3 On Your Side

Consumers need a 'laundry label lesson'

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Mounds of laundry are something April Tucker faces every single day. She's a single mom of twins so there are school clothes, sports clothes,even Sunday clothes! "It's easy to get a lot of things dirty," Tucker said.

She's got to be a laundry pro, right? We gave her our laundry label quiz! (See how you do, too.)

Do you know what this clothing care symbol means? It's that circle with an "x" through it.

"I do not!" Tucker said.

How about a square with a circle in it? A triangle? Or an iron with three dots?

"Yeah, no, I'm having a hard time with the symbols," Tucker said.

We found there's a lot to decipher. There are now more than three dozen symbols that could appear on a care label. 3 On Your Side turned to fabric specialist Frances Kozen.

"It is very confusing for consumers. There are so many care symbols in existence simply because clothing is complex or home laundry is complex."

You've got different washing machines, different water temperatures, and varying agitation levels. 

Then there are high-tech dryers and even high-tech clothing! 

"Contemporary fabrics are very technical; there are a lot of performance features."

If you wash sporty moisture-wicking fabric or soft fleece the wrong way, say goodbye to what you loved about it.

And in some cases, if you don't read the tags closely, it could even be dangerous.

"It's very important that the flame retardant children's sleepwear not be used with fabric softener or bleach that will, it will, again, it will coat the fabric and will cause the fabric probably not to pass the stringent standards."

The good news is: fabric makers test for things like color fading, shrinking and wrinkling. They figure it out for you, so you just have to try to the follow directions. 

April now keeps a "cheat sheet" to help decode the codes. "I started keeping a little piece of paper with all the symbols on them."

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

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Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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