Laundry Symbols Infographic


Getting the most life out of your clothes involves following the care instructions. Things like washing machine agitation, water temperature, dryer temperature and the use of bleach play a major role in the life of your garments.


You don’t have to research the care instructions for the various fabrics in each load or worry about causing unintentional damage. Instead, you only need to read the laundry symbols on the label. In addition to reading these symbols, you should sort your clothes based on the material type and their colors.



What Do the Laundry Symbols Mean?


Laundry Symbols Image Person Reading the Clothing Label Showing Washing Instructions


A typical clothing tag has multiple laundry symbols listed, which can make deciphering the symbols seem complicated. However, each symbol has a very specific, straightforward meaning.


The washing machine symbols indicate if the clothing can be washed in the machine, what washing machine setting should be used and the water temperature. It may also indicate if bleach or other products should be used. The dryer labels indicate if the item should be air dried, dry cleaned or tossed in the dryer.


Additional labels indicate the level of heat for the dryer. Ironing and other care instructions may be shown as well.


What Are International Laundry Care Symbols?


The International Organization for Standardization, or ISO, is the organization that first produced the labels that are seen on our clothing tags. Many types of clothes are produced in a different country from where they are sold.


In many cases, the clothes will be sold in multiple countries. Because of these factors, international laundry care symbols are used to provide universal care instructions. These symbols bypass language barriers and provide valuable information that benefits everyone.


Washing Symbols

Washing Methods Symbols


Numerous washing method symbols are used across the various fabric types. These symbols indicate if an item should be washed by hand, laundered in the machine or cared for by a dry cleaner. Some symbols also indicate the type of cleaning products that should be used.


Washing Temperature Symbols


A garment that can be cleaned in the washing machine will have an icon that looks like a cup or basin of water. Inside this figure, you will see between one and five dots. These dots indicate the recommended temperature setting.


Laundry Symbols Cleanzen Image of a Female Hand Choose Mode with Knob on Washing Machine


One dot means that the item should be washed with cold water below 85 degrees. Two dots mean that the warm water setting should be used. This is water between 85 and 105 degrees. Three dots indicate the need for hot water, which is up to 120 degrees. Four dots mean that the temperature can be as high as 140 degrees, and five dots are for the sanitation setting. This setting is for water up to 160 degrees.


Washing Machine Symbols


Additionally, another washing machine symbol will be on the label if the garment can be laundered in the machine. This indicates the washing machine cycle setting to use. The normal cycle is a basin icon with no lines underneath it. One line underneath the symbol is for the permanent press cycle, and two lines are used for the gentle or delicate cycle.


If a label does not have a basin symbol, it will have a circle or an icon with a hand. An outline of a circle means that the item should be dry cleaned. If that circle is crossed out, the item should not be dry cleaned. If the icon shows a hand, the clothing should be washed by hand.


Drying SymbolsLaundry Symbols Drying Instruction Symbols

Drying Method Symbols


The Drying methods include using the dryer and air drying it. One of the air drying icons has a box with a small arch at the top, and this indicates the need to hang the item up to dry. If the box has a horizontal line in it, the garment should lay flat to dry. Three vertical lines in the box indicate the need to drip dry.


There is also an icon that looks like a twisted garment with an X over it. This symbol means that the garment should not be wrung out. Two diagonal lines in the upper left-hand corner of the box means that the garment should dry in the shade.


Drying Temperature Symbols


The drying temperature symbols look like the dry cleaning symbol, but they are easy to differentiate. The dry cleaning symbol is an open circle while the drying temperature icons are a circle placed in a square. One dot in the circle indicates the need for low heat. Two dots mean medium heat, and three dots are used for high heat.


Drying Cycle Laundry Symbols


In addition to the dryer temperature setting symbols, there are drying cycle symbols. If the circle is open, the item should tumble dry. There is also a filled-in circle, and this means that the item should air dry in the machine without heat.


Bleaching Ironing & Dry Cleaning Symbols


Bleaching SymbolsLaundry Symbols Bleaching Laundry Symbols

A triangle icon on your garment means there are special care instructions related to the use of bleach and if the triangle is open or unfilled, bleach can be used. If the triangle is crossed out, bleach should not be used. If the triangle has two slanted lines through it, you should only use non-chlorine bleach.


Ironing Symbols

Laundry Symbols Ironing Laundry Symbols

The ironing symbol looks semi-circle with a bent line on top. The symbol will have one dot for low iron heat, two dots for medium heat and three dots for high heat. An X over the iron indicates that the item should not be ironed. If the X is below the iron, steam should not be used.


Dry Cleaning SymbolsLaundry Symbols Dry Cleaning Laundry Symbols

The dry cleaning symbol is a large cycle. If the garment can or should be dry cleaned, the circle is unfilled. If the symbol has an X on it, dry-cleaning the garment is not recommended.


More Laundry Tips


Laundry Symbols Cleanzen Image of a Person Putting Jeans Into the Drum of a Washing Machine


While the laundry icons are straightforward, it can be difficult to keep up with what each of the many symbols mean. A smart idea is to print out a sheet listing the icons and their meanings. You can post this in your laundry room for easy access. Here are more laundry hacks that you can save too:

  • Always sort your clothing by both color and fabric type.
  • Delicates should always be washed separately.
  • When you place the clothes in the dryer, put them in one by one.
  • Never overstuff the washing machine or dryer.


Are you looking for a personalized cleaning solution that simplifies your life? With professional cleaning service from Cleanzen, you can take advantage of a healthy, pristine home without doing the chores yourself. To learn more about putting hours back into your weeks, contact our friendly team today.


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