The requirements are published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in Title 16, Part 1610 (16 CFR part 1610), the Standard for the Flammability of Clothing Textiles. This standard is also commonly referred to as the General Wearing Apparel Standard.
Please also see our helpful educational video on the CPSC YouTube Channel here: CPSC Business Education | Flammability of Clothing Textiles (16 CFR part 1610) - YouTube.
The purpose of this regulation is to keep dangerously flammable textiles and garments out of commerce. The standard provides methods of testing the flammability of clothing and textiles intended to be used for clothing by classifying fabrics into three classes of flammability based on their speed of burning. This standard specifies that Class 3 textiles, the most dangerously flammable fabrics, are unsuitable and prohibited for use in clothing because of their rapid and intense burning.
What types of wearing apparel are subject to the flammability standard?
16 CFR part 1610 applies to all wearing apparel, except the following items listed under 16 CFR § 1610.1(c):
- Hats that do not cover the neck, face, or shoulders;
- Gloves that are 14 inches in length or shorter and are not attached to a garment;
- Footwear that does not consist, in whole or in part, of hosiery and is not attached to a garment; and,
- Interlining fabrics when they are intended or sold for use as a layer between an outer shell and an inner lining.
16 CFR part 1610 also applies to children’s sleepwear garments that meet the definition of either “infant garments” or “tight-fitting garments.” Children’s sleepwear that does not meet either definition is subject to requirements for sleepwear under 16 CFR part 1615 (Standard for the Flammability of Children’s Sleepwear: Sizes 0 through 6X) or 16 CFR part 1616 (Standard for the Flammability of Children’s Sleepwear: Sizes 7 through 14). The criteria to be defined as an “infant garment” or “tight-fitting garment” are based on sizing and measurement guidelines. See 16 CFR §§ 1615.1 or 1616.2 for more information.
Are there any fabrics that are exempt from flammability testing?
Yes, years of flammability testing has shown that certain fabrics consistently yield acceptable results. Under 16 CFR § 1610.1(d), the following fabrics are exempt from testing requirements under the flammability standard:
- Plain surface fabrics weighing 2.6 ounces per square yard or more (88.2 grams per square meter), regardless of fiber content; and
- Plain and raised surface fabrics made of: acrylic, modacrylic, nylon, olefin, polyester, wool, or any combination of these fibers, regardless of weight.
A plain surface fabric is any textile fabric that does not have an intentionally raised fiber or yarn surface, such as a pile, nap, or tuft. Common examples of plain surface fabrics typically include oxford, chambray, jersey cotton, and stretch knit.
However, the manufacturing process determines whether it is a plain or raised surface fabric, so these fabrics may not always be plain surface.
A raised surface fabric is any textile fabric that has an intentionally raised fiber or yarn surface, such as a pile, nap, or tuft. Whether the product has an intentionally raised surface is determined by the manufacturing process. An example of a manufacturing process that intentionally raises the fibers would be the fabric going through an agitator that cuts and brushes the fibers on the top surface.
Common examples of raised surface fabrics include terry cloth, fleece, corduroy, and flannel.
However, the manufacturing process determines whether it is a plain or raised surface fabric, so these fabrics may not always be raised surface.
An “uncovered” or “exposed” part is defined as a part of wearing apparel that might be open to flame or other means of ignition during normal wear. The outer surface of an undergarment is considered to be “uncovered” or “exposed.”
Examples of uncovered or exposed parts of wearing apparel include:
- linings with exposed areas, such as full-front zippered jackets,
- sweatshirts with exposed raised fiber surfaces on the inside that are marketed and intended to be worn reversibly,
- unlined hoods, and
- rolled cuffs.
For garments with exposed linings, both the exposed inside lining and outside fabric need to be tested, unless they meet an exemption. The exemptions do not apply if only the outside fabric meets an exemption. For example, if you have a plain surface fabric that meets an exemption on the outside, but you have an exposed raised surface fabric lining that does not meet an exemption, then you will need to test the exposed lining.
The inner fabric on garments that are intended or advertised to be reversible are considered exposed parts and must be tested on both sides of the garment if it does not meet a specific exemption. Examples include sweatshirts that can be worn with the napped side out and socks with rolled cuffs.
16 CFR § 1610.4 specifies testing procedures to determine the flammability of textiles used in apparel as one of three classes of flammability. Specimens cut into 2-inch by 6-inch swatches must be tested to determine the class and hazard rating.
Class 1 textiles are plain surface and raised surface fabrics that exhibit normal flammability and are acceptable for use in wearing apparel.
Class 2 textiles are raised surface fabrics that exhibit intermediate flammability and should be used with caution for wearing apparel. This class is not applicable to plain surface fabrics.
Class 3 textiles are plain surface and raised surface fabrics that are dangerously flammable and shall not be used in wearing apparel. If a firm becomes aware that a product they manufacture violates any applicable mandatory requirements, they are obligated to report under Section 15(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA). Reports can be made electronically at www.saferproducts.gov.
Adult wearing apparel is required to have a General Certificate of Conformity, also known as a GCC. Manufacturers and importers of general-use products for which consumer product safety rules apply, such as adult wearing apparel, must certify, in a written GCC, based on testing or a reasonable testing program, that the products comply with 16 CFR part 1610.
However, the Commission has issued a statement of policy on enforcement discretion related to adult apparel and GCCs. The CPSC will not pursue compliance or enforcement actions against firms that fail to issue a GCC for adult wearing apparel that is exempt from testing pursuant to § 1610.1(d). Adult and general use wearing apparel that are not exempt from flammability testing will need to have a GCC.
Adult wearing apparel does not need to be tested at a third party, CPSC-accepted lab.
Children’s wearing apparel that is subject to 16 CFR part 1610 includes general wearing apparel and children’s sleepwear that meets the definition of “infant garment” or “tight-fitting,” as described in 16 CFR parts 1615 or 1616. Children’s sleepwear that does not meet either definition is subject to requirements for sleepwear under 16 CFR part 1615 (Standard for the Flammability of Children’s Sleepwear: Sizes 0 through 6X) or 16 CFR part 1616 (Standard for the Flammability of Children’s Sleepwear: Sizes 7 through 14).
Children’s products are also subject to the total lead content requirements of 15 U.S.C. § 1278a. Generally, all accessible components of a children’s product must be tested to demonstrate compliance with the lead content limit of 100 parts per million (ppm). The Commission issued determinations for certain materials under 16 CFR § 1500.91, including dyed and undyed textiles that are not treated or adulterated, which means such materials do not need to be tested for total lead content. Any metal or plastic components, such as buttons, snaps, or zippers, must be tested. For more information, click here.
Painted component parts, such as buttons, are subject to lead in paint requirements under 16 CFR part 1303. Such paints or similar surface coatings must not contain a concentration of lead greater than 90 ppm. Additionally, any screen-printing inks used on the garments are also subject to lead in paint requirements. For more information, click here.
Certain types of children’s clothing or wearing apparel, such as bibs and sleepwear garments, are considered child care articles that facilitate sleeping, feeding, sucking, or teething in children ages 3 and younger. Such products are subject to the ban on specified phthalates codified at 16 CFR part 1307. For more information, click here.
Testing that needs to be conducted on children’s wearing apparel must be performed at a third-party, CPSC-accepted laboratory. The measurements for determining tight-fitting sleepwear as defined in parts 1615 and 1616 do not need to be assessed by a third-party, CPSC-accepted laboratory. If you are a qualifying small batch manufacturer, you may be eligible for relief from third-party testing to certain safety rules. Click here for more information about how to qualify and register as a small batch manufacturer.
After manufacturers and importers of children’s wearing apparel have received applicable passing test results for their products, and gathered any additional compliance documentation, they must issue a Children’s Product Certificate, also known as a CPC. To learn about how to create a CPC, please watch CPSC’s 3-Part Education Series for CPCs:
- CPSC Education Series: Children’s Product Certificates (CPC) Part 1
This first video in the series provides an overview of CPCs and covers the types of information needed to produce a CPC: CPSC Business Education | Children’s Product Certificate CPC Part 1 - YouTube.
- CPSC Education Series: Children’s Product Certificates (CPC) Part 2
The second video in the series walks the viewer through three fictitious CPC examples to teach you how to create your own CPC: CPSC Business Education | How to Create a CPC Part 2 - YouTube.
- CPSC Education Series: Children’s Product Certificates (CPC) Part 3
The third video in the series covers various frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding CPCs: CPSC Business Education I CPC FAQs Part 3 - YouTube.
Children’s products and their packaging are required to have tracking labels. A tracking label is a distinguishing permanent mark that is affixed to the product and its packaging, to the extent practicable, and provides certain identifying information that is ascertainable, including the manufacturer, importer, and/or private labeler, date and location of production, and batch code or cohort information that helps identify the specific source of the product. To learn more about the tracking label requirement, please watch CPSC’s tracking label requirement video:
CPSC Business Education I Tracking Label Requirement - YouTube
Apparel may be subject to additional regulatory requirements by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and, for imported goods, by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP).
A few helpful documents on these requirements can be found at:
- FTC: Threading Your Way Through the Labeling Requirements Under the Textile and Wool Acts (Registered Identification Numbers)
- FTC: Clothes Captioning – Complying with the Care Labeling Rule
- CBP: What Every Member of the Trade Community Should Know About Textile & Apparel Rules of Origin
- CBP: Basic Importing and Exporting
Please contact those agencies with any questions you may have on their requirements.