Proper care of your clothes helps them look great and last longer. But the laundry care symbols on your clothing label can look more like hieroglyphics than instructions! Use this guide to help decipher the meaning of common laundry symbols and take great care of your clothes.
Once you get the basics, you'll be a pro at reading clothing care symbols wherever they are found.
The first set of symbols on a clothing care label refer to how to wash the item. Look for a pictogram that looks like a washing tub. Inside the tub are picture instructions for what to do.
The second set of symbols that can appear inside the washing tub refer to temperature. The number of dots inside the tub symbol increase the hotter the temperature:
The third set of symbols that accompany the washing tub refer to the cycle or wash setting on your washing machine. These are shown by the number of lines under the washing tub symbol.
Following the washing symbols are pictograms to show you how to dry the item. The basic symbol for tumble dry in your dryer is a square with a circle inside.
Knowing what the washing symbols mean on the label of your laundry items will help maintain them as intended.
Like the temperature setting dots for the washer symbols, the number of dots inside the tumble dry circle indicates what temperature is best for drying this item:
Underneath the tumble dry symbol are lines to indicate which dryer cycle or setting to use. They are consistent with the lines used on the washing symbols:
If you're considering using bleach on an item, look for the triangle symbol on the clothing care label. Recognizing the “do not bleach” symbol will keep you from potentially permanently damaging your clothes by using chlorine bleach.
If you're wondering whether it is safe to iron a garment, look for the ironing symbol on the label. Many garments look great freshly pressed while others can become damaged from the heat. The pictogram looks like an iron.
As with the washing and drying symbols, the number of dots inside the iron symbol indicates the temperature.
Dry cleaning is noted on the item’s care label by an open circle. If there is a letter inside of the circle, that provides further instructions to the dry cleaning service. You only need to worry about two symbols for this type of care.
An item that is dry clean only will usually have the “do not wash” crossed-out washing tub symbol, followed by the open circle dry clean symbol.
Now that you understand what all of the various laundry symbols on your care labels mean, you can be a pro at following the instructions and taking the best care of your clothes as possible. When you wash and dry your garments according to the clothing care symbols, you'll reduce your chances of shrinking, misshaping, damaging, fading or pilling your clothes.
To take the best care of your belongings, always follow the instructions on an item’s label and choose laundry detergent products designed to help properly maintain your clothes.