What washing symbols mean?

Share this post0000

Laundry Symbols Explained

When you stare blankly at the laundry symbols on your most prized possessions does your head spin? Have you ever bought a beautiful garment, worn it, looked at the care label symbols and thrown it in the laundry basket promising a hand wash that never happens? We’re all guilty of speed reading the label and hurriedly throwing our favourite items in the wash at 30 in the hope that it will come out of the wash just fine, right?

We know the feeling when you pull out your favourite piece and find it shrunken, shapeless, discoloured or damaged and kick yourself for not reading the label more carefully.

All of those laundry symbols have a specific meaning and we have put together a downloadable essential guide you can put to use today to ensure you are doing everything to maximise the lifetime of your most prized threads.

Each label should state the fabric type and as a minimum include, in order, four symbols: washing, bleaching, drying and ironing. The water temperatures suggested are provided as a guideline.


• If the care label has a small circle the manufacture is stating you must dry clean this item.
• If there is a little letter inside the circle it’s indicating to the dry cleaner what chemical to use.
• The more bars underneath the circle indicate the level of precaution the dry cleaner must take.
• If there is a cross over the circle symbol you should not dry clean the item.

Why not leave your dry-cleaning in our expert hands and book a collection with our industry professionals.


• Your item can be ironed at any temperature If the care label iron symbol has no dots
• The more dots on the iron symbol suggests the temperature of heat that can be applied:

• 1 dot: delicates i.e, silk and wool.
• 2 dots: synthetics.
• 3 dots: linen and cotton.

• If there is a cross over the iron symbol you should not iron the item.

We know how much you hate ironing, so why not get a crisp, professional press from an expert and instead spend that time doing something you love.


• If the care label has a circle inside a square your item can be tumble dried.
• The more dots on the iron symbol suggests the temperature of heat that can be applied.
• If there is a cross over the tumble dry symbol you should not tumble dry the item.


•If the care label has a tub with a hand your item can be hand washed or put in a delicate washing cycle of 40°C or lower.
• Hand washing is better suited for delicate items like cashmere or silk as the wash is gentle preventing shrinking or snagging.
• If the care label has a twisted symbol your item can be wrung.
• If the care label has a cross over the twisted symbol you should not wring the item.


• If your care label has a tub symbol your item can be washed in the washing machine.
• A number on the tub symbol indicates the maximum temperature that can be applied.
• The more bars underneath the tub indicates a reduction of spinning and rinsing:

No bars: The item can be spun and rinsed as normal.
1 bar: Spin speed should be reduced.
2 bars: Mild wash but can be spun and rinsed as normal.

• If there is a cross over the tub symbol you should not wash the item.

If these laundry symbols seem like too much hard work, our on-demand laundry service is on hand to help. We can collect, clean and deliver your laundry back to you, freshly washed and smelling fabulous.

In the meantime, you can download our complete care label guide and print it out for reference. Click here to download.

Was this article helpful for you? Leave your thoughts below.

Confusing laundry label symbols explained!

So-long shrunken jumpers, bye-bye bobbly T-shirts and sayonara stretched-out sleeves – washing your clothes correctly saves you money AND stress. But trying to figure out a laundry label can feel like playing a game of Pictionary – badly (“Is that a crown? And what do all those lines mean?”).

Don’t panic: we have cracked the code so you don’t have to.

Take a look at the list below (and perhaps bookmark this page for future reference!) for a simple and successful laundry day. And to make laundry even easier, try Ariel 3in1 Pods. No messy measuring needed – simply throw the capsule packed with cleaning power into your washing machine drum and you’re ready to go! Click here to buy Ariel 3in1 Pods now.

Washing symbols

This group of symbols lets you know if your garment is safe to put through the washing machine, or if it needs more delicate treatment.

Tub with wavy water: This means it is safe to machine wash. The number inside the tub signifies what temperature you should wash the garment at. If the tub has a cross through it, that means do not machine wash.

Tub with peaked waves: If it has one line drawn beneath it, this means you must wash this garment on a synthetic cycle. With two lines beneath it, it should be a wool wash.

Tub of water with a hand in it: Hand wash only.

Circle: Dry-clean only. The circle will probably have a letter in it, which tells the dry-cleaner what solvent to use. If the circle has a cross through it, the item should not be dry-cleaned.

Drying symbols

These symbols well help you avoid items shrinking or becoming misshapen when drying.

Square with circle in it: This means the item can be tumble dried. If there is a dot in the middle of the circle, it must be done on a low heat. Two dots means it can be dried on a high heat. If there is a cross through the symbol, the item should not be tumble-dried.

Square with lines: If the square has three vertical lines in it, this means you should drip dry the item. If it’s one drooping line hanging from the top, this means hang to dry. If it has one horizontal line in the middle, this means dry the garment flat.

Ironing and bleaching symbols

These symbols will stop you from fading colours or doing any damage when ironing.

Triangle: A triangle symbol means ‘bleaching allowed’, so one with a cross through it means ‘do not bleach’. One with diagonal lines means use non-chlorine bleach only.

Iron: The dots in the iron symbol show the temperature you should iron the garment on, so one dot = cool, two dots = medium, three dots = hot. The cross through the iron means – you guessed it – do not iron.

Want to get money off your favourite detergent? Check out our coupons page for our latest offers.

* As with any household product, keep Ariel Pods out of reach of children. Learn more at http://keepcapsfromkids.eu/

Have you ever wondered about those illustrations on your clothing tags? They’re care instructions, and they are there to help you take good care of your clothes. Read on to find out what the most common laundry symbols mean. (See the chart at the end of the article for a complete list.)

If you see a symbol that looks like a bucket with water in it, it’s okay to wash that item in the washing machine. If there is one dot in the middle of the bucket, use cold water. Two dots in the middle of the bucket mean warm water is the way to go. Three dots mean hot water is best. A bucket of water with an X through it means you shouldn’t wash that item in the washer — handwashing or dry cleaning (indicated by an open circle) is called for. Wool, linen and washable silk are usually safe for handwashing, but check the label to be certain.

An open triangle means the item is safe to bleach. A triangle with two lines in it means use non-chlorine bleach. Non-chlorine bleach is generally safe for colors. Remember that some machines have a bleach dispenser, and some do not.

A square represents the best way to dry your clothing. One dot inside the square means tumble dry on low heat, two dots mean medium heat, and three dots mean high heat. If you see a square around a fully colored-in circle, it’s okay to tumble dry — but don’t use heat. If you see a square around an open circle with an X through both: skip the dryer altogether, and line dry (this symbol looks like an envelope) or lay the item flat to dry (a square with what looks like a minus sign through it).

When ironing clothing, you need to use the right heat for a given fabric. Some fabrics can be damaged by very high heat; other fabrics won’t let go of wrinkles without it. As with washing and drying symbols, the number of dots inside an iron icon tells you the amount of heat to use on an item of clothing. One dot: low heat. Two dots: medium heat. Three dots: high heat.

There are quite a few other laundry symbols you may see from time to time. This handy chart will help you decipher them — and help you keep your clothes looking their best.