Washable RFID Clothing Tags: A Step by Step Guide for Garment Inventory

Washable RFID Clothing Tags: A Step by Step Guide for Garment Inventory

Table of Contents

What are RFID clothing tags?

RFID clothing tags are small, washable tags that are embedded into clothing to track and manage inventory. They are encased in protective plastic and can be sewn into garments or attached to a hangtag. RFID tags are available in both HF and UHF frequencies and have a read range of up to 3 feet. 

The purpose of RFID clothing tags is to bring automation and theft prevention while reducing the cost and complexity of the processes involved in garment inventory management. RFID tags can be used for linen, cotton, wool, towels, uniforms, workwear, mats & mops, surgical gowns, and other garments that require tracking. They can be used for business management, inventory, and anti-counterfeiting.

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What applications of RFID technology in the clothing industry?

1. Product Tracking and Traceability

RFID technology can enhance product tracking and traceability in the clothing industry by allowing for real-time inventory accuracy across all locations, reducing packing errors, and improving consumer satisfaction. The process of tagging garments with washable RFID tags involves a partnership between the customer and various suppliers, including software, hardware, and tag suppliers. 

These tags can be matched with trims and packaging solutions to ensure a streamlined design for the brand. The RFID asset tracking system can be used in manufacturing, inventory control, warehousing, distribution, logistics, automatic object tracking, and supply chain management. This allows for the tracing and monitoring of finished garments, different pattern pieces, accessories, fabric lots, cotton bales, and yarns. By using RFID tags, the mixing of different yarn lots can be avoided, and the progress of the production process can be easily monitored. 

2. Inventory Management

In the clothing industry, RFID technology is used to manage inventory, production control, retail management, and brand segregation. Washable RFID tags are attached to clothing items which can be detected by an RFID system, allowing for real-time and efficient inventory management.

The location and movement of components, semi-finished, and finished products can be monitored, which helps with production monitoring and control. The performance of departments and individuals can be evaluated, leading to improved productivity and quality. RFID also reduces human error and helps avoid counterfeit situations. 

Companies such as CVS, Tesco, Prada, Benetten, Wal-mart, and Procter & Gamble have successfully implemented RFID technology in their supply chain management, leading to benefits such as increased efficiency and speed of processes, reduction of inventory losses, and improved information accuracy.

3. Anti-Theft Protection

RFID technology is being used in the clothing industry as an anti-theft protection measure. The RFID tags are integrated into the clothing during production and do not require a separate power source. 

The tag comprises an integrated circuit and antenna that creates an electrical field when it comes into contact with radio waves of a certain frequency. The security gates at the entrance of the store send out the radio frequency to activate the chip. If the tag is not deactivated before passing through the gates, the chip sends a message to the reader, setting off the alarm. 

4. Improved Efficiency and Productivity

RFID technology is a powerful tool for improving efficiency and productivity in the clothing industry. By using washable RFID clothing tags, inventory management can be streamlined and made much more accurate. The process begins with the tagging of each garment with an RFID tag, which can then be read by scanners throughout the supply chain. 

This allows for real-time monitoring of inventory levels, real-time location monitoring, as well as tracking of the movement of components and finished products. This data is then used to evaluate the performance of departments and individuals, which can help to improve productivity and quality. In addition to inventory management, RFID technology can also help to reduce packing errors from suppliers, avoid counterfeit situations, and provide accurate and fast access to information on item flow and supply chain lifecycle.

5. Improved Customer Experience

By attaching RFID tags to clothing items, retailers can gain valuable insights into their customers’ shopping and buying behaviors. For example, smart shelves and intelligent clothes racks equipped with RFID antennas can track which items customers interact with and for how long, providing retailers with information on which items are popular and which may need to be restocked or removed from inventory. 

Additionally, customers can use their mobile devices to scan the RFID tag on a clothing item to access information such as available sizes and colors, pricing, and discounts. This technology can also be used to create personalized shopping experiences, with sales staff able to offer tailored advice and assistance based on a customer’s purchasing history and preferences.

6. Enhanced Security and Convenience

RFID tags can be embedded in clothing to track items throughout the supply chain, from production to retail. This technology provides real-time inventory accuracy across all locations, reducing the need for recurring transportation and related CO2 emissions. RFID tags can also be used for contactless checkout and EAS, improving consumer satisfaction and reducing the need for manual tagging systems. The AD TexTrace brand label is an example of a passive RAIN RFID transponder that complies with ISO/IEC 18000-63 and the EPCglobal UHF Gen2 standard. 

Customers can scan the label with their mobile phone to access information about the product, such as available colors and sizes, price, and discounts. RFID technology provides accurate and fast access to information on item flow and supply chain lifecycle, and can even help reduce or eliminate packing errors from suppliers with automated inbound checks. 

7. Increased Product Authenticity

RFID technology can be used to increase product authenticity in the clothing industry by enabling authentication, preventing fraud, and aiding in returns, rental, and resale. For instance, permanent, washable tags can be used to prevent counterfeit situations, thereby preserving brand image and product authenticity. 

8. Improved Stock Level Accuracy

RFID technology can improve stock level accuracy in the clothing industry by providing real-time information on inventory levels and item flow. 

RFID readers can be installed at strategic points in production facilities, warehouses, stores, and fitting rooms, with a connection established between the readers and inventory management software to enable real-time updates on inventory levels and item movements. Staff can be trained on the usage of the RFID system, encompassing tagging items, reading tags, and interpreting the data. The RFID data can be utilized to optimize inventory processes, including replenishment, order fulfillment, and stock rotation. The performance of the RFID system can be monitored, and necessary adjustments can be made to enhance accuracy and efficiency.

9. Improved Cloth and Linen Supply Chain Management

To implement RFID technology for this purpose, RFID laundry tags must be sewn into each piece of fabric during production. As the fabric passes through the assembly line, an RFID reader will recognize the information in the tag and know what type of linen it is and where it needs to be sent. This frees up time for manual sorting of linen and allows cloths to be quickly sent to the next laundry process. 

To use RFID technology for inventory tracking, staff can use RFID readers to count inventory and know the fabric stock. The benefits of using RFID technology for cloth and linen supply chain management include increased accuracy and efficiency in inventory tracking, reduced labor costs, faster sales cycles, improved consumer satisfaction, and reduced need for recurring transportation and related CO2 emissions. 

10. Reduced Inventory Losses and Markdowns

RFID technology can help reduce inventory losses and markdowns in the clothing industry by accurately tracking inventory levels and movements. RFID tags can be placed on garment components, semi-finished and finished products, and cartons to monitor their location and movement throughout the supply chain. This allows for real-time inventory management and control, which can improve productivity and quality. 

In stores, RFID can be used to monitor and control floor level out-of-stocks, prevent theft from fitting rooms, and ensure accuracy in receiving goods. By implementing RFID, retailers can eliminate the need for open-box audits and reduce labor costs. Major retailers like Walmart and Marks and Spencer have successfully implemented RFID in their supply chain, leading to increased productivity, faster sales cycles, and improved consumer satisfaction. 

To summarize, here’s a view of application of RFID technology in the clothing industry:

Application Description
1. Product Tracking and Traceability
Enhances real-time inventory accuracy and traceability across all locations, reducing errors.
2. Inventory Management
Allows efficient inventory tracking, reducing human errors and enhancing control.
3. Anti-Theft Protection
Integrated into clothing for theft prevention without a separate power source.
4. Improved Efficiency and Productivity
Streamlines inventory management, monitors production, and improves quality.
5. Improved Customer Experience
Provides insights into customer behavior and personalized shopping experiences.
6. Enhanced Security and Convenience
Enables contactless checkout, reduces manual tagging, and improves consumer satisfaction.
7. Increased Product Authenticity
Aids in authentication, fraud prevention, and maintaining product authenticity.
8. Improved Stock Level Accuracy
Real-time data on inventory levels, improving replenishment and stock rotation.
9. Cloth and Linen Supply Chain Management
Streamlines linen supply chain, reducing labor costs and improving efficiency.
10. Reduced Inventory Losses and Markdowns
Accurate tracking reduces losses and markdowns, improves productivity and consumer satisfaction.

What type of garment can be tracked with RFID tags?

1. Uniforms

The benefits of using RFID tags for uniform tracking include efficient inventory management, reduction of lost or misplaced items, and improved laundry processing. To attach an RFID tag to a uniform, simply sew it onto the garment or use a heat-seal backing for non-sewable items. To read the RFID tag, use a handheld RFID reader or a fixed RFID reader installed in a laundry facility or storage area. It is important to ensure that the RFID tag is placed in a consistent location on each garment for accurate tracking.

2. Linens

RFID tags can be used to track linens in a garment inventory system by providing a unique identification number for each piece of linen. This allows staff to use RFID readers to count inventory and know the fabric stock. The laundry tags are highly flexible and can withstand high pressure and more than 50 washing cycles, making them perfect for use in hospitals and the hospitality sector. 

RFID technology ensures that all garments are cleaned before being reused by other patients or guests. Specific types of linens that can be effectively tracked with RFID tags include medical scrubs, towels, bed linens, and uniforms.

3. Towels

RFID tags can be used to track towels in order to streamline inventory management. These tags are designed to withstand high temperatures and the duress of being washed over 200 times, making them ideal for use in the hospitality and healthcare industries. 

By attaching RFID tags to towels, hotels and hospitals can easily keep track of inventory levels and ensure that towels are being properly cleaned before being used again. The system can even alert laundry companies when towels are nearing the end of their lifespan, allowing for timely replacement and maintenance.

4. Textile Rental

The tags are designed with a soft rubber casing that makes them resistant to water and detergents, and they can withstand high pressure and more than 50 washing cycles. These laundry tags are primarily used in hospitals and the hospitality sector to ensure that all garments are cleaned before being reused by other patients or guests, and they can help manage inventory, prevent theft, and reduce disputes and losses.

5. Costume Rental

These tags allow for real-time tracking of garments throughout the rental process, from initial inventory to return. The use of RFID tags in costume rental can improve accuracy and efficiency in tracking inventory, reducing the risk of lost or misplaced garments.

They can be attached to items such as hats, shoes, and jewelry, as well as larger garments like dresses, suits, and jackets. This technology can be particularly useful for tracking high-value items or items that are frequently rented, ensuring that they are always in stock and ready for rental.


Benefits of RFID Tags for Clothing

In the broader context of manufacturing, RFID tags play a crucial role. Discover how this technology integrates with manufacturing inventory management software for streamlined operations.


RFID technology and tags are proving to be a game-changer in the clothing industry, offering unparalleled benefits in inventory management, production control, and retail management. By enabling accurate tracking of garments and accessories throughout the supply chain, RFID technology helps in optimizing inventory levels, reducing labor costs, and enhancing the overall shopping experience.


In the clothing industry, there are two types of RFID tags commonly used: HF and RAIN (UHF) passive tags. HF tags are ideal for applications requiring high precision and short read ranges, such as tracking garments in a retail store. These tags are small in size and can be embedded in clothing without being noticeable. 

On the other hand, RAIN (UHF) tags are best suited for applications requiring long read ranges, such as tracking garments in a warehouse or during shipment. These tags are larger in size and can be read from a distance of several meters. 

The cost of RFID tags for clothing inventory varies depending on the volume of usage. The lowest cost tags available on the market are 7.2 cents each in volumes of 10 million units or more, while the average cost for smaller volumes is around 30-40 cents.

RFID clothing tags store data using a microchip and antenna. The microchip contains a unique identification number that is transmitted to a reader via the antenna when in range. This allows for the identification and tracing of each garment throughout the entire process, optimizing washing cycles, reducing costs and losses, and providing total control of the process.

RFID tags are durable enough to withstand washing machines. RFID Laundry Tags are designed to survive more than 200 wash cycles, and they are typically used in industrial laundry operations, hotel linens, and medical uniforms. 

These tags are made with a soft rubber outer casing that makes them resistant to water and detergents. The tags consist of a microchip and a tiny antenna that transmits data from the chip to a reader. The reader detects the tags on the linen upon release from the washing machines, and the wash cycle count gets updated in the software’s database.

RFID clothing tags can be sewn into clothing and are typically encased in protective plastic for laundry use. To address security concerns, various security measures have been proposed such as the “Kill Tag” approach, cryptographic approach, hash function approach, Faraday Cage approach, and more. 

These measures aim to prevent unauthorized access to the tag’s information and protect consumer privacy. Additionally, there are both high-frequency and UHF RFID tags available for inexpensive tracking of clothing.