What Do Washing Symbols Mean?

Basket of laundry in front of a washing machine

Baffled by the symbols on your clothes? Wondering if you can stick everything in on a 30 degrees wash, and hope for the best? Well wonder no more about what washing symbols mean. We are here to help you out, so don't worry! Here's how to take care of what you wear.

Washing Machine Symbols

Washing symbols from clothes showing temperatures of water

Let's start with the most common ones you maybe familiar with. If your clothing has one of these symbols then it means it's machine washable. The maximum temperature it can be washed up to, is in the middle of the symbol. Just because an items says 60 degrees doesn't actually mean you have to wash it at 60 degrees, that's just the maximum temperature it should be washed at.

It will use less energy if you wash on a lower temperature. So if it's not heavily stained or needed for hygiene reasons consider turning the heat down!

There can be lines underneath these symbols to indicate how delicate the spin and rinse cycle needs to be. One bar means reduce the spin speed. Two lines means a low spin speed, but can still be washed in a machine. A lot of washing machines now have the ability to reduce the spin speed on a cycle, and temperature separate to the cycle default.

Tumble Dryer Symbols

Tumble dryer symbols from clothes

Using the correct temperature, or even if you should use the tumble dryer at all is key!

The circle within the square (with no dots) simply means it can be put in the tumble dryer. The Dots (if present) in the middle represent the heat setting that should be used. One dot is low heat. Two dots is medium heat. Three dots is high heat.

A cross through means you should not put the garment in the tumble dryer. Remember this one and take note as this has been the ruin of many a jumper, or dry clean only item of clothing.

Lines can appear on some items of clothing underneath the symbols. Like the washing machine symbols these indicate how powerful the spin speed should be. One line for lower than normal, and two lines for the lowest spin speed.

Hand Wash Only Symbol

Hand wash only clothes symbol

Pretty simple this one, hand wash only! Washing machines can have hand wash program's now. However depending on how sentimental or valuable the item of clothing is, please use with caution! Even the most delicate of washes in a washing machine can be too much for some items of clothing.

Having lots of clothes to wash in my house - I'll be honest I avoid anything with this symbol like the plague.

Bleach Symbols

Clothes Bleach symbols

These signs are all about bleach. If you are not one to add bleach in your machine, then you can happily move on knowing that you don't need to pay these anymore attention.

The open triangle means you can use bleach on the item. Children's sock or shirts looking less than white? If these symbols are on the tag, then you can happily add bleach to the wash to get them looking back to their brilliant white originals.

The Triangle with the two stripes in the middle (center in the picture) means you can use a non-chlorine, colour safe bleach in the wash.

Lastly, the right hand side symbol means do not bleach at all.

Bleach in the machine worry you? if you are concerned about bleach residues in the machine - schedule a maintenance wash after using washing machine cleaner to put your mind as ease.

Natural Drying Symbols

Natural Drying clothes symbols

This group are all natural drying symbols or hand drying symbols. Which hopefully will start to make more sense once you get the idea. These are all to tell you how BEST to dry your garment. It can help your garment dry and will hopefully last longer without loosing shape or getting damaged.

Top Left - the square with the curved line, like an envelope symbol. This means dry on a washing line.

Top Right - the square with 3 lines in the middle means drip dry. Mainly for clothes that wont loose shape.

Middle Left - The square with a single line in the middle. This means dry flat or your garment may loose or change shape.

Middle Right - The square with two diagonal lines in the top corner. This means the item of clothing is sensitive to sunlight - so you need to dry it in the shade.

Finally, the bottom middle symbol - This means do not wring dry. Don't twist your clothes to get rid of any moisture. Likely used on delicate or thin fabrics as it won't take it.

Ironing Symbols

Ironing symbols from clothes

This set is all about how to iron your garments. Unless you are lucky enough not to need anything ironing day to day, you maybe fairly familar with these.

Top Left - A blank iron symbol with no dots can be ironed at any temperature.

Top Right - An iron symbol with one dot. This can be ironed with a cool iron. As long as it has a temperature of no more than 100 degrees.

Middle Left - Two dots in the iron symbol. This means it needs a warm iron with a maximum soleplate temperature of 150 degrees.

Middle Right - Three dots in the iron symbol. This means your garment can be ironed using a hot iron with a maximum temperature of 200 degrees.

Bottom Left - This is simply do not iron. If your wardrobe has a lot of sequins or synthetic fibers chances are you will be familiar with this one.

Bottom Right - Do not steam this garment.

Dry Clean Symbols

Garment care dry cleaning symbols

Finally we have dry clean symbols. Any circle symbols will be about dry cleaning.

The left hand side symbol - it can be dry cleaned

The right one - it can not be dry cleaned

A letter in the middle of the circle is instructions for the dry cleaner. Such as "P", "A" or "F". This is instructions to the dry cleaner to ensure they use the correct chemical wash and method to use.

Don't think you'll remember? Take a look at this poster on Etsy here for a handy reminder in your laundry room!

So there we have it! Our complete guide to what washing symbols mean on clothes. Have you got any you are puzzled or anything we have missed? Let us know in the comments.

Now you've found out what do washing symbols mean, maybe you need some help on how much to fill your washing machine? Check out our previous blog here about if your putting too much or too little in your machine.

Also if you are looking to level up your washing machine our current range available can be found here too!

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