Everybody has experienced it at least once – pulling out a favorite item of clothing from the washing machine only to find that it is now shrunken, saggy, discolored, or damaged! It is at this point you wish you had paid more attention to the symbols on clothing washing labels.
Here, we will explain the most common washing instruction symbols on clothing care labels.
- Wash symbol: Depicted as a bucket filled with water, the Wash Symbol tells you what temperature or machine setting you should use to wash the item of clothing.
Temperature indication: Inside the ‘Normal Wash’ symbol, there will either be a temperature value or 1 to 6 dots that signifying temperature ranges.
- One Dot = 30oC
- Two Dots = 40oC
- Three Dots = 50oC
- Four Dots = 60oC
- Five Dots = 70oC
- Six Dots = 95oC
- Permanent Press: The Permanent Press symbol has one line beneath the standard wash symbol. Permanent Press fabrics have been treated with chemicals to ensure they resist wrinkles and retain their original shape. If a piece of clothing is permanent press, it usually means that you shouldn’t iron it.
- Gentle Cycle: The Gentle Cycle symbol has two lines beneath the standard wash symbol. The gentle cycle is for delicate fibres like wool or silk, or for items of clothing that could be damaged by a vigorous washing (like sequined tops, tights, or lycra).
- Hand Wash: The Hand Wash symbol is the standard wash symbol with a hand at the top. For ‘Hand Wash’ clothing, do not use a washing machine. Instead wash garments in a sink or small tub, using your hands to ensure that the cleaning liquid is thoroughly rubbed into the material and subsequently rinsed out. Check your cleaning liquid to make sure it is suitable for hand washing – milder detergents have been specifically designed for hand wash use, and they are safe for your clothes and for your hands!
So now you know if you can put your items in the machine, here's how:
- Do Not Wash: The Do Not Wash symbol is the standard wash symbol with a cross through it. If the label instructs you not to wash the item, it will have to be dry cleaned after it gets dirty – see the section on Dry Cleaning Symbols below.
Bleaching Guidelines on Clothing Washing Labels
The next symbol on the care label is a triangle that refers to whether specific bleaching conditions are required for the item.
- Bleach: A triangle without anything in the middle means that any kind of bleach can be used on the clothing when needed.
- Non-Chlorine Bleach Only: A triangle filled with diagonal lines means that only non-chlorine bleaches should be used. Check the ingredients on your bleach to see if it contains chlorine.
- Do Not Bleach: A solid black triangle with crossed lines means ‘do not bleach’ – you should not attempt to use any kind of bleach on this garment.
Ironing Guidelines on Clothes Care Labels
To make life easy, the ironing symbol is shaped like an old-fashioned iron.
Ironing symbols also employ the same dot system for heat levels, which should be adjustable on your iron:
- Iron on high: Three dots mean that the item can be ironed on high.
- Iron on Medium: Two dots mean that it can be ironed on medium.
- Iron on Low: One dot means that it can be ironed on low.