Laundry Symbols Explained: The Ultimate Guide

Laundry Symbols Explained: The Ultimate Guide

Although washing machine technology has advanced, we still use symbols on clothing labels in order to associate words or actions with small images. There are so many symbols with so many different meanings that it can be quite hard to keep up with all of them. Even though we see the symbols on our washer and tumble dryer weekly, there are so many that it is understandable if you have trouble remembering (we know we do sometimes!).   

This article will be your guide to every kind of washing symbol you may come into contact with, and what those symbols mean. Consider it your laundry cheat sheet. Read on to get the ultimate guide for laundry symbols.

Do I Really Need To Know What Laundry Symbols Are?

Learning about the appliances that make up your home is extremely important to the overall efficiency of said appliances. If you are buying a new appliance such as a laundry machine, chances are that you will receive a guide that comes with it. There’s a reason for that!

More often than not, in the guide, they will break down each and every part of your appliance. Most people tend to lose or misplace those guides pretty shortly after installation. When you know what these symbols mean off the top of your head, it can help you save time and money, or from accidentally doing something you should not have.

When it comes to laundry, there are a lot of places you can accidentally mess up. From the water temperature of the washing machine to the levels of heat on the dryer, even your iron can ruin a garment before you even knew it was happening. Most of these mishaps can be avoided if you know what to do and not do, or more so what to look out for and what buttons to push and not to push — literally!

Laundry Symbols Guide: Clothing Care Instructions Made Easy

If you take a look at the tags of your bedsheets, or that shirt you have owned for years, you will find that each tag has these symbols. Although they coincide with the machines themself, they are really there in order to let you know what you should and should not do with that item.

The tags of your bedding will always let you know whether they are machine washable, what maximum temperature you should use, and if you can use high-temperature tools on them.

With that being said, here are what we consider to be the five most common and important symbols you will see during your laundry experience.

What Do Laundry Symbols Mean: The Water Cup

This symbol quite literally looks like a little cup of water filled about halfway with water. You will see this symbol on most tags, but all it means is that you can wash it in a washer. You can throw it in a wash cycle in the laundry room without having to worry if the fabric will tear or shrink in size.

X’d Out Water Cup: Do Not Wash

On the other side of the water cup is the same symbol, but with a giant X through the cup. This means that you should try to hand wash the item in a washtub because putting it into the washing machine could potentially ruin the fabric. Some fabrics are more durable than others, but unfortunately, most people do not find that out until it is too late (don’t worry; we’ve all been there).

The Triangles: Bleaching Symbols

The easiest way to remember what the triangle represents on your tags is to associate it with bleach. If you see a triangle that has nothing inside of it, this means that you can use any kind of bleach when washing the item. However, if you see a triangle with two to three lines through it, then that means you must only use non-chlorine bleach as needed.

Make sure you pay attention to what your bleach is made up of in order to avoid making any permanent stains. If you ever see a blackened triangle with an X through it then make sure you never use any kind of bleach when washing the item, or it could mean disaster for your clothes!

Washing Machine Symbols: The Squares

The same cheat code can be used when trying to remember what squares represent. When you see a square, just remember the word “dry” because it has everything to do with the drying portion of the laundry process.

If you see a square with a circle inside of it then that is your normal drying cycle. If you see the same symbol with one line under the square, then that means it is a permanent press. Thirdly, if you again see the same symbol, but with two lines underneath the square, then that refers to the delicate or gentle setting on your dryer.

If you see any of the previous squares with an X through it, this is the do not tumble dry symbol. Make sure that you do not tumble dry that item. Although they are rare, you will see squares with what seems like a half circle at the top which means you can line-dry the item. If you see a square with three vertical lines, that means drip dry, and one singular horizontal line means that you can dry it flat.

Last but not least, a square with two lines in the upper lefthand corner means that you should dry it in the shade (since direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time could potentially fade the fabric). So many squares, so little time!

Washing Instructions for the Circles on Care Tags

Circles are dry-cleaning symbols. A circle indicates dry-clean-only fabric care If you see a circle crossed out, then make sure you do not get it dry-cleaned. Letters APF are used inside the circle to indicate the following: A means you can use any solvent, P means any solvent except those that have trichloroethylene in it, and F means that you should only be using petroleum solvent.

The Bottom Line on Laundry Care Symbols

When it comes to laundry, the washing machine is where it all started. The basic model of washboards that we all know (and don’t really love), has been transformed over the years into the modern day washing machine. We’ve become technologically advanced when it comes to home appliances, so much so that we use washing machines in more than 80% of households across the United States. However, it is not just America that has a high user percentage, but also the UK.

Without these statistics, we wouldn’t be able to see numeral figures of just how much water we use during a single full washing load.

Here at Ocoza, we like to give you a friendly reminder that you should not only be focusing on the well-being of your appliances, but of the planet you live on as well. We hope and work for a sustainable world and suggest washing at 30 degrees in order to save energy.



A Consumer Economy | US History

Washing Machines: Statistics & Facts | Statista 

Care Label Symbols | Tennessee University

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