How to read laundry care symbols

How to read laundry care symbols

Clothestip | 6 minute read |

Understanding laundry care symbols is essential for keeping your clothes looking and feeling new for longer. However, these symbols can often seem like a foreign language, leading to confusion and mistakes in garment care.

This article aims to decode the mystery surrounding laundry care symbols, making it easier for you to follow the recommended care instructions and ensure your clothing stays in great condition for years to come.

The first step in laundry care: Understanding a clothing label

The journey towards better laundry care begins at the clothing label. This small tag, usually found on the inside of the garment at the neck or along the side seam, holds essential information to preserve the fabric's integrity and appearance.

As the first step, understanding the symbols and instructions on the clothing label lays the foundation for effective garment care, guiding us towards practices that extend the life and look of our attire.

Understanding a clothing label

Here’s what to do:

  1. Locate the label: Typically found on the inside of the garment at the neck or along the side seam. 
  2. Identify symbols: Look for symbols indicating washing, drying, ironing, bleaching, and professional care instructions. 
  3. Deciphering symbols: Familiarize with basic symbols: a tub for washing, a triangle for bleaching, a square for drying, an iron for ironing, and a circle for professional cleaning. 
  4. Follow instructions: Adhere to the indicated care guidelines to maintain garment quality and longevity.

The importance of understanding laundry care symbols

Understanding and following laundry care symbols is a step towards both environmental responsibility and economic savings, promoting a thoughtful approach to garment care.

This section delves into how a simple act of adhering to laundry care instructions can ripple into broader positive impacts, both for our wallets and the planet.

  • Water and energy efficiency: Using correct washing settings minimises water and energy consumption, aligning with eco-friendly practices. 
  • Reduced clothing demand: Prolonging garment life curtails the constant need for new clothing, decreasing production demands and environmental impact. 
  • Recycling and reselling: Understanding care symbols can lead to better maintenance, allowing for clothing donation or resale instead of disposal. 
  • Long-term savings: Reduced need for replacements and lower energy bills culminate in notable savings over time. 
  • Value retention: Proper care maintains the aesthetics and functionality of garments, especially high-quality or designer pieces, preserving their value and extending their usability.

Understanding laundry care symbols

As mentioned, understanding and following laundry care symbols is a step towards both environmental responsibility and economic savings, promoting a thoughtful approach to garment care.

Let’s begin with the most common symbols:

Hand washing symbols

Hand washing symbols

Understanding hand washing symbols on your clothing labels is essential for the proper care of delicate or hand-wash only items. These symbols indicate whether a garment is suitable for hand washing and at what temperature, ensuring that you clean your clothes without risking damage.

Hand washing symbols

  • A tub symbol with a hand denotes hand washing or delicate cycle at 40°C/104°F or lower, ideal for delicate items like cashmere or silk. 
  • A twisted symbol indicates the item can be wrung. 
  • A crossed-out twisted symbol advises against wringing the item.


Synthetic washing symbols

Synthetic washing symbols

Understanding synthetic washing symbols is key when it comes to caring for garments made from synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon.
Synthetic washing symbols

  • A tub symbol signifies machine washing, with the number indicating the maximum temperature. 
    • Bars under the tub relate to spin and rinse adjustments:
    • No bar: Normal spin and rinse.
    • 1 bar: Reduced spin speed.
    • 2 bars: Mild wash, normal spin and rinse. 
  • Numbers on a washtub symbolise different water temperatures for washing:
    • 30 represents a wash with cold water 
    • 40 signifies a wash with warm water 
    • 50 means a wash with hot water, all measured in degrees Celsius
  • A crossed-out tub symbol means the item should not be machine washed.

Read more: How to use washing machine properly.

Bleaching symbols

Bleaching symbols on clothing labels give crucial instructions for bleaching the fabric. They inform whether bleaching is safe and, if so, which type of bleach is appropriate to avoid damage.

Bleaching symbols

  • A plain triangle indicates that all types of bleach are permissible.
  • A plain triangle with CL also indicates chlorine bleach are permissible.
  • A triangle with two diagonal lines signifies that only non-chlorine (oxygen-based) bleach is suitable.
  • A triangle crossed with an X means that no bleach should be used.
Besides, read more tips here:

Dry cleaning symbols


Dry cleaning symbols

Dry cleaning symbols provide specific instructions on whether a piece should be dry cleaned and, if so, how to do it safely without causing any damage.

  • A small circle on the care label denotes a requirement for dry cleaning. 
  • A letter within the circle guides the dry cleaner on the chemical to utilise. 
    • A = Any solvent 
    • F = Any solvent except Trichloroethylene 
    • P = Petroleum solvents only 
    • Additional bars under the circle signify the level of care the dry cleaner should exercise. 
  • A crossed-out circle advises against dry cleaning the item. 

Ironing symbols

Understanding laundry symbols is crucial to ensure your clothes get the right treatment, especially when it comes to ironing. Some fabrics can handle a hot iron, while delicate ones might get damaged.

Ironing symbols

  • An iron symbol with no dots allows ironing at any temperature. 
  • Dots on the iron symbol indicate heat levels: 
    • 1 dot: for delicates like silk and wool. 
    • 2 dots: for synthetics. 
    • 3 dots: for linen and cotton. 
  • A crossed-out iron symbol means the item should not be ironed.

Drying symbols

Understanding dry cleaning symbols on your clothing labels is crucial as it helps ensure your clothes get the care they need, especially during the drying process in your dryer.

Using the wrong dryer setting could shrink or even damage your clothes beyond repair. By getting familiar with drying symbols, you'll be better equipped to keep your favourite garments in top-notch condition and avoid any laundry mishaps.

Drying symbols

  • A circle inside a square on the care label signifies tumble drying is allowed. 
  • Dots within the symbol indicate temperature settings:
    • 1 dot: low temperature.
    • 2 dots: medium temperature.
    • 3 dots: high temperature.
  • A crossed-out tumble dry symbol advises against tumble drying the item.

Optimising laundry care with electrolux washing machines


Laundry symbols are there to guide you so your clothes get the care they deserve. Make sure you use the right washing machine settings and cycles as indicated by these symbols to prevent unwanted lint and to maintain the quality and longevity of your fabrics.

Electrolux washing machines, with their array of customised wash cycles and innovative features, provide the flexibility and care required to adhere to these laundry guidelines.

By understanding and following the laundry symbols on your garments, and by leveraging the advanced functionalities of Electrolux washing machines, you can ensure that your clothes remain lint-free, vibrant, and in excellent condition for years to come.

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