Symbols on a washing machine: what do they mean?

The symbols on a washing machine may seem like a secret code, but rest assured they can be easy to understand with our simple guide. Just keep reading!

Updated 25 August 2021


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time5 minutes

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Symbols on a washing machine: what do they mean?

Have you ever heard the saying that there is no such thing as a silly question? This is definitely true when it comes to interpreting the symbols on your washing machine!

Even though there are a number of consistencies across the range of washing machines, it is worth taking a few minutes to learn more about the settings on your individual machine and exactly what the intended use of each programme is.

For a more general guide, just refer to our guidance below.

Check your manual for the most accurate instructions on the meaning behind the symbols on your washing machine.  If you've lost track of the paper copy, go online to find your model’s manual

Wash Setting Symbols on a Washing Machine

Again, check your manual. Every machine is different and if you want to get the best out of your machine, it is important to know how best to use it. After the investment of purchasing a washing machine, it’s worth a few minutes of your time to learn how to use it properly.

You will notice several dials on the control panel of your machine, no matter the brand:

  • The largest dial will be for wash type. There may be options for fabrics like cotton, colours, synthetics, sports clothes, wool, curtains, and more.

  • Another one will be for temperature, usually ranging from 30-90. Consider the type of clothes you’re washing and the quality of your detergent when setting this. Cooler washes may need a good bio detergent like Persil Bio Caps to clean clothes fully.

  • The third dial, if you have one, is usually designed to control the drying spin cycle in terms of dryness and/or the amount of time you want your clothes to tumble for. Options will include closet-ready dry, damp (good for ironing afterwards) and no spin at all. It is critical to choose an appropriate setting for the types of fabrics you are washing. Drying is where many clothes lose their shape or size so beware!

The symbols on a washing machine around the dials will match the list of options on the panel, which are usually numbered. Simply pick which wash cycle suits the load, turn the dial to indicate your choice, put in your detergent, and press start!

Most machines will display the amount of time the wash takes so you know when to come back and retrieve your clothes or begin the drying process. There will likely be other, smaller buttons, for separate options like eco-wash, time delay, and the almighty on/off button.

Symbols on Washing Machine Detergent Drawers

Once you have your clothes ready and the best wash cycle, temperature, and spin selected, it’s time to add what your clothes need to become clean: Detergent, fabric conditioner, and pre wash!

When it comes to putting these products in the right place, general guidelines include three symbols:

  • I= pre wash

  • II= main wash

  • Flower symbol= fabric softener

The smaller section is for fabric conditioner, the larger for washing powder or liquid, and the third (if there is on) is for pre-treatment. For more information on dosing, check out our guide on where (and when) to add products.

Now that you have a better idea of how to translate the language of the washing machine, you should be able to make better use of the settings and select the washing machine symbols that suit your clothes best!

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