Laundry Care Symbols Explained - Complete Guide (2022)

Laundry symbols (sometimes called laundry care symbols) are an essential part of garment care. The overall aim of these symbols is to provide information on how to clean a particular garment, while preserving its qualities. That is why all garments have their own specific set of cleaning instructions. Let’s dive right in and explore these pictograms and their meaning.

A printable PDF of all laundry symbols and their meaning is available for download here.

 

What Are Laundry Symbols And Where To Find Them

Laundry symbols are pictograms found on care labels. Care labels (sometimes referred to as care tags) are the labels attached to a garment. Usually these labels can be found in the side seam, waistband seam or inner pockets of a garment. Care labels contain instructions on how to take care of a garment before, during and after cleaning and use. Most care labels have instructions in both symbols and written text.

 

What Do Laundry Symbols Mean

Laundry symbols indicate the maximum strain and stress a garment can handle. Exceeding these recommendations causes damage and loss of quality. In other words, not following the recommendations decreases the lifetime of your garment and may even render it useless after cleaning.

Laundry symbols are categorized in 5 separate categories according to their purpose:

Washing. These symbols indicate if a garment may be washed or not. If a garment is washable, they specify the method of washing (machine or hand wash), hottest temperature allowed and which washing machine cycle should be used.

Bleaching. These symbols indicate whether or not bleach may be used. In case a garment may be bleached, the pictogram indicates what type of bleach is suitable and in some cases is accompanied by a recommendation regarding the strength of the solution.

Drying. These symbols indicate how to dry a garment. They specify if a machine/tumble dryer can be used or natural drying is more suitable. When a tumble dryer can be used, the pictogram indicates what temperature and cycle (i.e. settings on the machine) are applicable.

Ironing. These symbols prescribe whether or not a garment may be ironed. If a garment can be ironed, the pictogram also tells whether it is allowed to use steam. In case a garment may be ironed, the symbols specify the correct temperature setting based on the material composition of the garment.

Dry cleaning. These symbols indicate whether or not a garment can be professionally dry cleaned or not. If a garment can be dry cleaned, the pictogram provides instructions for the professional cleaning service. It indicates if a garment can be chemically or wet cleaned. When a garment can be chemically cleaned, it names the solvent and cycle the professional cleaning service is allowed to use.

 

Why Use Laundry Symbols

Laundry symbols are not only provided for cleaning a garment properly. They also make sure the overall properties of the garment remain intact. Consider the following important reasons to adhere to the care instructions carefully:

  • Preserving the original design characteristics
  • Preserving qualities of the materials, trims, prints and embellishments
  • Preserving the overall look of the garment
  • Preserving feel of the materials
  • Maintaining wearing comfort
  • Longer garment lifespan

Next up, we present 5 charts with the common laundry symbols.

 

Meaning Of Washing Symbols

Washing symbols indicate whether a garment may be washed or not. If a garment can be washed, they specify whether a washing machine or handwash is the allowed washing method. Further specifications include temperature, cycle and spinning speed (i.e. the settings on your washing machine).

When handwashing garments are made of delicate fabrics, be mindful that it is easy to make the water too hot which can cause shrinking or other damage.

 

Symbol

Meaning

wash laundry symbol from rogier

A basin with water indicates that the garment can be washed at the hottest available temperature.

do not wash laundry symbol from rogier

A garment cannot be washed under normal circumstances. Usually, it can only be professionally dry cleaned.

hand wash laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may only be handwashed. The temperature of the water should not exceed 30-40°C (85°F / 105°F).

wash with care laundry symbol from rogier

A single bar under the basin means a garment should be washed in the permanent press cycle. A garment should be washed with care. The more bars under the basin, the lower the recommended spin speed.

wash with extra care laundry symbol from rogier

A garment should be washed with extra care. A double bar under the basin means a garment should be washed in a delicate/gentle cycle. The more bars under the basin, the lower the recommended spin speed.

 wash 30 degree laundry symbol from rogier wash 30 degree laundry symbol from rogier

The maximum temperature for washing a garment is 30°C/85°F.

 wash 40 degree laundry symbol from rogierwash 40 degree laundry symbol from rogier

The maximum temperature for washing a garment is 40°C/105°F.

 50 degrees max washing symbolwash 50 degree laundry symbol from rogier

The maximum temperature for washing a garment is 50°C/120°F.

 wash 60 degree laundry symbol from rogierwash 60 degree laundry symbol

The maximum temperature for washing a garment is 60°C/140°F.

 wash 70 degree laundry symbol from rogierwash 70 degree laundry symbol from rogier

The maximum temperature for washing a garment is 70°C/160°F.

 wash 95 degree laundry symbol from rogierwash 95 degree laundry symbol from rogier

The maximum temperature for washing a garment is 95°C/200°F.

 

 

 

Meaning Of Bleaching Symbols

Bleaching symbols indicate whether or not bleach may be used. If bleach can be used, the symbol refers to the type of bleach that is suitable for the material. Sometimes written text on the care label will provide instructions on the strength of the solution. Therefore, be sure to use high quality bleach.

 

Symbol

Meaning

 bleach laundry symbol from rogier

Both chlorine and non-chlorine bleach may be used on a garment. Be sure to use good quality bleach.

 

 do not bleach laundry symbol from rogierdo not bleach laundry symbol from rogier

The use of bleach is prohibited. Do not use bleach on a garment.

  chlorine bleach only laundry symbol from rogier

The garment may be bleached with chlorine. Make sure to use the recommended strength solution.

 non-chlorine bleach only laundry symbol from rogiernon-chlorine bleach only laundry symbol from rogier

The use of chlorine bleach on a garment in prohibited. Only non-chlorine, colour-safe bleach may be used on a garment when needed. Make sure to use the recommended strength solution.

 

 

 

Meaning Of Drying Symbols

​Drying symbols indicate whether a garment can be dried using tumble dryer or not. Sometimes the drying symbol indicates if a garment should be laid flat or hung to dry. In most cases it is recommended not to wring a garment and give it enough air to breath while drying. Avoid drying garments in direct sunlight to avoid losing color qualities (e.g. fading or dulling) or other characteristics.

 

Symbol

Meaning

 tumble dry laundry symbol from rogier

A garment can be tumbled dried at the hottest available setting.

do not tumble dry laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may not be tumble dried.

 tumble dry cold only laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may only be tumble dried cold. Use the No Heat/Air only setting.

permanent cycle only laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may only be tumble dried on the permanent cycle setting. A garment should be tumble dried carefully.

delicate tumble dry only laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may only be tumble dried on the gentle/delicate cycle setting. A garment should be tumble dried extra carefully.

 tumble dry low heat laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may only be tumble dried at low heat.

 tumble dry medium heat laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may only be tumble dried up to medium heat.

 tumble dry high heat laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may be tumble dried up to high heat. 

 do not wring laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may not be wrung to dry it.

 hang to dry laundry symbol from rogier

A garment should be hung to dry it.

 lay flat to dry laundry symbol from rogier

A garment should be lied out flat to dry it.

 do not shape or smooth laundry symbol from rogier

A garment should be hung to dry it without shaping or smoothing.

 dry in shade laundry symbol from rogier

A garment should be dried in the shade, away from direct sunlight.

 

 

 

Meaning Of Ironing Symbols

When a garment can be ironed, it is important to refer to the material composition before actually starting to iron. Since most modern irons have in-built settings for different fabrics, be sure to check whether the ironing symbol matches that of the iron’s settings.

While ironing a garment, avoid ironing any type of print, embroidery, decoration or other embellishment. With delicate fabrics it is often recommended to use a protective pressing cloth to avoid direct contact between the iron and the garment.

 

Symbol

Meaning

 iron allowed laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may be ironed at any temperature, using steam or ironing dry.

 do not iron laundry symbol from rogier

A garment is prohibited from being ironed.

 iron lowest setting laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may only be ironed at the lowest setting.

 iron medium setting laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may be ironed up to the medium setting.

 iron highest setting laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may be ironed up to the highest setting.

 iron with steam allowed laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may be ironed using steam.

 dry iron only laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may only be ironed dry, steam is prohibited and may cause damage to the garment.

 

 

 

Meaning Of Dry Cleaning Symbols

Dry cleaning symbols are meant to instruct professional dry cleaners when handling your garment. These symbols are divided into chemical and wet cleaning. When a label displays the letters P, F or A in a circle, it refers to cleaning with chemical solvents. But when the care label has an encircled W, it refers to wet cleaning. Wet cleaning refers to professional cleaning without the use of chemical solvents. Before using the services of a professional dry cleaner, it is highly recommended to check the quality of their work before handing over your pieces.

 

Symbol

Meaning

 dry clean laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may be dry cleaned using any solvent, cycle, heat and moisture.

 do not dry clean laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may not be dry cleaned.

 restricted dry clean laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may be dry cleaned with any solvent but is combined with restricting in cycle, heat and moisture.

petroleum dry clean only laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may only be dry cleaned with petroleum-based solvent. The dry cleaning is more mild than PCE-based treatment. It is usually found in embellished and/or delicate garments.

 mild petroleum dry clean only laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may only be dry cleaned mild using only petroleum-based solvent.

 delicate petroleum dry clean only laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may only be dry cleaned very mild using only petroleum-based solvent.

 pce dry clean only laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may be dry cleaned using trichloroethylene (PCE) only.

 mild pce dry clean only laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may be dry cleaned mild using trichloroethylene (PCE) only.

 delicate pce dry clean only laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may be dry cleaned very mild using trichloroethylene (PCE) only.

 short cycle dry clean only laundry symbol from rogier

A garment should only be dry cleaned using the short cycle.

 reduced moisture dry clean only laundry symbol from rogier

A garment should be dry cleaned with reduced moisture.

dry clean without steam laundry symbol from rogier

A garment should be dry cleaned without using steam.

 dry clean low heat only laundry symbol from rogier

A garment should be dry cleaned on a low heat setting.

 wet clean laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may be professionally wet cleaned.

 mild wet clean only laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may be gently professionally wet cleaned.

 delicate wet clean only laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may be very gently professionally wet cleaned.

 do not wet clean laundry symbol from rogier

A garment may not be wet cleaned.

 

 

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