Guide to Common Laundry Symbols

No, the tag in your shirt is not in code! The laundry symbols on garment tags are a short hand way of giving detailed cleaning instructions. These universal symbols are intended to convey a lot of information in a small space. Knowing these symbols will help you keep your clothes looking their best.

Basic Laundry Symbols: The Wash Tub
The washtub is the symbol that indicates washing instructions. It looks like a tub or cup with some waves along the top. Detailed washing instruction appear as additions to this symbol:

  • One dot means machine wash in cold water. Two dots mean machine wash in warm water. Three dots mean machine wash in hot water.
  • A single line underneath the washtub means to use the permanent press setting on the washing machine.
  • Two lines underneath the washtub mean to use the gentle setting on the washing machine.
  • A crossed out washtub means do not machine wash.
  • A hand in the washtub means hand wash only.

Basic Laundry Symbols: The Triangle

A triangle is used to indicate bleaching instructions-in Japan, a chemical flask is used. Detailed bleach instructions appear as additions to this symbol:

  • An open triangle means bleach as needed.
  • Two lines within the triangle mean use non-chlorine bleach as needed.
  • A crossed out triangle means do not bleach.

Basic Laundry Symbols: The Square
A square is used to indicate drying instructions. For machine drying, the square will have a large circle inside. Detailed drying instructions appear as additions to this symbol:

  • A solid black circle means tumble-dry with no heat.
  • A single dot means tumble-dry with low heat. Two dots mean tumble dry with medium heat. Three dots mean tumble dry with high heat.
  • A single line underneath the square means to use the permanent press setting on the dryer.
  • Two lines underneath the square mean to use the gentle setting on the dryer.
  • A crossed out rectangle means do not tumble dry.
  • A horizontal curve inside the square means to line dry.
  • Three vertical lines inside the square mean to drip dry.
  • One horizontal line means to dry flat.

Basic Laundry Symbols: The Iron
A stylized iron is used to indicate ironing instructions. Detailed ironing instructions appear as additions to this symbol:

  • A single dot means iron with low heat. Two dots mean iron with medium heat. Three dots mean iron with high heat.
  • An iron with crossed out lines underneath means to avoid steam while ironing.
  • A crossed out iron means do not iron.

Basic Laundry Symbols: The Circle
A circle is used to indicate dry cleaning instructions. Detailed drying instructions appear in this symbol, but are useful only for dry cleaning professionals. A crossed out circle means do not dry clean.

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