Decoding Care Label Symbols


What do you know about the basic garments you must have to wear under your protective wear?

Basic clothing such as T-shirts, pants, and socks fall under the “care instructions” label, also becoming known as care label symbols. The most common include delicate colors, drip dry, normal wash, and permanent press. Some look alike but deliver very different results.

Care label symbols cover most clothing in this day and age. So, take a look and decode today.

Washing Instruction Symbols

Symbols include a washing machine with wavy lines to denote that an item can be machine washed, an iron with wavy lines to advise that a garment can be steam ironed, and a circle with a cross to tell you not to machine wash or tumble dry the item.

Machine Wash

Machine washable items should be labeled with the “Machine Wash” symbol, which is a washtub with a diagonal line going through it and a number typically below it.

Dry Clean Only

The triangle symbol is the most important one when it comes to a Dry Clean Only item; it is the universal symbol for dry cleaning. If you come across a garment marked with a triangle, do not wash it in a washing machine – take it to a reputable dry cleaner and let the professionals handle it.

Wash Hot

Washing at temperatures above this can be damaging to the fabric and cause fading and shrinkage, making the fabric less durable and long-lasting.

Avoiding the use of extreme temperatures when washing and drying clothing labels can help maintain their structure and appearance for longer.

Normal Cycle

The “Normal Cycle” on a design care label symbol refers to the washing cycle which provides adequate cleansing of normally soiled items. This cycle typically uses water or liquid detergent with a moderate wash and spin speed and is designed to effectively remove normal soils and odors.

Drying Laundry Symbols

A custom care label for clothing is often represented by a solid circle, triangle, or square with a line or lines through it. Symbols such as a solid circle indicate that the item can be both tumble-dried and line dried.

Hang To Dry

Hanging your clothes to dry is a great way to help them last longer and to reduce damage from the dryer. It is also a much more energy-efficient way to air-dry clothes. It may take a bit longer to hang your clothes than to throw them in the dryer, but you’ll be doing your clothing a favor for years to come.

Permanent Press Cycle

The Permanent Press Cycle reduces wrinkles, giving your clothes a crisp, wrinkle-free finish. This cycle uses a combination of warm water, low tumbling speed, and shorter drying time to emit fewer wrinkles.

The temperature is lower than on a normal cycle, meaning your delicate fabrics will not be exposed to too much heat. The cycle also uses mild detergents, meaning your clothes won’t be exposed to strong chemicals.

Bleaching Laundry Symbols

Bleaching laundry symbols specifically tell us how to bleach our clothes without damaging them. The simple crossed-out triangle shape means don’t bleach while the little triangle in a circle means to use non-chlorine bleach only.

And finally, a triangle with an upside-down triangle in it instructs us to use both chlorine and non-chlorine bleach. Following these symbols will help keep your clothes looking good and lasting longer.

Use Non-Chlorine Bleach

Taking the example of using non-chlorine bleach, this care label symbol will look like a triangular shape with a wavy line inside alongside the words “bleach when needed”.

What this symbol effectively means is that it is okay to use non-chlorine bleach when washing the item, but it is important to spot-test a small, hidden area of the garment beforehand to avoid the color loss or fabric damage.

Ironing Laundry Symbols

Ironing symbols are quite universal and are often divided into dry cleaning and washing. An “iron” symbol with an accompanying number up to a “4” implies the greatest heat setting for the item can be used.

An “iron” symbol with a circle underneath (with or without a number) suggests avoiding the use of direct heat or steam. An “iron” symbol with a “line” underneath it means you can use a hot iron but with no steam.

Dry Cleaning Laundry Symbols

The symbols are universal, taking the guesswork out of proper cleaning and maintenance of garments. The symbols often come in the shape of either a circle or a square. Within the circle or square will be an image, such as a brush, an iron, or a dryer.

It can save time and energy, keeping clothes dry and helping them last longer. When deciphering symbols, the first step is to look for the ‘do not dry’ or ‘do not use a dryer’ label. It is typically a circle or square with a curved line through it.

Learn More About Care Label Symbols

Care label symbols are essential for knowing how to properly care for clothing. Studying care symbols can also help normalize eco-friendly laundering and draw attention to labeling transparency.

Regularly reading and decoding care labels is the best way to stay informed and ensure your clothes stay looking their best. Act now and take the steps necessary to learn the basics of decoding care label symbols.

If you want to explore the best topics, we’ve got you covered. Check out some of our other blogs today!


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