The small laundry symbols found on clothing brands are not just suggestions. They are basically your user guide for how to take care of your garment so it takes as long as possible.
Ignoring these icons can leave you with shrunk, discolored or missing clothes. Here's what the most common washing symbols mean on your clothing brand, so you can clean them effectively and safely at the laundry.
The basin icon is basically a bathtub with water in it. If you see it on the label it means that your clothing can be washed. If it is crossed, your garment cannot be washed and usually needs cleaning.
It seems simple, right? Well, a washbasin symbol can come with many extra markings, as shown in the picture above.
Let's break all these extras down:
- If there is a number inside the basin, that is, the maximum water temperature (in Celsius) that you should use to wash the item. A label that says 30 means a water temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit, 40 means 104 degrees Fahrenheit, 60 means 140 degrees Fahrenheit and 95 means 203 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Dots inside the basin also indicate temperature, with a dot for cold water, two dots for hot water and three dots for hot water.
- No lines under the pool means that you should wash the object with the normal cycle of your washing machine.
- A line below the pool means that the upholstery must be washed in the permanent press cycle.
- Two lines mean that the object should be washed on the gentle cycle.
- A hand in the pool means that you have to wash the item instead of using a washing machine.
These symbols help to decode which fabric can handle the washing process, which can destroy delicate fabric.
As with the base icon, if you see an iron symbol with the care instructions, it means you can iron the garment, while a crossed icon means you can't. Then there are variations.
Dots inside the icon tell you which heat setting to use. If you see a dot inside an iron icon, it means that you need to use a low heat setting. Two points mean that you should use a medium heat setting and three points indicate a high heat setting, usually for cotton or linen.
Lines are also important. Lines coming from the bottom of the iron icon means you can steam your clothes. Lines cross under the iron, which means that the garment cannot be steamed.
The washing symbols for drying in a dryer are a square with a circle in it, or sometimes just a circle. If you see the drying symbol crossed, do not put your clothes in the dryer. It can shrink or be damaged by the heat. Typically, it is best to let these objects air dry.
Watch your dots. A tumble dryer symbol with a center point means that the item can dry with normal heat settings. Two points mean that the object can be tumble-dried on high heat. An empty circle means that you can use any temperature setting.
Also note if the icon is inscribed or not. If you see a built-in dryer icon, it means that you need to dry the item without heat.
Many people just assume, if a garment is white, it can be bleached. Stay there, buddy. Be sure to check the label first.
An open triangle means you can go ahead and use bleach, but a triangle with lines through it (like the middle triangle above) means you should use nonchlor bleach. A triangle that is crossed means that some type of bleach is a bad idea and should be avoided.
Dry cleaning cleaning icons
A circle with a letter inside means that an object must be taken to a dry cleaning. The letter makes the dry cleaning know what kind of cleaning process your garment needs. You don't need to know what the letters mean, but you should never ignore these symbols and throw a garment in the washing machine anyway.
More laundry care tips: