    You can make your own iron-on labels using twill tape, a laundry marker, and some fusible web (available online or at any craft store). This is a particularly helpful DIY to know if your child springs the need for labels on you at the last minute.

    iron on labels

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  4. Stick-On Fabric Labels

    If you don't even own an iron but still need to label clothes, there are peel and stick fabric labels for clothes. These are not quite as durable as iron-on labels and you may see them come off after multiple washings. However, they are easier to remove than iron-on labels if you plan to pass along the clothes or equipment. To remove, just follow the guidelines for getting rid of any sticky residue.

    stick-on labels

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  5. Sew-In Labels

    Beautiful custom woven labels can be ordered to both identify and enhance your garments. They can be designed to showcase the seamstress or knitter who made the garment or with a name or monogram for identification purposes. These are lovely, but sewing them in is time-consuming and they are the most expensive type of label. You must allow several weeks to place and receive your order.

    sew-in label

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  6. Plastic Tags

    One of the newest ways to label clothes is with a plastic tag similar to a price tag that can be attached to an interior seam, hem, or care label. The tag does not fade, is resistant to high temperatures, and can be removed. You must order in advance and use a custom device to attach and remove the tags.

    plastic hang tag clothing label

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida