Have you seen those laundry code symbols that are on the labels, in other places and wondered what these laundry symbols mean? The laundry symbol is a universal symbol for all types of wash, including hand washing and clothes washing machines. The same symbols can be found in apparel, home goods, and even cars!
Like other industries, the laundry industry has developed a universal language of symbols that makes it easy for you to understand what you’re looking at. It might seem daunting at a glance, but as you go through this international laundry symbol guide, you will see a pattern. And, by the end of this guide, you will actually be flaunting your newly held knowledge of decoding every laundry symbol. We promise.
Five Basic Universal Laundry Symbols
- The Washtub Symbol – Washing
- The Triangle Symbol – Bleaching
- The Combination of Circle & Square Symbol – Drying
- The Circle Symbol – Dry Cleaning
- The Iron Symbol – Ironing
Let’s take a look at each of the laundry guide symbols and understand what they mean.
Laundry Symbols Guide for Machine Washing
The washtub symbol shows how to wash your clothes. It includes instructions for every step of the washing process, whether you’re using a traditional or HE washer. The dots represent if the garment is machine washable, the numbers represent temperature, and the lines represent the cycle.
The Washtub with numbers - Washing Temperature
- 30 indicates cold water wash,
- 40 indicates warm water wash, and
- 50 indicates hot water wash
The Washtub with dots - Machine Washable
- One dot indicates washing your garment in cold water
- Two dots indicate washing your garment in warm water
- Three dots indicate washing your garment in hot water
The Washtub with lines - Cycle
- No lines mean you can wash on a normal cycle
- One line means a permanent press cycle
- Two lines mean a gentle cycle
Hydrogen peroxide can be used on everything from clothing to carpeting and is more effective than bleach at removing stains. If you’re worried about bleaching your pillow, skip this part of the guide or use a gentle detergent to remove stains.
Laundry Symbols Guide for Hand Washing
The washtub symbol with a hand reaching in the tub means your garments should be hand-washed only. Do not wash them in the washer. An icon that almost looks like a candy with an X marked on it, indicates your garment should not be wrung or twisted. You can gently squeeze the water out after you have washed it. Again, if you see the tub with an X marked on it, stay away from washing it – your garments should be dry-cleaned only.
Laundry Symbols Guide for Bleaching
The triangle symbol in the laundry symbols indicates bleaching and everything related to how your garments can and cannot be bleached. An empty triangle means you can use any type of bleach. A triangle with two lines through it means you can only use non-chlorine or oxygen bleach. A triangle with an X means no bleach.
Laundry Symbols Guide for Drying
The combination of circles and squares decipher everything you need to know about drying garments including temperature, cycle, and the methods of drying.
The Circle with Dots - Temperature for Tumble Drying
- One dot indicates drying your garment in cold temperature
- Two dots indicate drying your garment in a warm temperature
- Three dots indicate drying your garment in a hot temperature
The Circle & Square Combination with Lines - Tumble Cycle
- No lines mean you can tumble dry on a normal cycle
- One line means a permanent press cycle
- Two lines mean a gentle tumble dry cycle
The Square with Lines - Method of Drying
- One horizontal line – Lay your garment on a flat surface to dry
- Three vertical lines – Hang your garments to drip dry
- A curved line – Hang your garments on a line to dry
- Two diagonal lines – Dry it in the shade only
Laundry Symbols Guide for Ironing
The iron symbol on the garment means everything related to how you can or cannot iron your garments. The concept of dots and X remains the same as mentioned above.
The Iron with Dots Inside - Ironing Temperature
- One dot indicates ironing your garment at a cold temperature
- Two dots indicate ironing your garment in a warm temperature
- Three dots indicate ironing your garment at a hot temperature
The Iron with Three Little Dots Under - Steam Iron
- Three little dots under the iron means you can steam iron safely
- Three little dots under the iron with an X indicates no steaming
Laundry Symbols Guide for Dry Cleaning
A simple circle with no dots, no lines, and no cross means your garment is dry clean only. If the circle is marked with an X, it means you should not dry-clean it. In case there are any alphabets inside the circle, it’s meant for professional cleaners as they indicate the type of chemicals that should be used for dry cleaning.
The five symbols above can be used in any country, though the exact words and colors may be different than those seen here. The point is, you will see the same symbol in your sweatshirt in China or on your car seat covers in Canada. And, you will know exactly what they mean.
There you have it – a concise guide to laundry symbols. You might also want to read our concise guide on how often you need to wash your clothes.
If anything needs to be added or corrected, we would love for you to contact us and let us know so that we can make any necessary changes.
Frequenty Asked Questions
Q: What do the laundry symbols on clothing mean?
The laundry symbols on the clothes represent the temperature, cycle, and every minor detail related to how your clothes should and shouldn’t be washed, dried, and ironed.
Q: Why are laundry symbols important?
Laundry symbols are important as they help to prolong the life of your clothes and avoid damage caused by wrong laundry methods.
Q: What does the green circle laundry symbol mean on my label?
The color does not represent anything but the circle means your garment should be dry-cleaned only.
Q: Why does my label have a washing tub marked with an X?
X marked on a washing tub indicates that the garment should not be washed.