What Do Those Laundry Symbols Mean

By February 28, 2018 Tips
Make laundry easier

You’ve just bought a beautiful new top, and on Saturday, you wore it out and about, delighting in praise all day long. Now it sits, crumpled at the bottom of your laundry basket, covered in food stains and stinking of sweat.

Obviously, it needs a good run through the washing machine. If at this point you chuck it in the washing machine and press whatever random buttons you can lay your hands on, you’re making a big mistake.

Certain clothes need to be washed at certain temperatures, spin cycles, and some can’t even be put in the washing machine at all. Then comes the drying and the ironing – there are a whole set of rules for those procedures too. So, what to do?

Fear not, we have it all figured out for you! If you follow these steps, we can guarantee that you will not end up shrinking your favourite top, or ruining your expensive dress.


1. Find the label

Find the Label

Luckily, most clothes come equipped with handy guides on how to wash and dry them in your washing machine and tumble dryer. You turn the top inside out and search for the little white label that you know is of importance to this process.

When you find it, at first you might be a bit confused as it appears to be written in some alien language, accompanied by symbols that may or may not represent a washing machine. Some of the numbers you recognise as belonging to your own language, but you’re not entirely sure what they mean.

But that little piece of label will actually save your clothes from a disaster, so congratulations, you’ve found the washing care label – the cryptic little tag that tells you how it’s best to wash your clothes. Unfortunately, that washing machine label is covered with little washing machine symbols that give little clue as to their true meaning – which brings us to the next point.





2. Learn what the symbols mean

In order to make things easier for you, here’s a brief guide to reading those weird little laundry symbols.

Washing Your Clothes


I. The Bucket With Water In It

Out of the clothes washing symbols, you should recognise one of the symbols as a little bucket filled with water. This is the most important symbol when it comes to selecting your washing machine cycle.

II. The Bucket With Numbers

If you’re lucky, there will be a number inside that little bucket. That number is the temperature that the garment should be washed at. Say you see a little 40 – that means that you should avoid washing your top on a hot wash.

Go over 40 degrees centigrade and you risk damaging your top or shrinking it, especially if you constantly wash at that temperature.

Learn what the symbols mean


III. The Bucket With Dots

Sometimes the temperature is represented by little dots rather than a number. One dot means a rather chilly 30 degrees, two dots symbolises 40 degrees, three dots 50 degrees, four dots 60, five dots, 70, and six, a scorching 95 degrees.

IV. The Bucket With a Hand

If you see a hand, rather than a little number or dots in that tub, then you’re out of luck. That means your garment is hand wash only and you’ll need to get the washing tub out.

V. The Bucket With a Big Cross

Even more extreme than the hand wash symbol is the little water tub with a big cross through it. That means you can’t wash the garment at all. Instead, you’ll have to get it dry cleaned.

VI. The Lines Underneath the Bucket

Next, you might notice lines underneath the washing symbols. One line underneath a bucket of water stands for “permanent press”. This means that the garment has been treated with chemicals so that it retains its shape.

Therefore, you shouldn’t iron a garment with one line laundry symbols on the tag. Two lines however, has nothing to do with ironing. Two line washing machine symbols mean that the garment is made from delicate materials like wool, and needs a gentle cycle on your washing machine.

So, that’s the washing machine confusion out of the way, but what about those other funny clothes washing symbols? They don’t indicate what you should do with your garment during a wash, but how you should dry it.


Drying Your Clothes


Drying your clothes

If the washing machine is represented by a little bucket of water, what has the washing machine industry chosen to represent your tumble dryer? More simplistically, it’s represented by a small square with a circle in it that looks like a tumble dryer.

I. Tumble Dryer With a Cross

Again, a tumble dryer laundry symbol with a big cross through it means that you shouldn’t tumble dry the garment. Instead you’ll have to let it drip dry on a clothes rack or a washing line.

II. Tumble Dryer With the Dots

And again, dots stand in for heat. One dot inside the tumble dryer means tumble dry on low heat. Two dots means tumble dry on medium heat, and three dots means you can tumble dry on high heat.

III. Tumble Dryer With Lines Underneath

If the tumble dryer laundry symbols are underlined once, that again means the garment is permanent press and that a permanent press setting on your tumble dryer should be used. Just as with the washing machine, two lines means a delicate setting should be used.

IV. Tumble Dryer Filled in Black

If instead of dots your tumble dryer symbol is filled in black, that means you should tumble dry using no heat at all.


Ironing Your Clothes

Ironing Your ClothesSo, that’s those crazy washing machine symbols explained. The only other thing you might see on your tag is the outline of an iron. Again, dots inside the iron symbolise what heat the iron can be used at.

One dot, low, two dots, medium, and three dots high. As you might expect, if you see an iron with a big cross through it, that means you can’t iron the garment at all!

Closing Thoughts

We hope you found this article useful and fun.

Read some of our other blogs.