Those cryptic hieroglyphics of the modern age! Today we are going to conquer the great summit and mystery of laundry… LAUNDRY SYMBOLS!
Ah, the thrilling adventure of doing laundry!
It starts with a pile of dirty clothes that could rival Mount Everest in height, taunting you with their stains and not so fresh smell. And don’t even get us started on the sock vortex—where do all the missing socks go? Despite the occasional sock casualties and the mishap of turning everything pink, there’s a strange satisfaction in conquering the laundry mountain.
But today we are going to conquer an even greater summit and mystery of laundry… LAUNDRY SYMBOLS!
Ah, those cryptic hieroglyphics of the modern age! It’s like deciphering an ancient society’s lost language every time you want to clean your clothes. “Tumble dry low” – What? Do we have to be gymnasts to do laundry? Are your jeans auditioning for Cirque du Soleil?
Well today we will decode this great mystery together!
What is a Laundry Symbol?
A laundry symbol or care symbol is a pictogram found on many clothing labels that explains the manufacturer’s recommended method to clean an item of clothing.
Pro Tip: There are international standards for care labels, however, their use and form may differ based on the country of origin.
Wash cycle and temperature are very important to properly clean an item of clothing. Also, clothing items need be sorted by color and fabric type.
The Laundry Symbol that looks like a ‘wash tub’ (or cup?) means that your piece of clothing can be washed in a washing machine. (Of course, you still need to follow the other symbols indicating cycle and temperature, etc.)
Cold Water: Cold water temperature is indicated by one dot in the ‘wash tub’ or will state the temperature as 30 degrees Celsius. (Usually between 65 – 86 degrees Fahrenheit)
Warm Water: Warm water temperature is indicated by two dots in the ‘wash tub’ or will state the temperature as 40 degrees Celsius. (Usually, not to exceed 104 degrees Fahrenheit)
Hot Water: Hot water temperature is indicated by three dots in the ‘wash tub’ or will state the temperature as 50 degrees Celsius. (Usually, the maximum is around 120 degrees Fahrenheit)
Permanent Press: The permanent press cycle is indicated by the ‘wash tub’ with one line underneath. Typically, clothing labels with this symbol are produced with synthetic fibers. The permanent press cycle commonly uses slower spin rotations and warmer temperatures.
Delicate/Gentle: The delicate or gentle cycle is indicated by the ‘wash tub’ with two lines underneath. This cycle is typically used for delicate items of clothing. It usually has a slow spin rotation and lower temperature to protect the garment from damage.
Caution: Some items of clothing should not by washed in a machine!
Hand Wash: Clothes that need to be hand washed are indicated by the ‘wash tub’ with a hand in the tub. This type of clothing should only be washed by hand.
Pro Tip: If the item is irreplaceable or vintage you may want to consider having it professionally cleaned.
Do Not Wring: The Do Not Wring symbol (A twisted towel with an X through it?) indicates that the item should not be wrung out to remove excess moisture. These items may tear, stretch or damage easily.
Do Not Wash: The Do Not Wash symbol is indicated by the ‘wash tub’ with an X through it. As stated: DO NOT WASH – These items may be permanently damaged by water or laundry detergent. Clothing with the Do Not Wash symbol should be taken to a professional cleaner to be cleaned!
Use CAUTION with Bleach!
Do Not Bleach: The Do Not Bleach symbol is indicated by an empty triangle with and X through it. As you can guess, Do NOT use Bleach on this type of item because will cause permanent damage.
Bleach As Needed: The Bleach As Needed or (Bleaching Allowed) symbol is indicated by an empty triangle. (Typically, the chlorine bleach is used with cold water and part of a diluted solution)
Non-Chlorine Bleach Only: The Non-Chlorine Bleach Only symbol is indicated by a triangle with 2 or sometimes 3 parallel lines inside the triangle. Non-Chlorine Bleach Only means that these types of clothing items should be cleaned with an alternative oxidizing agent. (For example, hydrogen peroxide)
Tumble Dry: The Tumble Dry symbol is indicated by a square with a circle inside. This symbol means that your clothing item can by dried in a dryer machine.
Do Not Dry: The Do Not Dry symbol is indicated by a square with a circle inside with an X through it. These types of clothing items should NOT be dried in a dryer machine!
Low Heat: The Low Heat symbol is indicated by a square with a circle inside with one dot in the circle. This type of clothing should only use minimal heat to prevent damage and/or shrinking.
Medium Heat: The Medium Heat symbol is indicated by a square with a circle inside with two dots in the circle. Use the medium heat setting on your dryer. Higher heat temperatures can cause damage and/or shrinking.
High Heat: The High Heat symbol is indicated by a square with a circle inside with three dots in the circle. These types of items can tolerate higher heat settings.
Dry In Shade: The Dry In Shade symbol is indicated by a square with two diagonal lines in the left corner. This means that the clothing item can not tolerate direct sunlight. The direct sunlight can cause damage such as fading.
Dry Flat: The Dry Flat symbol is indicated by a square with one horizontal line in the middle. This symbol indicates the the piece of clothing should by laid out flat on a drying rack or soft towel. Caution: If you use a soft towel be certain that it is color safe otherwise you risk the color from the towel transferring to the item you are drying!
Drip Dry: The Drip Dry symbol is indicated by a square with three vertical lines in the center. Clothing with this symbol should be dried on a drying rack in an area with could air circulation.
Hang Dry: The Hand Dry symbol is indicated by a square with a ‘drooping clothes line’ at the top. (We think it looks like a large envelope! LOL) These types of clothing should by hung on a clothing line and allowed to dry.
Permanent Press Dry: The Permanent Press Dry Cycle symbol is indicated by a square with a circle inside with one line underneath. This dryer setting is usually used with clothing items made from synthetic fibers.
Delicate / Gentle Dry: The Delicate / Gently Dry Cycle is indicated by a square with a circle inside with two lines underneath. Usually, this is a lower heat setting that will take longer to dry.
Does the Ironing symbol look like a boat? a bird? a spaceship? an alien with a bent antenna?
Iron Cool: The Iron Cool symbol is indicated by ‘an iron’ with one dot in the center. Use the lowest temperature settings on your iron to prevent permanent damage.
Iron Warm: The Iron Warm symbol is indicated by an iron with two dots in the center. Usually this means temperatures around 150°C or 300°F
Iron Hot: The Iron Warm symbol is indicated by an iron with three dots in the center. Usually this means temperatures around 200°C or 390°F
Steam As Needed: The Steam As Needed symbol is indicated by and iron with two legs? (A bird with two legs?) This type of item requires that you use steam instead of a dry iron.
Do Not Steam: The Do Not Steam symbol is indicated by an iron with two lines beneath with an X through the two lines. Steam may damage this type of fabric.
Do Not Iron: The Do Not Iron symbol is indicated by an iron with an X through the iron. Ironing can cause permanent damage to this clothing item!
Dry Clean OK: The Dry Clean OK symbol is indicated by an empty circle. This type of item should be cleaned by a Professional Dry Cleaner.
Do Not Dry Clean: The Do Not Dry Clean symbol is indicated with an empty circle with and X through it. These items can be permanently damaged by dry cleaning products. (Typically these are solvent based cleaning agents)