How to read a laundry label

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Never ruin your clothes again!

How often have we disregarded laundry labels and chucked our clothes into the washer, or dryer only to have it ruined by the end of the cycle? Or worse ironing them at the wrong temperature and end up burning a big hole in them. Yes, we’ve all been there before.

Unless we’re doing someone else’s laundry, chances are we would just chuck things into the washer without even checking their laundry labels. But it is the laundry labels that contain important information for each and every garment. But what do all those symbols mean? Let’s find out!

Know your Laundry labels

Machine wash

The symbols below are washing symbols. The first one stands for machine wash. If the washing symbol comes with a line under it, this means you need to wash the garment on delicate’s cycle. The second symbol means hand wash only and if there’s a cross in the symbol, it means you can’t wash it at all. It means that particular garment will need dry cleaning which would be explained further down below.

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So you see, having the right wash cycle for your laundry is actually quite important especially if you want great results. For instance curtains, bed sheets and jeans may require a tougher cycle due to their heavy-duty fabric and sheer bulk.

Whereas baby cloth diapers may require high temperatures to remove all bacteria. But you cannot apply the same settings to delicate clothing especially if you want to prevent damage to your clothes.

Below are symbols that tell you just how hot to set your wash for. Although not always in numerical format on the laundry label, you would still be able to tell by the number of dots. One dot equals wash in cold water, two dots equals warm water and three dots equals hot water.

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Another important symbol to note is whether or not you can bleach a garment. Our clothes are always prone to staining and dirt, so at some point, we might need to use a bleaching agent to do the removal. The first symbol which is an empty triangle means you can bleach the garment if need be. If you see a cross over the triangle then that means no bleaching. The last symbol simply means only a non-chlorine, colour-safe bleach may be used during washing.

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Dry cleaning

Technically if you send your clothes to the dry cleaners, the experts should know better and check your laundry labels before attempting to clean it. Still, it is good general knowledge to know what the symbols mean.

The circle means dry clean only and the circle that is crossed out means don’t dry clean at all. So don’t be sending that one to the dry cleaners! A dry cleaning symbol with an F in the circle means to dry clean using only petroleum solvent under normal circumstances and with restrictions. For the symbols with a P this means the laundrette can use any dry cleaning solvent other than trichloroethylene. Like we mentioned earlier dry cleaning symbols are more for the experts so that they can clean our things correctly and in a safe manner.

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Drying Symbols

What about drying symbols? It is represented by a circle inside a square. If you see this symbol it means you can tumble dry. However, if it is again marked by a cross then that means no tumble dry allowed. And just like the washing symbols from before dots represent heat settings from low to high. But if you see this last symbol at the end that resembles an envelope, it simply means you’ll have to line dry it.

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Ironing Symbols

Likewise, ironing symbols are pretty straightforward as well. An iron symbol with a cross just means no ironing allowed and a basic iron symbol simply means you can iron at any temperature with or without steam. Heat settings are again represented by dots or stated or as a set temperature in the symbol. However, if you only own a steam iron at home, be sure to check laundry labels before ironing. It is not really that common but occasionally you will get clothing that cannot be steam ironed.

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