When a person goes to live at a nursing home, it’s because they need help taking care of themselves. Doing their laundry is part of the deal. At most nursing homes, the housekeeping staff members are responsible for washing the resident’s laundry. Usually without any problems.
But, sometimes, clothes disappear. Or, another nursing home resident claims that particular robe is theirs. So, to protect yourself or your loved one, here is a guide to the best ways to label clothes for nursing homes.
What Are The Best Ways To Label Clothing In A Nursing Home?
In order to keep an elderly person’s clothing (and even other personal belongings) from being mixed up with others, you should have all of their clothing permanently labeled.
That way, it should always get back to them if their clothing is washed with other people’s laundry or gets misplaced somewhere.
Of course, these same methods can be used in an assisted living facility, rest home, care homes and other elder care facilities.
Here are ways that people can use to permanently label clothing:
1. Use a Fabric Marker – Cheap and Effective (but Messy)
- Easy to Do
- Ink May Bleed Through
- Looks Cheap
The best and most inexpensive way to label clothing is with a Sharpie. The person’s name should be on the inside seam or tag of the clothing.
This needs to be done carefully so that the Sharpie mark does not bleed because it will stain wherever it goes on the clothing. It is permanent and it will last through all washing cycles.
Should you use a colorful fabric marker? Honestly, black is best except on black clothing.
2. Stick-On Fabric Labels – Simple (But Eventually Wears Out)
- Relatively Inexpensive
- Easy to Use
- Available Blank or Pre-Printed
- May Eventually Come Off
- Requires Permanent Ink
Some people like to use stick-on fabric labels. These may come off after multiple washes but they are inexpensive and they work well. The peel-and-stick labels are another way that people label their clothes for nursing homes.
These types of labels are easy to use, do not cost very much, and are the most popular labels for clothing.
They are simple for many people to use and the person in the nursing home may be able to use them too. You can buy plain labels and write on them yourself or get them pre-printed.
3. Iron-On Labels – Permanent (But Requires Some Work)
Iron-on labels work very well. A person will need to iron them on but they will not come off in the wash. If they ever have to be removed, it can be a difficult process to do so without damaging the clothing though. You can write on iron labels yourself or buy them already printed.
- Relatively Inexpensive
- More Permanent than Self-Stick
- Available Blank or Pre-Printed
- Looks Good
- Requires Work to Iron Them On
4. Ink Stamps – Easy and Permanent Option
Many people like the ink stamp method for labeling their clothing. They order the stamp and it is permanent.
They will also need to have a supply of ink on hand to complete this type of labeling. Since it’s easy to do, people find it is one of the methods that is the least time-consuming.
- Easy to Do
- Label Lots of Clothes Quickly
- Permanent Option
- Looks Better than Markers
- More Expensive Option
- Requires Pre-planning to Order in Advance
5. Mesh Laundry Bags – Quick and Easy (But Less Secure)
People are also using mesh bags that are labeled with the resident’s name. Usually with this method, the laundry is washed in batches. This means that every resident’s laundry is washed and dried separately from other residents.
Some places wash the laundry labels in the bag itself so that more laundry can be processed without mixing it up. The drawback though is that pieces of clothing could still get lost if they aren’t also individually labeled.
6. Sew-In Labels (A Great Option That Is Easy to Remove)
Sew-in labels are adhesive tags that are sewn into the fabric of a garment. They are usually attached in the neckline but can be sewn onto the garment anywhere really.
They provide accurate and consistent labeling for multiple garments and they are easy to remove if needed – just snip a few stitches and remove them. Plus you can get pre-made name tags with the name already permanently printed on them.
The drawbacks of sew-in labels are that they can be the most expensive way to label clothing, and they may not be visible from a distance. Also, you’ll need access to a sewing machine or someone who can use a needle or thread to attach the labels.
And, because they can be removed easily, someone with malicious intent could remove them.
7. Plastic Tags (A Possible But Unlikely Solution)
While this is an option, I’m not a big fan of it because it has more negatives than positives. First, you’ll have to put a hole in the clothing to attach the tags. You can use a pricing gun like at a retail store to attach them to the care tag, but it’s still a hole in the clothing.
Also, who wants to wear clothing with a plastic tag poking at your skin, right? Have you ever put on a shirt that still has a price tag on it?
The positives are that you can make your own label and that the tag will be easy to spot from a distance, but, personally, I’m not a fan. They might be acceptable as shoe labels maybe?
Remember, Nursing Homes Take Care Of People Not Stuff
Inside a nursing home, an elderly person with dementia or Alzheimer’s will be taken care of well. They will have their meals made for them, help with daily activities, and a lot more.
The nursing home will do their washing if it is needed but it is up to the person or their family to label their clothing well so that it doesn’t get mixed up with anyone else’s clothing.
If you let them wash the laundry for your loved one, make sure there isn’t any clothing at the home that requires dry cleaning. The care staff probably doesn’t have the time to read each care label or tag.
Also, be sure to label any bed linens or blankets you brought to the nursing home. These items are easily lost when bed linens are changed and laundered.
If this is a major concern, I recommend not bringing irreplaceable clothing or dry cleaning only items to the nursing home with the patient. Another option would be to take it home and wash it or set up a rotating schedule with other family members so that one person doesn’t do it all.
Frequently Asked Questions About Marking Clothes For Nursing Homes
After initially writing this post, I have been asked the following questions:
1. Why Should You Label A Nursing Home Resident’s Clothing?
Nursing homes are busy places and when they are washing your loved one’s clothing it is easy for it to get lost, misplaced, or mixed up with other resident’s clothing.
This seems to happen to the new residents for some reason. Maybe because the laundry staff isn’t familiar with their belongings yet.
Also, the nursing home may have residents with dementia who may innocently take things that do not belong to them. Labeling your loved one’s clothing and other personal items helps them get found if it seems to disappear.
2. Do Nursing Homes Wash Your Clothes?
Nursing homes often have laundry facilities that residents can use. There is no standard policy on this matter and each nursing home may have its own policy.
Some nursing homes may wash residents’ clothes, while others may not. Be sure to ask this important question when comparing nursing homes.
When a nursing home will wash a resident’s clothing, they often use commercial washers which are harsher on clothing than your home washer.
This is why some family members take clothing home to wash it or use a private laundry service. And why the family must accept the risk of loss when the nursing home does provide this service.
3. Where Should You Put A Clothing Label?
There are a few places on your clothing where you should place the label. Generally, you want to place the label on the inside of your garment, just below the chest line. Another place is on the back of your neck, near your hairline, but this may bother some people.
The seam where your shirt meets your pants should also be marked with a label. Another good place is to attach it to the care label where the care instructions are located or an existing tag inside the clothing.
Because of privacy laws, no resident’s name should be on the outside of a garment where it can be seen by others.
4. Can Sharpies Be Used As Laundry Markers?
Yes, Sharpies can be used as laundry markers. The maker of Sharpies even offers a special Rub a Dub marker for permanently marking clothing. You can see those at Amazon by clicking here.
5. Will Sharpie Come Out Of Clothing In The Washer?
Sharpies typically stain clothing and never go away completely. To try to clean permanent marker writing from your clothing, treat the area with a spot remover or ammonia-based detergent. Once you have removed most of the stain, place the garment into the washing machine.
6. How Do You Get Ink To Stay On Fabric?
To write on fabric using a pen, you should really use a fabric pen with a special tip for writing on clothing. Then, let the ink dry thoroughly and keep the fabric from sources of moisture like rain or sweat. You can also “set” the ink in the fabric by heating it up with an iron.
7. Which Is Better Fabric Paint Or Markers?
There are pros and cons to both fabric paint and markers. Fabric paint is less expensive, but markers can be more versatile. For example, markers can be used on a variety of surfaces, whereas fabric paint is limited to fabrics.
Additionally, markers dry quickly whereas fabric paint may take longer to dry. It is also easier to make a cleaner, neater mark with a marker than with paint.
8. How Do I Get A Nursing Home Label Off My Clothes?
There are a few ways to remove a nursing home label from your clothing.
The first way is to wet the label with a wet cloth then apply a commercial stripper to the wet cloth. Next, apply pressure to the cloth rubbing the label. Once the label starts to loosen up, begin peeling it away at the corner.
The next way is to put the item on an ironing board and cover it with some parchment paper. Then, take a hot iron and heat up the label in a circular motion which should loosen the adhesive on the back. Once it gets loose, use tweezers or a fingernail to peel it off.
9. What Should You Put On The Label?
The critical item is the nursing home resident’s name. Some nursing homes may have restrictions about this due to privacy laws.
If so, you can use their initials or their first initial and last name. Should you put their room number on the label? Not if the tag is permanent. Sometimes patients change rooms so their room number may change. So you’d have to make new labels if that happens.
So, what do you think is the best way to label clothes for nursing home residents? Do you have other ways to label clothes for nursing home patients? Please tell me about them in the comments below!