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How to read laundry care symbols

6 minute read |

Understanding laundry care symbols is essential for keeping your clothes looking and feeling new for longer. However, these symbols can often seem like a foreign language, leading to confusion and mistakes in garment care.  


This article aims to discover the
meaning of laundry care symbols, making it easier for you to follow the recommended care instructions and ensure your clothing stays in great condition for years to come. 

The first step in laundry care: Understanding a clothing label


The journey towards better laundry care begins at the clothing label. This small tag, usually found on the inside of the garment at the neck or along the side seam, holds essential information to preserve the fabric's integrity and appearance.


The first step in laundry care: Understanding a clothing label

With that in mind, here’s what to do for effective garment care:

1. Locate the label: Typically found on the inside of the garment at the neck or along the side seam.
2. Identify symbols: Look for symbols indicating washing, drying, ironing, bleaching, and professional care instructions.
3. Deciphering symbols: Familiarize with basic symbols: a tub for washing, a triangle for bleaching, a square for drying, an iron for ironing, and a circle for professional cleaning.
4. Follow instructions: Adhere to the indicated care guidelines to maintain garment quality and longevity.

The importance of understanding laundry care symbols


Understanding and following laundry care symbols is a step towards both environmental responsibility and economic savings, promoting a thoughtful approach to garment care.


That said, just a simple act of adhering to laundry care instructions can ripple into broader positive impacts, both for our wallets and the planet. Here’s how:

  • Water and energy efficiency: Using correct washing settings minimises water and energy consumption, aligning with eco-friendly practices.
  • Reduced clothing demand: Prolonging garment life curtails the constant need for new clothing, decreasing production demands and environmental impact.
  • Recycling and reselling: Understanding care symbols can lead to better maintenance, allowing for clothing donation or resale instead of disposal.
  • Long-term savings: Reduced need for replacements and lower energy bills culminate in notable savings over time.
  • Value retention: Proper care maintains the aesthetics and functionality of garments, especially high-quality or designer pieces, preserving their value and extending their usability.

How to read laundry care symbols on clothing labels


As mentioned, understanding the laundry symbols and instructions lays the foundation for effective garment care, guiding us towards practices that extend the life and look of our attire.


Let’s begin with the most common symbols:

How to read washing instruction symbols


Hand washing symbols

How to read washing instruction symbols


Knowing the meaning of hand washing symbols on your clothing labels is essential for the proper care of delicate or hand-wash only items. These symbols indicate whether a garment is suitable for hand washing and at what temperature, ensuring that you clean your clothes without risking damage.

Hand Washing Symbols

  • A tub symbol with a hand denotes hand washing or delicate cycle at 40°C/104°F or lower, ideal for delicate items like cashmere or silk.
  • A twisted symbol indicates the item can be wrung.
  • A crossed-out twisted symbol advises against wringing the item.

Synthetic washing symbols


Synthetic Washing Symbols


Understanding synthetic washing symbols is key when it comes to caring for garments made from synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon.

Synthetic Washing Symbols
  • A tub symbol signifies machine washing, with the number indicating the maximum temperature.
  • Bars under the tub relate to spin and rinse adjustments:
○ No bar: Normal spin and rinse.
○ 1 bar: Reduced spin speed.
○ 2 bars: Mild wash, normal spin and rinse.
  • Numbers on a washtub symbolise different water temperatures for washing:
○ 30 represents a wash with cold water
○ 40 signifies a wash with warm water
○ 50 means a wash with hot water, all measured in degrees Celsius.
  • A crossed-out tub symbol means the item should not be machine washed.


Read more:
How to use a washing machine properly.

How to read bleaching symbols


Bleaching symbols on clothing labels give crucial instructions for bleaching the fabric. They inform whether bleaching is safe and, if so, which type of bleach is appropriate to avoid damage.


How to read bleaching symbols

  • A plain triangle indicates that all types of bleach are permissible.
  • A plain triangle with CL also indicates chlorine bleach is permissible.
  • A triangle with two diagonal lines signifies that only non-chlorine (oxygen-based) bleach is suitable.
  • A triangle crossed with an X means that no bleach should be used.


Read more laundry tips here:

  • How to make white shirt white again
  • How to wash dark clothes

How to read dry cleaning symbols


Dry cleaning symbols provide specific instructions on whether a piece requires dry cleaning and how to do it safely without causing any damage.

How to read dry cleaning symbols
  • A small circle on the care label denotes a requirement for dry cleaning.
  • A letter within the circle guides the dry cleaner on the chemical to utilise.
○ A = Any solvent
○ F = Any solvent except Trichloroethylene
○ P = Petroleum solvents only
○ Additional bars under the circle signify the level of care the dry cleaner should exercise.
  • A crossed-out circle advises against dry cleaning the item.

How to read ironing symbols


Decoding laundry symbols is crucial to ensure your clothes get the right treatment, especially when it comes to ironing. Some fabrics can handle hot iron, while delicate ones might get damaged.

How to read ironing symbols

  • An iron symbol with no dots allows ironing at any temperature.
  • Dots on the iron symbol indicate heat levels:
○ 1 dot: for delicates like silk and wool.
○ 2 dots: for synthetics.
○ 3 dots: for linen and cotton.
  • A crossed-out iron symbol means the item should not be ironed.

How to read drying symbols


Understanding drying symbols on your clothing labels is key to ensuring your clothes get the proper drying treatment in your dryer.


Using the wrong dryer setting could shrink or even damage your clothes beyond repair. By getting familiar with drying symbols, you'll be better equipped to keep your favourite garments in top-notch condition and avoid any laundry mishaps.

How to read drying symbols

  • A circle inside a square on the care label signifies tumble drying is allowed.
  • Dots within the symbol indicate temperature settings:
○ 1 dot: low temperature.
○ 2 dots: medium temperature.
○ 3 dots: high temperature.
  • A crossed-out tumble dry symbol advises against tumble drying the item.

Optimising laundry care with Electrolux washing machines


Laundry symbols are your guide to optimal laundry care. Following the recommended washing machine settings and cycles as indicated by these symbols, you can ensure your clothes receive the care they deserve. This not only extends their lifespan but also maintains the longevity of your fabrics.


Electrolux washing machines, with their array of customised wash cycles and innovative features, provide the flexibility and care required to adhere to these laundry guidelines.


By understanding laundry symbols and leveraging the advanced functionalities of Electrolux washing machines, you can ensure your clothes remain lint-free, vibrant, and in excellent condition for years to come.


Discover our range of washing machines below:

  • No more visible detergent residue with UltraMix*.
  • HygienicCare removes 99.9% allergens and germs*.
  • EcoInverter motor uses 50% less energy*.
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  • No more visible detergent residue with UltraMix*.
  • HygienicCare removes 99.9% allergens and germs*.
  • EcoInverter motor uses 50% less energy*.
Learn More
Discover now
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