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How To Read Laundry Symbols

Laundry Tag Labels

How To Read Laundry Symbols

Understanding laundry care labels is integral to keeping clothing looking its best and lasting longer. These laundry tag symbols, often found inside garments, contain laundry image codes detailing how best to care for clothing – this guide can help decode them so your laundry practices are impeccable!

Nowadays, when fashion meets function, how we care for our clothing has never been more vital. Washing care labels sewn into garments are like secret codes to maintain quality and appearance. These fabric symbols provide the key to understanding fabric care needs ranging from washing and drying, ironing, and bleaching – as well as their various functions, from delicate silks to robust denim, each needing different care.

Why Laundry Symbols Matter

Laundry symbols, often called washing label symbols or cleaning symbols, provide invaluable advice about how best to wash, dry, and iron garments without harming their quality or color fastness. Ignoring them could result in faded colors, shrinkage, or even the complete ruination of your favorite garments, so understanding these wash and fold laundry symbols on clothes’ tags is imperative for optimal garment care.

washing label symbols

Decoding Wash label Symbols

wash label symbols found on clothing are one of the most identifiable laundry symbols, with their iconic tub-shaped icons providing instructions regarding water temperature, cycle type, and whether machine washing should even take place. A single dot in each tub icon denotes cold washing, while multiple dots indicate higher temperatures or special cycles like permanent press or delicate. A tub featuring hands to indicate handwashing while an “X” over its lid indicates it should not be machine washed.

Universal Wash Symbols

Washing label symbols tend to be universal. That way, regardless of where one travels or shops for goods from an international brand or travels frequently for work purposes, consumers won’t become confused by unfamiliar symbols on labels that don’t intuitively convey instructions. Universal wash label symbols make purchasing international brands and traveling easier!

Laundry Clothes Tag Washing Symbols

  • Normal: The normal symbol, usually shown by a tub or basin icon, indicates that garments can be washed under normal circumstances using standard washing machine cycles with set spin speeds and water temperatures as stated on their labels.
  • Permanent Press: Depicted as a tub with one line below it, the permanent press is a symbol to indicate gentler washing practices. Incorporating mild wash cycles and reduced spin speeds into these washing machine settings ensures wrinkle reduction while protecting garments that may otherwise crease under strain.
  • Gentle or Delicate: For items more likely to become damaged during washing, such as silk or lace fabrics that could easily fray during the cycle, the gentle setting features a more gentle washing cycle with slower spin speeds to safeguard their fabric from being destroyed by frictional force during spin cycles. This setting should always be selected first as it offers optimal fabric care during its process.
  • Water Temperature: Depicted water temperature symbols represent the maximum washing temperature recommended for garments – 30°, 40°, 60°, and 90°.
  • Hand Wash: Representing this choice by the hand of the wash tub. This method should be chosen when washing delicate fabrics or garments that contain intricate embellishments that could become damaged in a washing machine. Often, this recommendation applies only to more fragile fabrics or garments featuring intricate embellishments that may otherwise become damaged during machine washes.
  • Do Not Wash: An “X” through a tub indicates that an item should not be submerged in water for washing, often signifying that its material may not withstand conventional detergent washing processes and could become damaged in any form of washing. Dry or spot cleaning might be recommended instead for garments that could withstand washing in water.

Dry Cleaning Symbols

Dry Clean Symbols

  • Any Solvent: This symbol depicting a circular shape with the letter “A” signifies that garments can be dry-cleaned using any solvent without damage to the fabric, providing maximum flexibility when choosing dry-cleaning methods.
  • Any Solvent Except Trichloroethylene: Shown as a circle with the letter ‘P,’ this symbol advises all solvents can be used for dry cleaning except Trichloroethylene as this chemical may damage certain fabrics more severely. Thus, its exclusion is essential in taking good care in maintaining these garments.
  • Petroleum Solvent Only: As indicated by its symbol – a circle with an F inside it – only petroleum-based solvents should be used during dry-cleaning. These gentler solutions may be required when treating certain delicate fabrics.
  • Short Cycle Dry Cleaning: When looking at dry cleaning, a circle with a hash line to the lower left outer side means short-cycle dry cleaning only. Short-cycle dry cleaning indicates less thorough processes that help preserve delicate fabrics or embellishments. This could include quick, gentle methods or quicker dry cycles that do not disrupt fabric patterns as much.
  • Reduced Moisture: Depicted as a circle with a hash mark to the upper left outer side, this symbol indicates that the dry cleaning process should use reduced levels of moisture than usual for materials that are susceptible to water or retain it, potentially leading to damage or shape loss from overexposure of moisture. It should be particularly used with materials that absorb or retain it, leading to potential shape or material distortion from prolonged contact with moisture – important considerations in materials like leather that could otherwise absorb and hold onto excess water content and eventually result in its damage or shape loss over time.
  • Low Heat: Fabrics that excessively high temperatures may damage must be handled carefully to preserve quality and appearance, so using lower temperatures for dry cleaning is critical for protecting their quality and appearance. A circle with a hash mark to the lower right outer side indicates this concept.
  • No Steam: This symbol, displayed as a circle with a hashtag to the upper right out edge, advises against using steam in dry-cleaning processes. Some fabrics can be damaged by steam, which signifies the importance of choosing an alternative cleaning approach without steam.
  • Do Not Dry Clean: Depicted by an “X” inside a circle, inside a square. This symbol effectively indicates that certain garments should not undergo dry-cleaning processes and solvents; such an approach could damage delicate materials that require special consideration during dry-cleaning processes. When this symbol is present on clothing made of such materials, alternative cleaning solutions should be explored per manufacturer instructions.

Breakdown of Drying Symbols

As with wash label symbols, dryer tag symbols for drying can be crucially understood. They indicate whether to air or tumble dry and at what temperature; squares with circles indicate tumble drying, while simple squares suggest air drying; dots inside these symbols represent temperature levels, while specific lines underneath signify special drying cycles.


Tumble Dry Labels

  • Normal: Depicted by a square with an inner circle, this symbol indicates that garments may be tumble dried using normal, high heat settings without fear of damaging fabrics that can withstand higher temperatures without detachment. It should only be used on robust fabrics which can withstand higher temperatures without damage to them.
  • Low Heat Tumble Dry Setting: The low heat symbol (a square with an inner circle and one dot in its center) signifies that an item should be tumble-dried at low heat settings to minimize potential fabric damage during drying. It is ideal for delicate fabrics needing additional care during their tumble dryer cycle to protect their delicate fibers and surfaces from being overexposed to heat.
  • Medium Heat: Similar to its low heat equivalent, this symbol features two dots to indicate medium heat settings for drying fabrics that can tolerate moderate temperatures without adverse side effects.
  • High Heat Tumble Dry: When indicated with the symbol, it is depicted as a square with three dots inside of it and three circles surrounding it. This symbol indicates that the garment can be tumble dried at high heat settings without shrinkage or damage to fabric fibers. These durable materials should withstand such high temperatures without experiencing shrinking.
  • No Heat: This symbol depicting a square with an enclosed circle and line signifies that the garment should be tumble dried with air only, without heat exchangers being activated during its drying cycle. It’s ideal for heat-sensitive materials that need air drying but still require tumble cycles for tumble cycles.
  • Permanent Press: As represented by a square with an inside circle and one line beneath, this symbol indicates an item should be dried using permanent press settings to help reduce wrinkles and creasing on fabric that tends to get wrinkled easily. Medium heat setting helps mitigate such concerns for optimal results.
  • Gentle or Delicate Wash Cycle: Depicted as a square with an inner circle and two lines at either end, this setting indicates gentle or delicate wash cycles – perfect for fabrics more susceptible to damage that need lower heat settings and gentler tumble cycles.
  • Do Not Tumble Dry: Clothing that bears this symbol should never be tumble dried as this could potentially damage it and is best dried via air drying for safety and peace of mind.

Laundry Tag Dry Symbols

  • Line Dry: Representing an article hanging to dry from a clothesline, the line dry symbol indicates that garments should be placed on one. This method works particularly well when items may stretch when wet; air drying helps ensure their shape remains unaltered during air drying processes.
  • Drip Dry: Representing three vertical lines inside, this symbol indicates that items should be hung up and allowed to drip dry instead of being laid flat or line dried; typically recommended for garments that might lose shape if laid out flat, therefore providing the opportunity for their natural shape and form to remain intact during the drying process.
  • Dry Flat: Depicted as a square with one horizontal line in its middle, this symbol signifies that garments should be laid flat to dry on an even surface, such as a drying rack, for optimal results. Doing this helps preserve knitwear or delicate items that might stretch if hung.
  • Dry in Shade: When air drying garments that contain colors that could fade over time or fabrics that might be damaged by direct sunlight, shade should always be sought as protection from its damaging rays. A square with diagonal lines at either corner signifies this directive to air-dry as much of your load as possible before taking steps such as air drying with ventilation to provide shade. This provides both air drying benefits while simultaneously shielding against harsh UV rays from direct sunlight rays.
  • Do Not Wring: Represented as wringing fabric with a cross inside it that represents “don’t wring,” this symbol advises against wringing your garment out to remove excess water. Wringing can stretch and distort fabrics; therefore, excess liquid should be gently squeezed out without twisting your clothing.
  • Do Not Dry: An item marked by an open square with a cross indicates it should not be dried with conventional drying methods such as a tumble dryer or air drying, often for delicate materials that would be damaged by any form of drying such as a tumble dryer or air. In these instances, manufacturers might suggest specific drying instructions as an alternative solution.

Ironing Symbols

Ironing symbols are simple. Their icon represents an iron, with dots inside to indicate the temperature setting on your iron. A crossed-out iron means do not iron, and crossed-out steam symbols advise against its usage.

Ironing Laundry Labels

  • Steam or Dry: The simple iron icon symbolizes this setting as an indication that garments can be ironed at any temperature with or without steam, offering maximum flexibility when ironing various types of fabrics ranging from sturdy cotton to resilient synthetics. This setting works best in setting ironing settings.
  • High: Depicted as iron with three dots inside, this symbol indicates that garments may be ironed at higher temperatures (typically 200°C/392°F). This setting is most appropriate for linen and cotton fabrics, which can withstand higher heat without becoming damaged during ironing.
  • Medium: Represented by an iron with two dots, this symbol indicates ironing at a medium temperature (approximately 150°C/302°F). This setting is appropriate for materials like wool and polyester, which require moderately hot iron temperatures for effective crease removal.
  • Low: An iron icon with one dot indicates that clothing should be ironed at low temperature (around 110°C or 230°F). This setting is best for delicate materials like silk, rayon, and acetate, which higher temperatures may damage.
  • Do Not Steam: Depicted as an iron with crossed-out steam lines, this symbol denotes against using steam during ironing. Some fabrics can become damaged from exposure to moisture during steam ironing sessions; therefore, dry ironing should be employed when ironing them instead.
  • Do Not Iron: An iron-bearing cross symbol should be an alert that direct heat is inappropriate when ironing fabric-based items that could melt, deform, or become damaged from direct heat exposure. Instead, alternative forms of creasing removal include steaming (if allowed) or hanging in a steamy bathroom.

Universal Bleach Symbols

Bleaching symbols play an integral role. Commonly displayed as triangles, their purpose can range from permitting bleaching activities to forbidding it entirely – plain triangles signifying allowable bleaching; crossed-out triangles signify prohibited use, while triangles with diagonal lines suggest only using non-chlorine bleach.

Bleach Laundry Tag Labels

  • Any Bleach: This symbol indicates that any type of bleach may be applied to clothing without risk to its fabric, which means both chlorine and non-chlorine bleach can be safely utilized on it without damage being sustained by it. Typically, this symbol can be seen on white items with high colorfast properties that can withstand strong bleaching agents without incurring irreparable fading damage from repeated bleach applications.
  • Non-Chlorine Bleach Only: When in doubt, only non-chlorine bleach should be used when necessary. This symbol indicates this fact, depicted by a triangle with two diagonal lines inside. Non-chlorine bleach is gentler than chlorine bleach and is required when treating some fabrics, such as colored fabrics and more delicate materials that might be damaged with harsher bleaches. Be wary when encountering such warning symbols!
  • Do Not Bleach: Symbolized by a solid triangle with a cross through it, this symbol warns of using any type of bleach for fabric that bleach can damage. This guideline helps preserve color and integrity while considering alternative stain removal solutions that work more effectively on garments bearing this sign.

Tips for Reading cleaning Symbols

Take Your Time: When acquiring new clothes, familiarize yourself with laundry symbols/care instructions on clothes.

Referring to a Guide: When in doubt, keep a guide or chart with universal laundry symbols nearby in your laundry area.

Check Clothing Tags Before Washing: Before throwing clothes in the wash, always double-check their symbols to prevent accidents and extend their lifespan. By checking before handing it over for washing, mishaps may be avoided, and the garment lifespan may be extended significantly.

Acquaint Yourself With the Basics: Acquaint yourself with some basic laundry symbols – wash, dry, iron, and bleach. This should meet most of your laundry needs.

When In Doubt, Err on the Side of Caution: When doubting an image on clothing tag symbols, always err on the side of caution by using cold water, gentle cycles, and air drying if available.

Labels for Various Fabric Types

With various fabric types, such as silk or denim, needing different attention than others requiring specific care – these universal clothing care symbols serve as a universal language of clothing care. By understanding and following these laundry signs on clothes instructions, not only are we prolonging the lifespan of our clothes, but we’re contributing towards sustainable living by decreasing wear-and-tear and wastage. This guide offers knowledge that will equip you to read labels confidently so your garments remain pristine for longer!

Laundry Tag Care Label Conclusion

Laundry care labels may seem confusing at first, but their purpose is clear – to help you properly care for your clothes most effectively. Understanding their symbols, from clothes-washing, and laundry symbols to cleaning symbols, is an integral skill to keep wardrobe items pristine for as long as possible! By following these guidelines and following them exactly, you will avoid common laundry errors while keeping garments looking brand new for longer – knowledge truly is power when it comes to laundry care. A little knowledge can go a long way!

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