Like any other product label, wash care symbols or wash care labels tell us a lot about the fabric of our clothes. At the very first look, they might seem like alien equations but they are easy to understand if you have some knowledge about reading cloth labels. The clothing brands provide important information about the fabric and the instructions to handle the clothes through the wash care symbols.

This information is crucial when it comes to the longevity of your clothes. If you are throwing your favourite clothes in the washing machine without even taking a look at the labels, you might end up damaging them. Therefore, you must have some knowledge about how wash care symbols and instructions work. Here is a complete list of wash care icons and their meaning:

Wash care symbols explained:

Dry cleaning symbols:

Dry wash care symbols tell us whether the clothes need expert hands for proper cleaning. If the label carries a small circle then the garment needs dry cleaning. The circle can also carry letters to signify what kind of solvent should be used in the dry cleaning process. The letters A, P and F indicate any solvent, petroleum solvent, and any solvent except trichloroethylene respectively. A cross over the circle indicates that the cloth is not for dry cleaning.

For the proper handling of delicate clothes by the dry cleaners, the bands also offer additional care instructions. If you’ll be dry cleaning at home, make sure you understand these symbols well. A circle and a straight line on the southwest corner means the cloth needs a short cycle. The straight line on the northwest corner indicates the dry cleaner should reduce the moisture. The line on the southeast corner means the dry cleaning requires low heat and on the northeast corner, it signifies that the cloth does not need steam finishing.

Ironing symbols:

Iron symbols on the cloth labels carry the instructions for ironing the particular fabric. This piece of information is crucial as ironing the wrong material at the wrong temperature can damage your clothes. A simple iron symbol signifies that the cloth can be ironed at any temperature. The dots in the iron symbol dictate the ideal temperature of ironing the clothes. One dot is for delicate fabric like wool and silk. It means the temperature should not cross 100C. Similarly, two dots mean the maximum temperature can be 150C, and it is for synthetics; three dots is for linen and cotton clothing, and the maximum temperature for them is 200C.

A cross over the iron symbol means iron is not allowed. If two or three lines are shooting out from the bottom of the iron symbol, it signifies steaming is allowed whereas, a cross over that symbol indicates steaming is prohibited for the fabric.

Bleaching care symbols:

Bleaching agents can damage certain fabrics therefore, you should always look for wash care symbols for bleaching on the cloth labels. A triangle means the piece of cloth can handle bleaching. If there are diagonal lines inside the triangle, it signifies that you should only use non-chlorine bleach on that piece of clothing. You should not use bleach on the clothing item if there is a cross over the triangle.

Drying symbols:

Drying symbols tell you about the correct procedure of drying a particular cloth material as a suboptimal drying method can shorten the lifespan of the clothes. A square with a circle inside it indicates that you can apply tumble dry. The dots inside this symbol are for giving information about the temperature. One dot means tumble dry in low temperature, and two dots are for tumble dry in high heat. A cross over this symbol prohibits tumble drying. 

A square with three vertical lines refers to the drip drying method, and a single horizontal line inside the square means you should dry the cloth flat. A drooping line is for hand drying. You should dry the clothes under a shade if any of the squares have two diagonal lines.

Hand washing symbols:

The companies also put information about hand-washing to help the customers with safe wash. A tub of water means the cloth is machine washable, and a tub with a hand is for hand-washable clothes. The numbers inside the bucket symbol indicate the maximum temperature. A line under the bucket symbol is for a permanent press, and two lines make it a symbol for a delicate cycle. You should not wash the garment if it comes with a cross over bucket symbol. At the same time, the item can be wrung if there is a twisted symbol.


Googling “wash care symbols meaning” is very common among people as very few of us properly understand the wash care symbols. Decoding them is not hard if you have adequate knowledge and it enables you to wash your favourite clothes safely.


  1. How important are wash care symbols?

Clothing brands put labels with wash care symbols at the corner of their clothing items for a reason. These symbols are instructions for handling the clothes during laundry. They dictate the right way of washing, drying or ironing them which promotes safe wash and longevity of the clothes. Therefore, you should always pay attention to them before trying any laundry method on the clothes.  

  • How should I choose a bleaching agent for my clothes?

Harsh bleaching agents can damage the delicate fabric so the clothing manufacturers use wash care symbols to give information about that. Look for a triangle in the labels. If there is a simple triangle then you can use any bleaching agent. If there are diagonal lines inside the triangle then you should only use non-chlorine bleaching agents. However, a cross over the triangle means the cloth is not meant to be bleached.

  • Should I dry my clothes in the shade?

Direct sunlight can damage and fade your clothes. Therefore, it is a good idea to shade dry clothes, especially delicate fabric. The squares in the cloth labels indicate the drying method. If the square has two diagonal lines inside it, it symbolizes that you should shade dry the clothing item.