Laundry symbols seem simple enough. But those lines, dots, and circles can get confusing. Here’s everything you need to know to become a laundry pro.
On more than one occasion, I’ve thrown caution to the wind, ignored the care label on a new knit shirt, and hoped it survived both the washing machine and dryer. But, if I’m being honest, there’s a less rebellious reason behind my decision to disregard the washing instructions — I can’t tell you what any of those boxes, triangles, and squiggles mean. I’m willing to bet I’m not alone.
To help you make sure you’re taking proper care of your shirts, dresses, joggers, pajama sets, and everything in between — they last longer that way — we’re breaking down those confusing laundry care symbols. You’ll never shrink a sweater or ruin a silk skirt again.
Laundry symbols fall into three main categories: washing, drying, ironing, and dry cleaning. Who knew? Here is what the illustrations under each group mean.
Read more: How To Do Your Laundry More Sustainably
- Washing tub with an ‘X’ through it — do not wash
- Washing tub by itself — machine wash
- Washing tub with a hand in it — hand wash
- Washing tub with one line underneath — machine wash, permanent press
- Washing Tub with two lines underneath — machine wash, gentle or delicate
- Washing tub with one dot — cold
- Washing tub with two dots — warm
- Washing tub with three dots — hot
- Washing tub with four dots — very hot
- Triangle — bleach
- Triangle with diagonal lines — non-chlorine bleach
- Triangle with an ‘X” through it — do not bleach
- Square with three vertical lines — drip dry
- Square with two diagonal lines in the upper corner — dry in the shade
- Square with a crescent at the top — hang dry
- Square with a horizontal line through the middle — dry flat
- Square with a clear circle in the middle — tumble dry
- Square with a black circle in the middle — no heat
- Square with a circle and a dot in the middle — low heat
- Square with a circle and two dots in the middle — medium heat
- Square with a circle and three dots in the middle — hight heat
- Square with a circle, one dot in the middle, and a line underneath — permanent press
- Square with a circle, one dot in the middle, and two lines underneath — delicate
- Square with a circle and an ‘X’ through it — do not tumble dry
- Iron with a dot in the middle — low heat
- Iron with two dots in the middle — medium heat
- Iron with three dots in the middle — high heat
- Iron with an ‘X’ through it — do not iron
- Iron with lines at the bottom and an ‘X’ through it — no steam
- Clear circle — dry clean
- Circle with an ‘X’ through it — do not dry clean
- Circle with an ‘A,’ ‘P,’ or ‘F’ in the middle — indicates instructions for dry cleaners
Read more: 4 Green Alternatives to Dry Cleaning
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