How To Read Laundry Symbols. Here’s The Answer

The symbols inscribed on your garment tags may appear to be in a foreign language, but they serve an important purpose: they keep your clothes looking newer for longer. These laundry symbols explain everything you need to know about washing, drying, bleaching, and ironing. Setting the temperature and wash cycle as advised by the manufacturer not only produces excellent laundry results, but it can also protect your items from damage.

According to Jonathan Walford, curator of the Fashion History Museum, laundry emblems were employed in Europe as early as the late 1950s. Although the concept did not catch on in the United States until the 1970s, laundry tag symbols may now be seen on practically every clothing. While there are minor variances between European and American versions, the majority of laundry icons and garment tags are universal.

The first thing you should learn is what each symbol on a laundry symbols chart implies. The bucket of water image tells on how to wash a garment, the square with a circle in the center on how to dry it, and the iron symbol on how to iron it. The remaining laundry tag symbols provide directions for bleaching (triangle), dry-cleaning (circle), and non-machine drying (square). So, if you have any doubts, trust Teeanime!

Laundry Symbols Chart: Decoded

Washing Instruction Symbols

Washing Methods

  • Machine Wash
  • Hand Wash
  • Do Not Wash
  • Dry Clean Only
  • Do Not Dry Clean

Washing Temperatures

  • Wash Cold (in temperatures between 65 and 85F)
  • Wash Warm (in temperatures at a maximum of 105F)
  • Wash Hot (in temperatures that exceed 120F)

Washing Cycles

  • Normal Cycle
  • Permanent Press Cycle
  • Delicate/Gentle Cycle

Getting the water temperature and wash cycle just right is critical for clean, fresh-smelling laundry, and it can even save your items from harm. On the other end of the scale, certain garments simply aren’t sturdy enough to be washed; putting such apparel in your washer could ruin it. The symbols above indicate how to wash a clothing, what temperature to use, and which cycle is required. While there are advantages and disadvantages to washing in hot water, if you follow the care instructions on your items, they will always appear clean and smell fresh.

On new clothes or outfits that you are unsure about, always check the label. Look for dry cleaning symbols (a circle) or hand wash symbols (represented by a tub of water with a hand sign). Know what to look for to avoid putting these clothing in the washing machine!

Drying Laundry Symbols

Drying Methods

  • Tumble Drying Allowed
  • Do Not Tumble Dry
  • Hang To Dry
  • Dry Flat
  • Do Not Wring

Drying Temperatures

  • Any Heat
  • High Heat
  • Medium Heat
  • Low Heat
  • No Heat/Air

Drying Cycle

  • Normal Cycle
  • Permanent Press Cycle
  • Delicate/Gentle Cycle

Drying your clothes is a vital part of keeping them looking good and fitting properly. You know what we mean if you’ve ever dried a sweater that came out of the wash three sizes too small. Understanding drying symbols might help you extend the life of your favorite clothes.

Bleaching Laundry Symbols

  • Bleaching Allowed
  • Do Not Bleach
  • Use Non-Chlorine Bleach

If you decide to use bleach, check the fabric care label of your item to see if there is a bleach symbol. To prevent your item from being destroyed by chlorine bleach, follow the label directions.

Ironing Laundry Symbols

  • Iron Low
  • Iron Medium
  • Iron High
  • Do Not Iron
  • No Steam Added To Iron

Some fabrics, such as cotton and linen, look beautiful after ironing; others, such as synthetic delicates, can be easily damaged. Wool and silk, for example, can be ironed, but only without the use of steam. Following the care labels on your items will help a lot, but your iron can also help: Most current irons have temperature settings for commonly used fabrics.

Dry Cleaning Laundry Symbols

  • Any Solvent
  • Any Solvent Except Trichloroethylene
  • Petroleum Solvent Only
  • Short Cycle
  • Reduce Moisture
  • Low Heat
  • No Steam Finishing

“Do not wet clean” means exactly what it says. Putting clothes with this symbol in the washing machine will hurt them. “Professionally dry clean” means that the dry cleaning process must use a certain solvent, cut down on cleaning time, add or remove steam when pressing the garment, and follow other instructions. Even though these are more for your dry cleaner, we did promise you the ultimate guide to laundry symbols.

You may have noticed that detergents do not have any instructions on their care labels. That’s because most modern washers can clean most clothes with cold water. Most laundry detergents have enzymes that work even when the temperature is only 60°F. Most clothes, towels, throws, and other machine-washable items only need cold water, but check the label to be sure.

We hope that our guide to all the symbols used in laundry will help you take better care of your clothes. Do you want your whole house to be as clean and fresh as your clothes are now that you know how to do laundry? Let The Maids come up with a cleaning plan for your home that works with your budget, schedule, and cleaning needs.