Hand Wash, Machine Wash, or Dry Clean

Are you at a loss for words when it comes to reading the care label on the inside of your favorite sweater or shirt? Does it sometimes feel like you are trying to understand a foreign language? It can be a catastrophe if you don’t read an item of clothing’s washing instructions correctly.

Tips to Remember

  • After a new clothes purchase, be sure to consult the wash care label before placing in the washing machine. They often contain washing instructions that work best for that material.
  • If you use bleach in your wash- always check the garment’s care label beforehand.
  • Stick to using the appropriate wash setting and use a good quality laundry detergent to help prevent laundry disasters.

You or someone you know might have had the unfortunate experience of taking a new shirt or dress out of the washing machine, only to find it has shrunk to half its original size. These problems can be avoided by following the below guidelines to understanding washing instructions symbols – which will help you maintain your clothes and keep them in perfect condition.

Care label pictograms provide helpful information that can save you time and money. They’re an important part of ensuring that your garment is treated properly when laundering, ironing or drying- to prolong the clothing life. While the labels are meant to be straightforward, they’re not always easy to understand.

Washing Symbols

The most common washing symbol is the bucket filled with water.

  • This indicates what temperature or machine setting you should use to wash your clothing item.
  • You may find a bucket symbol with a dot or dots in the middle. This means the clothing must not exceed its indicated washing temperature. Inside the wash symbol, there will either be a temperature value or 1 to 6 dots that signifying temperature ranges.

One dot = 30 C

Two dots = 40 C

Three dots = 50 C

Four dots = 60 C

Five dots = 70 C

Six dots = 95 C

The hand inside the bucket symbol means the clothing should be hand washed not in your washing machine. The Do Not Wash symbol is the wash symbol with an X through it. If the label instructs you not to wash the item, it will have to be dry cleaned.

Bleach Washing Symbols

The triangle symbol indicates if a bleach product can you used.

  • A triangle without anything in the middle means that any kind of bleach can be used on the clothing when needed.
  • A triangle filled with diagonal lines means that only non-chlorine bleaches should be used. Check the ingredients on your bleach to see if it contains chlorine.
  • A solid black triangle with crossed lines means ‘do not bleach’ – you should not attempt to use any kind of bleach on this garment.

Tumble Drying Cleaning Symbols

The tumble dryer symbol is a square with a circle in the middle of it.

  • As with the washing symbols, the number of dots inside the circle will tell you the heat setting you should put your tumble dryer on to, as well as any specific program settings required.
  • Three dots mean Tumble Dry High, two dots mean Tumble Dry Medium and one dot means Tumble Dry Low.

Ironing Symbols

The ironing symbol is shaped like an old-fashioned iron. Ironing symbols also employ the same dot system for heat levels, which should be adjustable on your iron.

  • Three dots mean that the item can be ironed on high.
  • Two dots mean that it can be ironed on medium.
  • One dot means that it can be ironed on low.
  • A crossed out iron means you should not iron the garment.

Dry Cleaning Washing Symbols

The dry cleaning symbol is a circle.

  • A crossed-out circle means that you should not dry-clean the item.
  • For clothes that are dry clean only, the circle has a letter ‘P’ inside it.
  • Clothes that should be dry-cleaned under normal conditions will have a letter ‘F’ inside the circle.

Following this step-by-step guide will help prevent your clothes from ending up damaged or ruined. For a printable care label chart, check out our Facebook page.