Direct Answer: Clothing care labels indicate how to clean, dry, iron, and treat your clothes. Each symbol represents a different instruction, such as the maximum wash temperature or whether you can tumble dry the clothes. For instance, a bucket filled with water indicates that the item can be washed, with dots or numbers inside denoting the temperature. Similarly, a square with a circle inside means you can tumble dry the item, with dots specifying the heat level. It’s essential to understand and follow these symbols to keep your clothes in good condition.
On every item of clothing you have, the label will tell you how to care for it. Paying close attention to these labels will help you to keep your clothes well looking good, for longer.
Here is a quick guide to understanding what each symbol means, and how to care for it when washing your clothing. In this guide, we will answer the following:
What washing symbols mean?
What symbols indicate that your clothes can be washed in your washing machine?
How to check if you can tumble dry your clothes?
Washing labels on clothes
These washing symbols can help you to decide if your clothing is safe to wash in your washing machine and which setting or temperature you should use.
Drying guidelines for clothes
You can prevent your clothes from shrinking or becoming misshapen when drying by checking the symbols on the fabric care label. Here you will be able to tell what the best way to dry your clothes is, without causing any damage to your clothes.
Understanding Your Clothing Care Labels
Washing symbols tell you how to wash your clothes safely and efficiently. These symbols often look like a bucket filled with water. If your clothing is washable, this will be indicated by dots or numbers inside the bucket. Here’s how to interpret them:
- One dot means 30 °C (cold water)
- Two dots mean 40 °C (warm water)
- Four dots mean 60 °C
Lines under the bucket denote different wash cycles. One line indicates a synthetic cycle, while two lines suggest a gentle or wool wash cycle. A hand wash symbol means you should wash the item by hand at 40 °C or lower.
- Basin and water symbols indicate washing instructions.
- A cross through the basin symbol: The garment cannot be safely washed and may require dry cleaning.
- A hand in the basin symbol: The garment may only be washed by hand using warm water and detergent.
- Absence of temperature or dots: The garment may be washed with the hottest available water temperature.
- Bars beneath the basin symbol: Specific washing instructions, such as permanent press cycle or gentle cycle.
- Triangle symbols indicate whether bleach may be used on the garment.
- Plain triangle: Any bleach may be used.
- Crossed-out triangle with “CL” inside: Prohibits the use of chlorine bleach.
- Two oblique lines or crossed-out triangle with “CL” inside: Only non-chlorine color-safe bleach may be used.
- Square symbols with various instructions on how to dry or tumble dry the garment.
- Cross over the square symbol: The garment may not be wrung to dry.
- Semi-circle inside the square: The garment should be hung to dry.
- Horizontal bar inside the square: The garment should be laid out flat to dry.
- Three vertical bars inside the square: The garment should be hung to dry without shaping or smoothing it.
- Two diagonal oblique lines: The garment should be dried in the shade away from direct sunlight.
- Iron symbols provide instructions on whether the garment may be ironed and at what setting.
- Plain iron symbol: Allows ironing at any temperature.
- Crossed-out iron symbol: Prohibits ironing.
- Number of dots inside the iron symbol: Indicates the recommended ironing temperature.
Dry Cleaning Symbols:
Drying symbols guide you on the best way to dry your clothes without causing damage. Look out for a square with a circle inside – this shows you can tumble dry the item. The number of dots inside determines the heat setting:
- One dot indicates low heat
- Two dots signify medium heat
- Three dots mean high heat
If there’s no dot, you can tumble dry your clothes at any heat. Bars under the symbol specify the drying cycle. A single bar means use the “permanent press” setting, while two bars suggest the “delicate” setting.
- Circular symbols indicate dry cleaning instructions.
- Plain circle: The garment may be dry cleaned using any solvent.
- Crossed-out circle: The garment may not be dry cleaned.
- Letters inside the circle (such as “A,” “F,” or “P”): Indicate specific dry cleaning solvents.
- Bars underneath the letters: Additional instructions, such as gentle dry cleaning or specific heat settings.
Wet Cleaning Symbols:
- “W” inside a circle: Signifies that the garment may be professionally wet cleaned.
- Bars underneath the “W”: Indicate the level of gentleness required for wet cleaning.
- Crossed-out oblique circle: The garment may not be wet cleaned.
Remember to always follow the specific instructions on the care label of each garment for proper care and maintenance. Now that you have a clear understanding of these symbols, you can confidently care for your clothing, keeping them in excellent condition for longer.
Other Essential Symbols
Other useful symbols to know include a square with three vertical lines (drip dry your clothes), a single horizontal line (flat drying), and a drooping line (hang your clothes to dry). A crossed square symbol means do not tumble dry – you should let the item dry naturally.
A Few More Symbols Worth Knowing
Let’s take a quick glance at a few more symbols:
- A washing machine-like symbol with a number inside shows the maximum washing temperature.
- Bars underneath represent rinsing and spinning.
- A hand washing symbol is self-explanatory but also means you can use a hand wash cycle in your machine.
- A circle symbol indicates dry cleaning, with the letter inside guiding the dry cleaner on which chemicals to use.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a crossed-out triangle on my clothing label mean?
A crossed-out triangle prohibits the use of chlorine bleach.
What do ironing symbols on my clothing label represent?
The iron symbols give instructions on whether the garment can be ironed and at what setting. The number of dots inside the iron symbol indicates the recommended ironing temperature.
What does a “W” inside a circle on my clothing label mean?
This symbol signifies that the garment may be professionally wet cleaned.
What does a crossed-out circle on my clothing label mean?
A crossed-out circle means the garment should not be dry cleaned.
Washing and drying symbols provide crucial instructions for clothing care.
The washing symbols resemble a bucket filled with water, with dots or numbers indicating temperature.
Drying symbols look like a square with a circle inside, with