51 Laundry Care Label Symbols Explained

Laundry care labels are those little pieces of fabric that come attached to your clothes.

They usually have a bunch of symbols on them that tell you how to wash and dry.

These care labels can provide helpful instructions on how to wash, dry, iron, and even store your clothes.

Not all clothing is created equal and therefore it’s important to follow the care label instructions to ensure that your clothing lasts as long as possible.

In this guide, we will cover 51 Clothing Care labels along with meaning and explanation.

Here’s what this article covers:

Let’s get started.

What is a Care Label in Fabric?

A Care Label is a small piece of permanent tag or label that is attached to the fabric. It contains the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning the fabric along with caring tips. A typical care label will guide you about the ideal temperature of water and iron to be used on the fabric.

It will also give other valuable information like “Dry Clean Only” or “Do Not Bleach”.

These tiny care labels are usually made of polyester or nylon.

So, In a nutshell, it provides guidelines to the consumer on following the best practices and procedures to clean the fabric along with caring institutions.

And on most care labels you will find the symbols along with their meaning.

Let us take a quick look at the example below for a better understanding of how a care label conveys the instructions.

Care Label 1

The first image is an example of a care instruction on a denim garment made with 99% Cotton and 1% Elastane.

Here’s what this care label indicates.

  • It is suitable for machine washing.
  • Cold water with a normal cycle is recommended.
  • Can be dry cleaned if needed.
  • Warm iron can also be used on this fabric.

Care Label 2

The second image is of a colorful pillow case made up of 100% cotton.

The label indicates the following…

  • Machine wash with gentle cycle.
  • Recommended to separate from dark clothes.
  • Tumble dry on lower settings.
  • Non-Chlorine bleach is preferred.
  • Medium heat iron can be used.

Care Label 3

The third image displays a care label for a regular towel that is made from 100% cotton material.

Here’s what the care label indicates.

  • Machine wash can be done using cold water.
  • Bleach and Iron are not recommended.
  • Dry cleaning can be done.
  • Tumble dry normally using a low heat setting.

Care Label 4

The fourth image is of a T-Shirt that includes a mixed material i.e. 51% Cotton, 40% Polyester, and 6% Viscose.

And here’s what the care label indicates.

  • Machine wash using warm water up to a maximum temperature of 40ºC or 105ºF.
  • Do not mix with dark-colored fabrics.
  • Bleach is not recommended.
  • Tumble dry with a low setting.
  • Low heat is recommended to use iron.

Why do the manufacturers add care labels on the fabrics?

As a safety precautionary measure, the manufacturers tag these labels on the garments to make sure you follow proper instructions while washing, drying, dry cleaning, ironing, or steam ironing your fabrics.

It also makes you aware of the fabric material that your clothes are made up of. 

Not all the fabrics are made the same, they should be treated and maintained according to the type of fabric.

Neglecting the care labels may damage the fabric and, in some cases, may also lead to skin irritation.

Therefore, it is always advised to go through the care label before washing or ironing.

Furthermore, the textile industry is a growing business and with the increase in competition, it has become very important for the manufacturers to provide quality products to the consumers.

A care label is one of the ways to show that the manufacturer is concerned about the quality of their product.

It also protects the consumers from any misunderstanding that may arise due to the incorrect use of the product.

Where do you find the care label?

The care labels are attached to the inside of your garments and the location may vary, simply turn the clothes inside out to locate the care label. You will be able to find a small tag either sewn on the fabric or printed directly on the garment.

For daily wear like shirts, t-shirts, tops and gowns, suits, etc. the care labels are tagged on the inside and mostly under the collars or the sides.

Towels, bed sheets, pillowcases, etc. will have the care label attached either close to a corner or around the border.

Delicate Fabrics that need special care usually have the care label attached to the outside of the garment.

How do you identify the care label symbols?

The care label symbols are usually of rectangular, square, or round shapes with a clear meaning and explanation.

Sometimes, labels are directly printed on t-shirts OR other fabrics, which can be easily understood.

The different shapes on the care labels indicate the different instructions that you need to follow while washing or taking care of the fabric.

The most common symbols that you will find on a care label are:

  • Washing Symbols
  • Drying Symbols
  • Ironing Symbols
  • Bleaching Symbols
  • Dry Cleaning Symbols

Let’s take a quick look at 51 Laundry Care symbols and decode them through the table below:

SymbolMeaning & Description
Normal machine washA bucket filled with water means “Normal Machine Wash”. This particular symbol gives you a clear indication that your fabric is suitable to wash in a washing machine and can be washed with the Normal-Wash cycle.
hand washA bucket filled with water along with a hand means “Hand Wash”. The fabric is suitable for gentle hand washing.
A Cross mark on the bucket filled with water means “Do Not Wash”. The fabric is not suitable for a machine wash. Possibly your garment is suitable for dry cleaning, therefore it contains the care label with a ‘Do not Wash’ symbol.
machine wash - Permanent pressA single bar beneath the bucket filled with water means “Machine Wash – Permanent Press”. This symbol indicates that your fabric is suitable for the Synthetics wash cycle or clean with a reduced spin speed. Such fabrics are chemically treated to reduce wrinkles and do not require ironing.
Machine wash - delicate or gentle2 bars beneath the Water-filled bucket mean “Machine Wash – Delicate or Gentle”. The dual bar beneath the water-filled bucket indicates that the fabric is ideal for a delicate cycle or gentle washing.
machine wash using cold waterIf a water-filled bucket has either a single dot or 30ºC it means “Machine Wash using Cold Water” These fabrics are suitable to wash using the cold water cycle with the temperature exceeding no more than 30ºC or 80ºF.
Machine wash using warm waterIf the water-filled bucket has either 2 dots or 40ºC, it means “Machine Wash using Warm Water”. 2 dots or a temperature of 40ºC means the fabric should be washed using warm water with a maximum temperature of 40ºC or 105ºF.
Machine wash using hot waterIf the water-filled bucket has either 3 dots or 50ºC, it means “Machine Wash using Hot Water”. You can set a maximum temperature of 50ºC or 120ºF for such fabric types.
Machine wash using hot water at 60CIf the water-filled bucket has either 4 dots or 60ºC, it means “Machine Wash using Hot Water”. You can set the maximum water temperature of 60ºC or 140ºF for these fabrics.
Machine wash using hot water - High TemperatureThe water-filled bucket with 5 dots or 70ºC means “Machine Wash using Hotter Water”.
Machine wash using hot water - extreme temperatureThe water-filled bucket with 6 dots or 95ºC means “Machine Wash using Hottest Water”. You can set the maximum temperature to 95ºC or 200ºF. White cotton fabrics, towels, etc. can be washed using the hottest water cycles in your washer. Simply refer to the care label.
Do not wringA Cross mark on the twisted garment means “Do not Wring”. This symbol suggests not to squeeze your garments for releasing water, instead, air dry or simply lay them flat for drying. Likewise, if there is no cross mark, it means the clothes can be wrung.
bleach washAn empty triangle means “Bleach Wash”. Triangular symbols are also known as bleaching symbols and the empty triangle symbol suggests your fabric is suitable to wash using a bleaching solution.
chlorine bleach washA triangle with a ‘cl’ stands for Chlorine, it simply means “Chlorine Bleach Wash”. Fabrics are suitable for bleaching that contains chlorine properties.
non chlorine bleach washTwo diagonal lines within the triangle OR a Cross mark on the triangle with ‘cl’ means “Non-Chlorine Bleach Wash”. It means that the fabric is not suitable for bleaching solutions that contain chlorine properties. You may use a bleaching solution that only contains color-safe properties.
do not bleachA black triangle with a cross mark OR an Empty triangle marked with a cross means “Do Not Bleach”. It indicates that the fabrics are not suitable to wash using a bleaching solution, for example, delicate fabrics such as wool, silk, spandex, mohair or leather, etc.
suitable for machine dryingA blank square indicates that your garments are suitable for machine drying.
Tumble DryA circle inside the square means “Tumble Dry”. Fabrics with such symbols can be tumble-dried in a dryer.
Tumble Dry - Permanent pressA circle inside the square with a single bar beneath means “Tumble dry – Permanent Press”. This symbol is dedicated to dryer settings, Synthetic or Permanent Press should be used for such fabric types.
Tumble Dry - Delicates or gentle2 bars beneath the square with a circle inside mean “Tumble dry – Delicates or Gentle”. Delicate fabrics should be dried using delicates or gentle dry settings.
Normal OR Tumble DryA black circle inside the square means “Normal or Tumble dry without Heat”. Do not use heat to dry such fabric types.
Normal OR Tumble dry with low heatA single dot inside the circle within a square means “Normal or Tumble dry with low Heat”. This type of fabric should be dried using a low heat dry cycle.
Normal OR Tumble Dry with medium heat2 dots inside the circle within a square means “Normal or Tumble dry with medium Heat”. During the dry cycle, the heat type can be selected to medium heat.
Normal OR Tumble Dry with High Heat3 dots inside the circle within a square means “Normal or Tumble dry with high Heat”.This symbol indicates that the fabric can be machine dried using high heat settings.
Do not tumble dryCross mark over the circle and square means “Do not tumble dry”. The meaning suggests do not tumble dry the fabrics labeled with this symbol.
Do not DryA blank square with a cross mark means “Do not dry”. This symbol means you should not machine dry such fabrics.
drip dry3 vertical lines inside the square mean “Drip Dry”. The drip drying symbol suggests you dry the garments by hanging them. Simply dry the wet dripping garment using a drying rack.
Dry in the shade2 diagonal lines on the top left corner of a square mean “Dry in the Shade”. This simply means that do not dry these fabrics under direct sunlight.
air dryA symbol similar to an envelope means “Air Dry”. Simply hang the clothes to air-dry them instead of machine drying. Alternatively, you may hang them on a dryer rack.
flat dryA square with a single horizontal bar inside means “Flat dry”. This symbol means that the fabric should be dried by laying them on a flat surface.
dry clean onlyA blank circle means “Dry Clean Only”. Symbols with circles indicate that you should dry clean the fabrics. This means you can only dry clean the particular garment and avoid washing it in your washer.
do not dry cleanA circle with a cross mark means “Do not Dry Clean”. Do not attempt to dry clean the fabrics that contain this symbol on the care label.
any solventThe letter ‘A’ inside a circle means “Any Solvent”. This symbol indicates that the fabric can be dry cleaned using any type of solvent.
any solvent except tetrachilorethyleneLetter ‘P’ inside the circle means “Any Solvent Except Tetrachilorethylene”. You can Dry clean your fabrics using any solvents except Tetrachilorethylene chemical compounds.
any solvent except tetrachilorethylene for delicates onlyA Single bar beneath the circle with the letter ‘P’ means “Any Solvent except Tetrachilorethylene” for delicates only. Dry clean fabrics using delicate settings with any solvent except Tetrachilorethylene. More the bars beneath the circle indicates more precautions in the dry clean process.
Petroleum solventThe letter ‘F’ inside the circle means “Petroleum Solvents”. Only petroleum solvents should be used in the dry clean process.
Petroleum solvents for delicatesA Single bar beneath the circle with the letter ‘F’ means “Petroleum Solvents for delicates”. Dry clean with delicate settings using Petroleum Solvents only. If you see 2 bars beneath it indicates very delicate.
wet cleanThe letter ‘W’ inside the circle means “Wet Clean”. This type of fabric should be wet cleaned and a bar or 2 beneath the symbol indicates the delicacy of the fabric type.
short cycleA line at the bottom left corner outside the Circle means “Short cycle”. Shorter dry clean cycles are preferred for these fabric types.
reduce moistureA line at the top right corner, outside the Circle, means “Reduce Moisture. The fabrics should be dry cleaned with reduced moisture.
low heatA line at the top left corner, outside the circle, means “Low Heat”. Low heat is recommended in the dry clean process.
No Steam finishingA line at the bottom right corner, outside the circle, means “No steam finishing”. This symbol suggests you avoid using the steam finishing setting during the dry cycle.
Iron - steam and dryIron means “Iron both Steam & Dry with Any temperature”. The fabric is suitable for any temperature such as low, medium, and high heat, also it can be used with or without steam.
Do not IronIron with a cross mark means “Do not Iron”. Do not iron the fabrics as they can be easily damaged with heat.
iron with low heatA single dot on IronIron means “Iron with Low heat”. The maximum temperature with a single dot can be up to 110ºC or 230ºF.
2 dots on Iron means “Iron with Medium heat”. With 2 dots the maximum temperature may be up to 150ºC or 300ºF.
Iron with high heat3 dots on Iron means “Iron with High heat”. The maximum temperature can be up to 200ºC or 390ºF.
Steam IronIron with three lines beneath means “Steam Iron”. You can use steam Iron on such types of fabric.
do not steamA cross mark on Iron with three lines beneath means “Do not Steam”. These symbols are meant for Iron-only fabrics that do not recommend using steam.

Final Thoughts

Laundry Care labels are attached for your benefit, hence make use of them.

“To avoid wear and tear simply Wear and care” and this is only possible if you are cautious about your laundry.

We hope this article was helpful in decoding the Laundry Care symbols for you.

Now that you know what they mean, don’t forget to follow the instructions mentioned on the label.

Happy Laundering! : )

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about Laundry Care labels.

Can I use Iron on my wet clothes?

It is not recommended to Iron dry a wet garment because it may damage the fabric quality. Check if the garment care label suggests ironing or steam ironing. If it has the steam Iron symbol on the fabric, you may use the low heat settings to iron the fabric.

What are the 5 basic care symbols?

The 5 basic care symbols that you will find on Laundry Care labels are Washing symbols (Washtub filled with water), Drying symbols (Square), Ironing symbols (Will have Iron symbol), Bleaching symbols (Triangle), and Dry Cleaning symbols (Circle).

Manish Singh is an expert in electrical engineering with a Diploma in the field. With over 12 years of experience, he specializes in repairing music systems, washing machines, dryers, and other laundry-related appliances. His in-depth knowledge in electrical repairs and decent knowledge about garment care makes him a trusted authority in the field of appliance repair and laundry related topics. If you have any questions or need assistance with your appliances, you can reach out to Manish through email: manish.singh (at) portablelaundry.com