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The Ultimate Guide to Laundry Symbols

Posted on March 1, 2022 by oozle

Did you know that those laundry symbols you see on the tags of your clothes are actually instructions on how to wash them? While you probably already knew that, like most, you probably ignore them because you don’t know what they mean. While these symbols may seem like another language, they are crucial to the care of your clothes. By ignoring them, you could accidentally ruin some of your favorite clothes.

To help stop that from happening, we’ve created this guide that goes over what these symbols look like and what they mean. Let’s dive into it!

Decoding Laundry Symbols

Clothing manufacturers have been using these laundry symbols since the 1950s. These symbols were created as an international language so that no matter where you are in the world, you’d be taking care of your clothes properly. On your care tags, you’ll see these five basic symbols:

  • Washtub (Washing)
  • Triangle (Bleaching)
  • Iron (Ironing)
  • Circle (Dry Cleaning)
  • Square (Drying)

To make it even easier to read, these symbols will be listed from left to right in the order shown above. Not only do these symbols help keep your clothes in good condition, but it also makes doing laundry easier.

Washtub Symbols

The washtub symbol is the most commonly seen on your clothing care tags. These symbols tell you how you should be washing your clothes. These symbols include:

  • Washtub With Numbers: Numbers in the washtub indicate what temperature you should be washing your clothes at. 30 means cold water wash, 40 means warm water wash, and 50 means hot water wash.
  • Washtub With Dots: The dots also indicate what temperature you should wash your clothes at. The more dots you see, there can be up to six, the hotter the temperature should be. If you see a single dot, wash it in the cold and increase the temperature with each dot.

If you see a washtub symbol with lines underneath, this indicates what cycle you should machine wash that article of clothing on.

  • Washtub With No Lines: If there is no line under the washtub, this indicates that you should wash it on a normal cycle.
  • Washtub With One Line: If there is one line underneath the washtub, this indicates you should wash your clothes on a permanent press cycle.
  • Washtub With Two Lines: If there are two lines underneath the washtub, this indicates that you should wash your clothes on a gentle cycle.

As a reminder, the more lines you see under the washtub symbol, the more gentle the cycle should be when washing your clothes.

Hand-Washing Symbols (Washtub)

There are three symbols that indicate that you should be hand-washing your clothes. These symbols are:

  • A hand reaching into the washtub
  • An X through the washtub
  • A symbol that looks like a piece of wrapped candy with an X through it, meaning do not wring

If you see any of these symbols on your clothing tags, do not put these into your washing machine. Typically, hand-washing only clothing needs a more gentle wash and can’t handle your machine.

Triangle Symbols

The triangle symbols tell you how you should be bleaching your clothes. Here is what these symbols mean:

  • Empty Triangle: An empty triangle indicates you can use any type of bleach and use bleach as needed.
  • Triangle With Two Lines: A triangle with two lines indicates that you should be using non-chlorine bleach only.
  • Triangle With an X: A triangle crossed out with an X indicates you should not use any bleach at all.

Bleach is a chemical that can permanently damage your clothes if not used correctly. It is important to remember that when using bleach use the recommended amount when washing your clothes.

Iron Symbols

The iron symbols tell us all we need to know about ironing our clothes. The ironing symbols are easy to understand and use the same system as the washtub symbols. These symbols are as follows:

  • Iron With Dots: The dots in the iron indicate what temperature you should iron your clothes at. One dot means cool, two dots means warm, and three dots means hot.
  • Iron With Steam: If the iron symbol has little bursts of steam underneath it, this indicates that you should steam your clothes.
  • Iron With Steam Crossed Out: If the iron symbol with steam is crossed out with an X, this indicates that you should not use any steam.
  • Iron With an X: If you see an iron symbol crossed out with an X, this indicates that you shouldn’t be ironing that piece of clothing.

With all of the wrinkle-free clothing out there, you may find yourself ironing less and less these days. While you may not be ironing as much, there might be times when your clothes have a lot of wrinkles after being washed. Ironing works great for some fabrics, but it can also cause a lot of damage if not done correctly.

Circle Symbols

The circle symbols tell us everything we need to know about dry cleaning. Dry cleaning is the process of cleaning clothes without using water. Water can damage certain clothes so you’ll want to pay attention to these symbols:

  • Circle: A circle symbol on your clothes, indicates that it is dry-cleaned only.
  • Circle With an X: A circle with an X through it indicates that you should not dry clean.

There may be times that you see a circle with a letter on the inside. These indicate what kind of chemicals can be used on that piece of clothing. This is for professional use and when you take it to a dry cleaner, they’ll understand what it means.

Square Symbols

The square symbols tell us everything we need to know about drying our clothes. There are a variety of different ways you can dry your clothes, making these symbols the most complicated to read. These symbols are as follows:

It is important to note that all these symbols will have a circle on the inside of the square.

  • Square With Circle in The Center: A square with a circle in the center indicates that you should tumble dry your clothes.
  • A Square With a Filled-in Circle: A square with a filled-in circle in the center indicates that you should use no heat.
  • Square With Dots: The dots in the square indicate what temperature you should iron your clothes at. One dot means cool, two dots means warm, and three dots means hot.
  • Square With One Line Underneath: If there is a single line underneath the square, this indicates that you should use the permanent press cycle.
  • Square With Two Lines Underneath: If there are two lines underneath the square, this indicated you should use the gentle cycle.

The symbols above tell us everything we need to know about machines drying your clothes. However, if none of the square symbols you see have a circle inside them, then that indicates that you should not be using machines and air-drying only. Here are what the air-dry symbols mean:

  • Square With a Horizontal Line: A square with a horizontal line through the middle, indicates you need to lay your clothes flat to dry.
  • Square with Three Vertical Lines: A square with three vertical lines indicates that you need to hang your clothes to drip dry.
  • An Envelope Square: A square that looks like an envelope indicates that you need to line dry your clothes,
  • Square With Two Diagonal LInes: A square with two diagonal lines in the corner indicates that you should dry your clothes in the shade.

You always want to check the drying symbols on your clothes tag because it helps you avoid shrinkage. If you’re trying to shrink your clothes, be sure to wash them in hot water then dry them on high heat.

Make Sure Your Washer and Dryer Are Working

Now that you know what all the laundry symbols mean, you should become a laundry pro! Part of doing laundry is making sure that your washer and dryer are working properly. Here at Proserv Las Vegas, we are equipped with the right tools and have the experience to repair most major brands of washers and dryers. Contact us today for your quote!

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