An Easy Guide to Understanding Wash Care Symbols on your Garment

No matter how long you’ve been doing laundry, chances are you get confused with the wash care symbols! Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!


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Guide to Wash Care Symbols on your Clothes
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Wash care symbols are signs that appear on the care label of our clothes. These signs give us information on how the garment should be washed, dried and ironed. Understanding the wash care symbols is the key to making our clothes last longer. For example, using hot water to wash your silk can ruin it forever. That’s why; we all need to be able to understand the basic washing symbols. 

These symbols may appear like an all-new language. But it isn’t that complicated. Once you begin to pay close attention to the symbols, you’ll notice that they are self-explanatory. It is important to read the instructions on the care label to be able to take care of your clothes. 

The wash-care symbols cover a range of small icons that explain requirements for washing, drying, ironing, dry cleaning and bleaching. Let’s understand each of these subsets. 

Checking care labels is the first and most important step in clothing care. Delicate garments made from silk, wool and cotton require extra care and using a mild detergent can work wonders. We recommend Love and Care, which is available in the market.

Washing Symbols

Washing Symbols
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Knowing how to read the wash care label will enable you to set the wash cycle and water temperature of the washing machine correctly. It is vital to set the optimum temperature of the water as too hot or too cold water can damage the fabric and shape of your garments. 

To keep your clothes in great condition, it is equally important to use an effective detergent. If you use a washing machine to wash your clothes, then along with the right temperature, using the right detergent is also important. Always use a machine specialist detergent like Surf Excel Matic Liquid. 

Here are some basic washing symbols: 

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1) Bucket Filled with Water

This means a normal machine or hand wash where the garment can be washed at any temperature with detergent or soap.

2) Bucket with 1 Dot

This indicates that while washing, you must not exceed the specified temperature.

3) Hand Symbol Inside a Bucket

This means the clothing should be hand washed.

Ironing Symbols

Wash Care Symbols - Ironing Symbols

You have a new dress or shirt that you want to wear for your next outing, but you don’t know how to iron it. Look at the ironing symbol on the care label and follow the instructions accordingly. It is important to adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions because using a hot iron on a delicate fabric can damage it. Sometimes, you do not need to iron the garment; running steam is enough to dissolve the wrinkles on it. 

Here are some basic ironing symbols and what they mean:

1) Iron Symbol

This means the clothing can be regularly ironed at any temperature.

2) Iron Symbol with 1 Dot

This means you can only iron and steam the garment at low settings (110°C / 200F).

3) Iron Symbol with 2 Dots

This means you can perform ironing up to a medium temperature (150°C / 300F).

4) Iron Symbol with 3 Dots

This means you can iron, dry or steam the item up to a high temperature (200°C / 350F).

5) A Crossed-Out Iron

This means ironing shouldn’t be attempted.

Drying Symbols

Wash Care Symbols - Drying Symbols

We have all heard of a laundry disaster where a new cashmere sweater came out shrunk. You can avoid experiencing it by knowing which garments are suitable to be put in the dryer. Please note that drying is a very important part of clothing care. The heat from the dryer can also cause your garments to fade. So, it is important to read and understand the washing machine symbols correctly. 

1) Square with Circle

It means that tumble drying is allowed. There are some variations in the tumble-drying technique which you must keep in mind. 

2) A Tumble Dryer with Dots

This means that a machine dryer must be used at a low heat setting, 2 dots suggests using a machine dryer up to a medium setting, and 3 dots is up to a high setting.

3) A Black Circle in the Middle

This means that regular drying can only be performed on the ‘No Heat’ or ‘Air Only’ settings.

4) A Crossed-Out Tumble Dryer

This means the clothing can’t be tumble dried.

5) Square with Inward Arc at Top

This means that the garment should be hung on the clothesline for drying.  

6) Square with Horizontal Line in the Middle

This means that the garment should be laid out on a flat surface for drying. 

7) Crossed Out Twisted Symbol

This means that your garment should not be wrung to remove excess moisture. It is mostly recommended for delicate clothes like your silk sarees. Such garments should be wrapped in a dry towel and pressed gently. 

Dry Cleaning Symbols

Wash Care Symbols - Dry Cleaning Symbols

Some garments cannot be washed at home. It is best to leave the job to professional dry cleaners. In many cases some garments might need dry cleaning for only the first wash. Read the instructions on the care label to get a clear understanding. 

Here’s how to read the dry-cleaning symbols 

1) Circle Symbol

This means that the item can be dry cleaned.

2) A Crossed-Out Circle

This means that it can’t be dry cleaned.  

Bleaching Symbols

Wash Care Symbols - Bleaching Symbols

It is important to understand how bleach works on different fabrics. Hence, always check the care label instructions on your clothes before using bleach or a non-chlorine based bleaching agent. If the instructions allow bleach to be used, you can use Rin Ala, which is a fabric whitener. Understanding bleaching symbols on the care tag is simple and can guide you effectively. 

Here’s how to read bleaching symbols 

1) A Triangle

This means that bleaching the garment is allowed. 

2) A Crossed-out Triangle

This means that you cannot bleach the garment.

3) A Triangle with Two Lines Inside

This means that a non-chlorine bleach can be used.

Wash care symbols on clothing labels give you information with regards to the accurate temperature as well as the right way of washing the particular garment. Hence, wash care symbols may be thought of as guidelines for enhancing the lifespan of clothes!

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Frequently asked questions on wash care symbols

How do I know which wash care symbols apply to my garment?

Wash care symbols are typically found on the label or tag of the garment. Look for a small tag on the inside of the clothing that lists the washing instructions and includes the wash care symbols.

What happens if I ignore the wash care symbols and clean the garment incorrectly?

Ignoring the wash care symbols and cleaning the garment incorrectly can lead to damage or shrinking of the fabric, fading of colors, or other issues. It's important to follow the care instructions to ensure the longevity of the garment.

Can I still clean a garment if the wash care symbols are missing or unclear?

If the wash care symbols are missing or unclear, it's best to err on the side of caution and assume that the garment requires delicate care. Hand-washing and air-drying are typically safe options for delicate garments, even if the care instructions are unclear.

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