Jump To Content

What Do Laundry Symbols Mean?

By: The Cleancult Team

The thrill! The excitement! The best thing in the world: brand new clothes! After trying on a lot of sizes and combinations you’re finally bringing those bad boys home. If you’re exactly like us, you don’t even take a look at the tag with the washing and drying instructions on it. In fact, we don’t even look at them until right before turning on our washer and throwing the clothes in with a little laundry detergent. And even when we decide to look at them, if you’re an average adult, you probably don’t even know what all those drawings and symbols are all about! Well, today, with a little help from our friends over at Love2Laundry, we’re about to change that!

There are, of course, some symbols which result familiar and whose meaning we can probably guess correctly. For example, if we see a bucket with water and a hand, we could probably, maybe correctly guess that you’re supposed to handwash that garment. However, if you stop to think how many laundry symbols do you know by heart our guess is that you could count them with the fingers in your right hand.

Did you know that by not following these directions you could be damaging your clothes? And we’re not talking about using a harsher vs gentle detergent or about choosing between liquid laundry detergent or laundry pods, we’re talking about washing in hot water when you could wash in cold water or tumble drying when you most definitely shouldn’t. These types of laundry mistakes are both the easiest to prevent, and the most difficult to repair.

In this article, we will cover the most common washing, bleaching, drying, ironing and professional cleaning symbols. Take the time to review every care label as each represents a different action which will help prolong the life of your fabrics.

Washing: A washtub (that kind of looks like a bucket) without any number at the centre means that you may wash that garment in your washer at any cycle or temperature you prefer. If there is a number inside the tub, that means that you should use that temperature (in celcius). If there is a hand, you should either wash these delicate garments by hand or on a gentle cycle. Gentle laundry detergents are very much preferred when washing a delicate garment. Or always, really ;)

Btw, a crossed out washtub means that you should not wash your item. Ever.

Drying: These symbols are divided into 2 main categories: natural drying and tumble drying. Natural drying symbols mean that the garment should be left to air dry. Tumble drying symbols mean that the garment should be dried on an electric or gas dryer. Crossed out symbols meant that it shouldn’t be tumble dried. Even when using safe detergents or softeners, you could end up destroying your garments by drying them the wrong way, so beware!

Ironing: Yes, ironing sucks, but it’s better to know how to do it properly than to try to do it and damage your clothes! These are easier to remember and are always represented by the outline of an iron.

Bleaching: Bleaching care symbols are meant to indicate which type of bleach is safe to use with your clothes.

Professional Cleaning: You would probably refer to professional cleaning as dry cleaning. Chances are, if you see a letter on the label of your garment, it’s intended to be professionally cleaned. The letters ‘F’ and ‘P’ are used to describe chemical washes and the letter ‘W’ means a wet clean. The more bars you find underneath your laundry symbols is a signal for a more gentle wash. Easy enough!

So now that you know how all of this works, remember to take great care of your clothes and they shall take care of you! The cycle and conditions on which you wash your clothes are just as important as the laundry detergent that you wash them with.

Take a look at the complete infographic, curtesy of our friends over at Love2Laundry here: