They might look like ancient hieroglyphics, but the laundry symbols on care labels are actually there to help you clean and dry your garments in the most suitable way for each fabric. Follow the instructions those care label symbols provide and your clothing should wash and dry better, and last longer. Fortunately, you don’t need to learn another language to read clothes washing symbols — you just need a handy chart that translates them all into plain English for you. Let us help demystify these cryptic washing label symbols with our guide to each washing symbol’s meaning.

Washing symbols

Wash care symbols are shaped like a tub:

  • Machine washable symbol: Tub with wavy line
  • No machine wash symbol: Tub with cross over it
  • Hand wash symbol: Tub with hand
  • Maximum machine temperature: Number inside the tub (i.e. 30°, 40°)
Washing symbols

Drying symbols

Clothing label symbols relating to tumble-drying and air-drying are shaped like a square:

  • Tumble drying allowed: Square with circle inside
  • No tumble dry symbol: As above, with a cross over it
  • Temperature: One/two/three dots inside circle indicate heat setting (more dots equal higher temperature)
  • Hang dry on line: Square with curved line inside
  • Drip dry on rack: Square with three vertical lines inside
  • Dry flat: Square with horizontal line inside
Drying symbols

Dry cleaning symbols

The laundry care symbols that relate to dry cleaning are circles:

  • Dry cleaning allowed: Circle
  • Do not dry clean symbol: Circle with cross over it
  • Dry clean only symbol: There could be a letter within the circle (i.e. A, F, P), which tells the dry cleaner what solvent to use 

Ironing symbols

Of all the clothing care symbols you’ll come across, the ones about ironing are probably the easiest to recognise. After all, the image actually looks like an iron!

  • Do not iron: Iron with a cross through it
  • Do not steam iron: As above, with lines pointing out of the bottom
  • Iron at any temperature: Empty iron
  • Heat setting: One/two/three dots in iron correspond to iron temperature (more dots equals hotter setting)

Bleach symbols

The washing label instructions that provide information about bleach are shaped like triangles:

  • Do not bleach symbol: Triangle with a cross over it
  • Dilute bleach allowed: Triangle
  • Non-chlorine bleach allowed: Triangle with two diagonal lines inside

Will stains come out without chlorine bleach? Both Vanish Power O2 Multi-action pink liquidfor coloured clothes and Vanish Oxi Advance Crystal White Gel for whites are chlorine bleach free. Plus, the super-boosted Oxi Advance formula not only removes stains but it also brightens colours and eliminate odours too. They’re safe to use on everyday fabrics such as cotton and polyester, plus delicates like silk and wool. Simply follow the instructions on the bottle.

Now you know how to decipher clothing care labels you can look after your garments in the best possible way.

General advice

  • Please refer to the packaging for specific product usage and advice.
  • KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND PETS. Store the product only in the original container and always fasten the lid.
  • Do not expose product to direct sunlight.
  • Before use check for colour fastness by testing a hidden area of the fabric, rug or carpet.
  • For best results it may be necessary to repeat parts of the process.