Have you ever ruined your most-loved piece of clothing? I know from my own experience how frustrating this can be. Especially if fast fashion isn’t yours, and you’ve spent time and money to create a well-curated, quality wardrobe. Then it’s even more frustrating when a carefully selected piece of clothing is suddenly missing in your closet – only because you misinterpreted the instructions on the care label. Undoubtedly, all these laundry symbols can be confusing.
Given this, I thought it may be helpful to create an overview. Something for us to refer to whenever we’re unsure. Because if we want to make our clothes last, checking the care label is half the battle.
Explaining Laundry (Care) Symbols
Laundry Symbols for Washing
- The ‘basin’ symbol basically says that the piece of clothing can be washed. If it’s crossed out, your garment can’t be washed and typically needs to be dry cleaned.
- The number indicates the maximum water temperature. The most common are 30, 40, 60, or 95 degrees Celsius. In Fahrenheit: 86, 104, 140, and 203 degrees. Sometimes, you’ll find 1 – 3 dots inside the basin symbol instead of numbers. Then, the more dots, the higher temperature you can choose.
- The lines underneath the basin show which wash cycle of your washing machine you have to select. Most washing machines have these options:
- Regular cycle also called normal or cotton cycle = no line
- Permanent press cycle also called colors cycle = 1 line
- Delicate cycle also called gentle or wool/silk cycle = 2 lines
- The ‘hand in basin’ symbol means you need to hand wash the garment instead of using the machine. From my experience, though, modern washing machines’ delicate cycle is often more gentle than hand washing.
Laundry Symbols for Ironing
An iron symbol tells you that you can iron the garment, while a crossed-out sign means you can’t. The number of dots indicates which temperature you have to choose. One dot indicates to use low, two dots medium heat setting. Three dots mean that you can use high heat, usually for cotton or linen fabrics.
Sometimes lines coming from the bottom of the iron symbol specify that you can steam the garment. If they’re crossed out, it shows you can’t.
Laundry Symbols for Tumble Drying
The symbol for tumble drying usually is a circle in a square. Sometimes a circle only. The dots indicate if the garment can be dried on low, medium, or high heat. If the symbol is crossed out, don’t tumble dry the item at all. If there are no dots, you could use the dryer at any heat. But, be aware that dryers are very energy-intensive appliances. Moreover, tumble drying ages your clothes very quickly.
Laundry Symbols for Dry Cleaning
‘Dry cleaning only’ clothes typically have a crossed-out washing symbol. Additionally, there’s a dry cleaning symbol, which is a circle that usually contains a letter. You don’t need to worry about what the letter means as it only tells the dry cleaners what cleaning process and chemicals they have to use. If the dry cleaning symbol is crossed-out, the item has to be (hand-) washed, e.g., garments with sequins or embellishments.
More Tips and Inspirations
Have you invested in a quality wardrobe and want your carefully selected clothes to last longer? Check out these tips:
Do you want your cashmere jumper or silk blouse to be in your wardrobe for a long time? Here are my best tips on how to specifically take care of luxury fabrics:
Keeping your clothes and shoes in perfect shape ensures they are available whenever you want to wear them. This is essential, but there are more ways to organize and optimize your wardrobe:
- How to Make the Most of Your Wardrobe (Organization + Styling)
- How to Organize Your Wardrobe in 5 Steps
Like the idea of less, but luxe! …? Follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more tips and inspiration. Plus, join my email list to receive regular updates and content exclusively available to my readers!
Have you ever ruined your most-loved piece of clothing? Let me know why and what you do to prevent this from happening again? Share your tips and experiences below!