Laundry days are always daunting. We all know how it feels to face an overflowing laundry basket after a long day at work. Our time is precious, and summoning the energy to tackle washing, drying, and folding clothes can be overwhelming. It's easier just to put the whole thing off altogether!
What's even more daunting to navigate? Taking the time to decipher the labels on your clothes. Each clothing item has specific needs, especially your more delicate garments such as dress clothes, underwear, and sweaters.
Make your life easier while taking better care of your clothes with our handy reference guide to the most common clothing care symbols.
Before we jump into the meaning behind each symbol, let's quickly cover the most common ones found on labels and how to read them. Your clothing tags always come with washing, drying, ironing, and bleaching symbols, each partnered with small details on best care practices.
Let's breakdown the meaning behind each symbol to make laundry day run a bit smoother (for both you and your clothes!)
If your item has a tub symbol, this means your item can handle a cycle in a traditional washing machine. If your tub symbol has a number inside the icon, that's the maximum temperature (in Celcius) the garment can handle.
For example, some clothing items will display the tub symbol with 30° C, which means that your clothing item should experience cold water at or below 30° C.
Some labels will use dots instead of numbers:
Bars under the washing symbol signify the type of cycle to use:
If the tub symbol is crossed out, do not place the item in the washing machine. In fact, any time an icon is marked in this manner, don't use that garment care method.
If your clothing label contains a small circle, this means the item must be dry cleaned. If the circle has a letter inside or bars underneath the circle, this indicates to the dry cleaner which chemical(s) to use on your clothing and the level of precaution the dry cleaner must take.
If your garment tag features a symbol that looks like hands in a tub, this means the item requires hand washing or placement in a delicate washing cycle. Materials such as cashmere or silk will usually feature this symbol since handwashing will prevent snagging or shrinking.
If this symbol is followed by another that looks like a twist, it means the item can be wrung out by hand. More delicate items can easily wrinkle if wrung, and will not display that symbol.
The drying symbol is a circle inside of a square, which means your item can be tumble-dried. The more dots within the square, the higher the recommended heat level.
For example, if the circle has two dots inside, your item can be tumble dried at normal temperature, or 80° C. If the circle only has one dot, lower the temperature to 60° C.
If the tumble dry symbol has a crossed out feature, you should not tumble dry the item.
For ironing, look for the iron symbol on your care label. If the symbol has no dots within it, this means you can iron your clothing at any temperature. The more dots the symbol contains, the more heat you can apply.
One-dotted iron symbols are reserved for delicates like silk and wool, two-dotted irons are for synthetics, and three-dotted irons are for cotton and linen.
The triangle on your care label is the symbol for bleach. If the triangle is empty, you can use any bleaching agent. If there are lines inside of it, make sure only to use non-chlorine bleach!
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