Saturday, 1 August 2015

Iron-On name Labels test

Iron-on name labels are not only Camp Connection’s number one selling item on-line, but our number one selling item across the entire store, so I thought it was only appropriate that I pull out my Iron and put these labels through their paces.  First though, I needed to find my iron.
Camp Connection’s Iron On name tags have been available just as they are for something like 20 years. For a product to be a number one seller for that long without any change, there must be something to it, right?
The labels are ½ inch by 2 inch cloth strips (50% Cotton/50% Polyester), starched to make them easy to apply. They come in perforated sheets of 100.  The name is printed on in black laundry ink using -of all things- dot matrix printers imported direct from 1976.  This not only explains why there is no custom formatting (Colour choice is black or black, letter choice is block or block), it also explains why in the busy season many of Camp Connection’s staff hear the soothing sounds of dot matrix printers in their dreams.

The name tags are bare-bones basic. They’re not pretty but they are not designed to be.  The claim to fame with these labels is simple: ‘you put them on and they stay.’  No bells, no whistles, but no hassle.  If you’re looking for prettier labels, or to fasten to something more than fabric, you’ll want to check out the stick-onlabels.
The name tags come with an instruction sheet. I read it carefully then picked up my iron, blew the dust off of it and set it to the highest cotton setting.  The instructions say, in bolded, italic capital letters ‘NO STEAM’ so I turned off the steam. For good measure, I dumped out any water that was sitting in there. No water means no steam, right? 
I picked my favorite old Gildan Zip hoody to label because it gets lots of abuse and washed often.  I tore off three labels and laid them out where I wanted them.  The instructions call for ironing between 20-30 seconds, so I wanted to see what happened if I shorted the time, then did the minimum and maximum times.
After Ironing, the labels looked good. The only visible difference between the three was where I wrote the number of seconds on each with a sharpie laundry pen.  The edges were all down firmly, the corners stuck fast.
1 Wash
After 1 wash the 20 and 30 second labels were unchanged, and the 10 second label was almost perfect, except for one corner that was juuusssst starting to lift.

5 Washes
This turned out to be the most boring experiment ever.  At 5 washes, the labels hadn’t changed. Not even the 10 second one.  It would not be possible to remove them without ruining my hoody, and if the printed names had faded at all in the wash, a close visual inspection and comparison to photos did not reveal it.

15 Washes
I’ve realized that I should have started this experiment with a new garment of some sort, instead of my favorite old hoody. 
The labels?  They appear to be unchanged from the first wash. They are still stuck hard and fast.  Little-if-any fading is evident in the printing. Just that one corner that looked like it might be a problem on the 10 second label. 
My poor hood however is starting to show serious signs of wear.  The elbows are getting thin and shiny, and the zipper is starting to pull away at the bottom.  My current estimate is that these labels will outlast my sweatshirt.

I have dealt with these labels for years, and have never had any reason to doubt their effectiveness. But I had never actually taken the time to evaluate them in this manner, either.  Given my somewhat skeptical nature, I had honestly expected the 10-second label to start to curl at the corners and loosen a bit after a couple of washes.  The fact that it seems to have bonded almost completely in 10 short seconds either means that my poor old iron is really, really hot, or that I’m the best ironer ever.
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