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

Clothing label
Photo illustration by MML

There are lots of reasons that clothes and other gear need labels. Kids head to school, 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.

When senior citizens go to an assisted living facility, most institutions require that all of the washable clothes be labeled before they are taken to the laundry room.

Learn more about the various ways to label clothes and linens that will hopefully bring them 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 expense 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.

Laundry Markers

The easiest and least expensive way to label clothing is with a permanent ink laundry 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 on 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 in 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.

Shop for Laundry Markers on Amazon.com

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-ink bleeding and impossible to remove.

Shop for Laundry Stamps on Amazon.com

Iron-On Labels

Plenty of 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.

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 particularly helpful to know if your child springs the need for labels on you at the last minute.

Shop for Iron-On Clothing Labels on Amazon.com

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.

Shop for Peel and Stick Fabric Clothing Labels on Amazon.com

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 your 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.

Shop for Customized Sew-In Labels on Amazon.com

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.

Shop for Plastic Tag Labels on Amazon.com