Laundry Day Made Easy: A Guide to Laundry Symbols

laundry symbols

Laundry day is overwhelming enough; now you have to contend with these strange symbols on all the tags of your clothes. These laundry symbols provide you with important information about the proper way to care for your laundry. Even if you’re a laundry veteran, you might be wondering what these symbols mean. Here we’ll give you a complete guide to laundry symbols to make sure your clothes stay in tip-top condition.

Washing Symbols

Machine Wash

This symbol looks like a little basin filled with water. The number inside tells you the maximum water temperature you can use for that item. If there is one line underneath the basin, it means you need to use a gentle cycle. Two lines mean you need to use an extra gentle or delicate cycle.

Hand Wash

When you see a hand in the wash basin, it means you should hand wash the garment. The label may also provide instructions like “do not wring” or “use cold water.”

Do Not Wash

A crossed-out wash bin tells you not to wash the item at all. It may be dry-clean only.

Bleaching Symbols


A triangle inside a square tells you whether you can use bleach. An empty triangle means any type of bleach is safe to use, while a triangle with diagonal lines means only non-chlorine bleach can be used.

Do Not Bleach

A crossed-out triangle means you should not use any type of bleach on the garment.

Drying Symbols

Tumble Dry

A circle inside a square shows the drying process. The dots inside the circle indicate the heat level. One dot is low heat, two dots are medium heat, and three dots are high heat.

Line Dry

A straight line means the item should be hung to dry on a clothesline.

Do Not Dry

A crossed-out circle or square means the item should not be dried in a machine. It may need to be laid flat to dry.

Ironing Symbols


An iron symbol with dots inside indicates the appropriate ironing temperature. One dot is low, two dots are medium, and three dots are high heat.

Do Not Iron

A crossed-out iron means you should avoid ironing the garment.

Dry Cleaning Symbols

Dry Clean Only

The symbol typically looks like a circle, sometimes with a letter or letters inside. This indicates that the item should be professionally dry-cleaned.

Do Not Dry Clean

A crossed-out circle means you should not dry-clean the item.

Additional Instructions

Some laundry symbols come with extra information like “delicate cycle,” “use mild detergent,” “wash with like colors,” or “wash inside out.” Pay attention to these additional instructions for the best results.

Laundry symbols are initially difficult to understand for everyone. However, once you get the code down, you’ll have important information that’ll help your clothes and other laundry items stay in their best shape for a long time. Using the right laundry care will make your clothes last longer and look better. Ignoring these symbols can lead to shrinking clothes, faded colors, or pilling. So, next time you get ready to do your laundry, take a few extra minutes to look at the instructions. It’s a small effort that goes a long way in extending the life of your wardrobe and keeping your clothes looking their best.

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