How to Read Laundry Symbols

By WeDoLaundry

Laundry labels contain a wealth of information. However, they can seem like a foreign language. Failure to follow them can result in ruining a costly, valued clothing article. The symbols sewed into each garment tell you exactly how to wash, dry, bleach, iron or dry clean the item.

Washing Symbols

It is important to get both the temperature and the wash cycle right. This prevents shrinking, wrinkling, and even damage to your clothes.

Think of the washing machine tub symbols as indicators of how to handle washing.

Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Machine wash
Hand wash
Do not wash
Dry clean only
Do not dry clean

Washing Temperature Symbols

Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Wash cold at Temperatures Between 65 & 85F
Wash warm at Temperatures of Max 105F
Wash hot at Temperatures of Max 120F

Washing Machine Cycle Symbols

Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Normal Cycle
Permanent press cycle
Delicate/gentle cycle

Machine wash your clothes if the label contains a symbol of a three-sided container with wavy lines on top. Think of this symbol as your washing machine filled with water. If your garment has this symbol, you can machine wash as normal, without any special consideration.

If the symbol has one line under it, use the permanent press wash cycle. If this symbol has two lines under it, use the gentle wash cycle. If this symbol contains one dot, wash it in cold water. If the symbol contains two dots, wash it in warm water. If the symbol contains three dots, you can wash it in hot water. If the symbol has an X through it, you should neither machine or hand wash it.

To Bleach or not to Bleach

Before you turn to your bottle of bleach on your whites, look at these fabric care symbols:

Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Bleaching allowed
Use non-chlorine bleach
Do not bleach

An empty triangle tells you it is safe use bleach. If there are diagonal lines inside the triangle, use non-chlorine bleach. A triangle crossed out tell you not to use bleach at all.

Drying Symbols

Drying is as important as washing in clothing care. Improper settings on your dryer will shrink your sweater three sizes too small. And let’s not even talk about an item that should have been air dried flat!

Know your dryer symbols. A square with a circle in the middle tells you the item may be tumble-dried. A square with a horizontal line in the middle tells you to dry the item flat. A crossed-out twisted symbol warns you not to wring the garment.

Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Tumble drying allowed
Do not tumble dry
Hang to dry
Dry flat
Do not wring

Dryer Temperature Symbols

Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Tumble dry
Low heat
Medium heat
High heat
No heat / air

Tumble Dry Laundry Symbols

Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Normal cycle
Permanent press cycle
Delicate / gentle cycle

Ironing Symbols

Today, with permanent press settings on the dryer and delicate cycle on the washer, ironing is practically unnecessary. However, if you still like crisp creases in your pants, look at clothing tags to tell you which iron temperature to use:

You may iron your garment if it contains an iron symbol. If this symbol contains one dot, iron at a low temperature. If this symbol contains two dots, iron at a medium temperature. If this symbol contains three dots, iron at a high temperature.

Some fabrics can be damaged if ironed. Some fabrics need special care when ironed.

Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Washing Symbols
Iron low
Iron medium
Iron high
Do not iron
No steam added to iron

Conclusion

When you first start doing laundry, all those symbols on the tag of your favorite sweater may seem like they are written in a foreign language. But you will quickly learn to read them so that, even after many items of washing, that sweater will look like new.

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