How to read washing symbols for safe laundry?

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Washing symbols or clothing care labels are micro-pictograms on the garment and a necessary aspect by law in many advance countries. They’re essential to ensure your garment is being treated properly during launder, iron and drying for longevity and preserving quality of the fabric itself. While the labels are easy to comprehend, they aren’t always clear and labelling schemes also differ from one country to another.

Still, there’s a generalised shift to international labelling especially with globalisation of clothing brands and manufacturers. Here’s how to decipher them;

Wash & spin symbols

A digit or number within a tub icon represents maximum temperature with which you can treat the garment whereas the bars underneath refer to the rinse and spin cycle.

          If there aren’t any bars at all, the garment can be rinsed and spun normally.

          Single bar indicates reduction of the spin cycle speed.

          Double or two bars shows that clothes require mild wash however, can be rinsed as usual.

Note that these items mustn’t be wrung by hand at all and if a cross symbol is imprinted over the tub, item requires dry clean treatment, not the usual wash. Ignoring the symbols and you’ll end up ruining the fabric entirely.

Hand wash symbol

In case the tub follows a hand wash program, wash the item by hand at temperature of either 40 degrees or less. Most washing machines also have a hand wash program and this is for delicate fabric like silk or cashmere. All such clothes need a gentler treatment than usual to prevent snag and shrink.

Ironing signs

Iron symbols bearing dots correspond to the temperature setting of iron such as the more the dots, higher can be (not necessary) be the temperature.

          If there aren’t any dots at all, you’re free to iron at any temperature but care is still advised.

          Symbol with two lines expending from the bottom bearing a cross represents “dry iron” and not steam iron at all.

          One dot is for extremely delicate items such as silk, satin and wool. Two dots represent synthetics where three are for cotton and linen.

          If symbol is crossed, it mustn’t be ironed at all.

Tumble drying symbols

If you begin with the right temperature, tumble drying is easy. Here’s how to proceed;

          Square with a circle inside means the garment can be tumble dried.

          Dots indicate temperature; one for lower and two for high heat.

          Crossed symbol means you shouldn’t tumble dry the fabric at all.

Clothes that may appear identical carry different labels with dissimilar manufacturing fibres or blends. Some blends or fibres tend to change their size when treated and may become furry upon tumble drying treatment. Only suitable fabric won’t give such effects and would remain smooth all over.

Dry clean symbols

Dry cleaning is a must for some clothes and here’s what you should do;

          A circle represents suitability of a garment to be dry cleaned, a letter or inscription inside the circle tells the dry cleaner about chemical wash and methods. Cross means no dry cleaning at all.



Learn to understand washing symbols from the details above and ensure perfect clothes all through.

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