How To Read Laundry Symbols

A hand showing the laundry symbols of a cloth.

Laundry day: the one day you find yourself staring at tiny symbols on clothing tags, feeling utterly confused.

So, how to read laundry symbols?

This guide is here to make that task a breeze.

Imagine you’ve just bought a beautiful sweater, and you want to keep it looking fresh for as long as possible.

Understanding laundry symbols is key.

How to Interpret Laundry Symbols?

Interpreting laundry symbols is like deciphering a secret code.

Each symbol provides specific instructions to ensure your clothes are washed, dried, and ironed correctly.

Let’s break it down.

Washing Symbols

The washing symbols look like a bucket of water.

Inside, you might see dots or numbers.

The dots represent temperature, while numbers indicate the maximum wash temperature in degrees Celsius.

For example, a single dot means cold wash, around 30°C.

Two dots mean warm, about 40°C.

Three dots mean hot, around 50°C.

If you see a hand inside the bucket, it’s hand wash only.

A bucket with a cross?

Don’t wash it at all.

Drying Symbols

Drying symbols often appear as squares with circles or lines inside.

A plain square with a circle means tumble dry.

Dots inside the circle again refer to heat settings: one dot for low, two dots for medium, three dots for high.

A crossed-out circle?

Avoid the tumble dryer.

Horizontal lines mean lay flat to dry, vertical lines mean line dry, and a single curve at the top means drip dry.

Ironing Symbols

Ironing symbols look like, well, irons.

Dots inside represent the heat setting: one dot for low, two for medium, three for high.

A crossed-out iron means no ironing.

Bleaching Symbols

Bleaching symbols are triangles.

A plain triangle means you can use any bleach.

A triangle with two lines means use non-chlorine bleach only.

A crossed-out triangle means no bleach.

Professional Care Symbols

These include circles and letters inside.

A circle with a “P” means dry clean with any solvent except trichloroethylene.

A circle with an “F” means dry clean with petroleum solvent only.

A circle with a “W” means professional wet cleaning.

A crossed-out circle means no professional cleaning.

What Do the Symbols on My Washing Machine Mean?

The symbols on your washing machine can also be puzzling.

Understanding them ensures your clothes get the best care.

Basic Machine Symbols

A simple t-shirt symbol means a standard wash.

A shirt and tie?

It’s for a delicate or gentle wash.

A flower symbol indicates a fabric softener compartment.

A tub with a hand means manual or hand wash.

Temperature Settings

Numbers and dots on the machine’s dial represent temperature.

Match these with the symbols on your clothes to avoid damage.

Spin Speed

A spiral symbol indicates spin speed.

High spin speeds extract more water but can be harsh on fabrics.

Lower speeds are gentler.

Drying Symbols

Some washing machines also have drying functions.

A square with a circle and dots denotes tumble drying.

A crossed circle means no tumble drying.

What Are the 5 Most Common Basic Laundry Symbols?

Knowing the five most common laundry symbols can simplify your life.

  1. Bucket with One Dot: Wash at 30°C (cold wash).
  2. Square with Circle and One Dot: Tumble dry on low heat.
  3. Iron with Two Dots: Medium iron temperature.
  4. Triangle with Lines: Non-chlorine bleach only.
  5. Circle with “P”: Dry clean with any solvent except trichloroethylene.

How Do You Translate Laundry Symbols?

Translating laundry symbols is like learning a new language.

Once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature.

  • Start Simple

Begin with the basics: washing, drying, and ironing.

Understand the common symbols first.

  • Use Guides

Print out a laundry symbol guide or keep one on your phone.

These are handy for quick reference.

  • Practice Makes Perfect

The more you wash, the better you’ll understand the symbols.

Is There an App That Reads Laundry Symbols?

Yes, technology comes to the rescue.

Several apps can help decode laundry symbols.

  • Laundry Lens

Laundry Lens is a popular app.

You take a picture of the label, and the app translates the symbols for you.

  • Cleanly

Cleanly not only translates symbols but also provides laundry tips and reminders.

  • Clorox MyStain

This app not only decodes symbols but also advises on stain removal.

  • Using Apps

Apps make laundry care easier, especially for those tricky symbols.

A laundry symbols on a piece of cloth.

FAQs for How to Read Laundry Symbols?

How do I check my washing symbols?

Look for washing symbols on the care labels inside your clothes. These labels typically provide a series of icons indicating washing, drying, and ironing instructions to help you properly care for the garment.

When were laundry symbols invented?

Laundry symbols were introduced in the 1950s. They were created to standardize garment care instructions internationally, ensuring that people worldwide could understand how to properly wash and maintain their clothing.

Why are laundry symbols important?

Laundry symbols are crucial for maintaining the quality and longevity of your clothes. They provide specific care instructions, preventing damage from incorrect washing, drying, or ironing methods, and ensuring your garments stay in good condition.

Where are laundry symbols found?

Laundry symbols are typically found on care labels sewn inside your clothing. These labels are usually located along the inside seam, at the neck, or near the waistband, providing essential care information for the garment.


Understanding how to read laundry symbols ensures your clothes receive proper care.

From washing and drying to ironing and professional cleaning, these symbols provide all the instructions you need.

By learning the basics, using guides, and even leveraging technology, you can keep your wardrobe looking its best.

Whether you’re deciphering symbols on a new dress or figuring out your washing machine’s settings, this guide has you covered.

Happy laundering!

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