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You Didn't Know What You Were Doing Wrong When Washing Clothes

No matter how long you’ve been doing laundry, chances are you get confused with the wash care symbols! Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!


Guide to Washing Symbols and Labels on Clothing | Cleanipedia

It can be tricky to understand washing symbols because there are so many of them. You might have experienced taking a new dress out of the washing machine, only to find it has shrunk to half its original size.

Don’t worry, avoid those problems by following our simple guide to understanding washing care symbols.

1) Basic Washing Symbols



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Bucket Filled with Water

This means a normal machine or hand wash where the garment can be washed at any temperature with detergent or soap.

Bucket with 1 Dot

This indicates that while washing, you must not exceed the specified temperature.

Hand Symbol Inside a Bucket

This means the clothing should be hand washed.

2) Cleaning Symbols for Ironing


Iron Symbol

This means the clothing can be regularly ironed at any temperature.

Iron Symbol with 1 Dot

This means you can only iron and steam the garment at low settings (110 oC / 200F).

Iron Symbol with 2 Dots

This means you can perform ironing up to a medium temperature (150 oC / 300F).

Iron Symbol with 3 Dots

This means you can iron, dry or steam the item up to a high temperature (200 oC / 350F).

A Crossed-Out Iron

This means ironing shouldn’t be attempted.

3) Tumble Dry Cleaning Symbol


The Tumble Dryer (A Square with a Circle in the Middle)

This means the clothing can be tumble or machine dried at any temperature.

A Tumble Dryer with 1 Dot

This means that a machine dryer must be used at a low heat setting, 2 dots suggests using a machine dryer up to a medium setting and 3 dots is up to a high setting.

A Black Circle in the Middle

This means that regular drying can only be performed on the ‘No Heat’ or ‘Air Only’ settings.

A Crossed-Out Tumble Dryer

This means the clothing can’t be tumble dried.

4) Bleach Washing Instruction Symbols


A Triangle Symbol

This means any type of bleaching product can be used during laundry.

Two Lines Inside the Triangle

This means only a non-chlorine bleach can be used.

A Crossed-Out Triangle

This means the clothing can’t be bleached.

5) Dry Cleaning Washing Symbols


A Circle Symbol

This means that the item can be dry cleaned.

A Crossed-Out Circle

This means that it can’t be dry cleaned.

The next time you do laundry, keep this guide handy for a simplified approach. Checking care labels is only the first step, delicate garments made from silk, wool, and cotton require extra care – using a mild detergent can also do wonders for such fabrics!

Originally published