What do the washing symbols on the fabric mean?

Meaning of the different washing symbols

There are five basic symbols on all textile labels that inform us about the washing, drying and ironing requirements of the garment. These symbols contain indications for both domestic and professional washing and the possible use of bleaching agents. Each label shows a group of symbols following this scheme:

washing-bleaching-drying-ironing-professional care

Washing symbols

The washing symbol gives information on whether the garment can be machine washed and indicates the proper temperature. The number on the water container shows the maximum washing temperature in degrees Celsius. This temperature should not be exceeded if you want keep the garment in good condition.

The crossed out symbol indicates that this garment should not be washed at home, but rather to a dry cleaner for professional care. If the symbol is the hand wash symbol, it means that the garment should be washed by hand rather than in the washing machine.

There are some variants of the common washing symbol. For example, if a bar is drawn under the water container, it means that the garment should be washed in a gentle cycle. Your washing machine should be set with the gentle cycle and the amount of laundry should be reduced for the wash.

If there are two bars under the water container, a special wash program should be selected. Some washing machine models have such special programmes. If they are not available, it is recommended to wash by hand. If you're unable to clean the garment by hand, it should be taken to the cleaners for professional care.

Bleaching symbols

The second symbol on the label, the triangle, indicates whether or not the garment can be bleached. Almost all powder detergents contain bleaching products that make the unsightly discoloration of light-coloured fabrics disappear. It is advisable to check the characteristics of the detergent carefully, as not all fabrics should be treated with bleach, especially brightly colored fabrics. When washing these fabrics it is better to use a special detergent for color which does not contain oxygen bleaching agents.

One of the most common mistakes in washing is using the wrong detergent. It is essential to pay attention to the labels on the clothes and the instructions of the detergents we use for washing.

Drying symbols

The square symbol indicates whether a garment can be put in the dryer or whether it should be dried naturally.

If there's a circle inside the square it indicates that the garment can be tumble dried and if the symbol is crossed out, then it is best left to air dry or dry on a hanger.

The number of dots inside of the circle indicates whether the garment is suitable for normal drying (2 dots) or whether it should be dried at a low temperature (1 dot).

Ironing symbols

It is the easiest symbol to recognize and simply shows us if the garment can be ironed or not, as well as the ironing temperature. The more dots that appear inside the iron, the higher the ironing temperature the garment can withstand. Natural fabrics such as cotton and linen can be ironed at a high temperature, as they are very heat-resistant fabrics. Synthetic fibers or mixed fabrics, on the other hand, should be ironed at a low temperature, and sometimes it's even better to avoid ironing all together.

Professional washing symbols

The symbols consisting of a circle with a letter inside indicate which specific product should be used to clean the garment in a professional dry cleaners.

In short, the washing and care symbols on the labels are very important to maintain the quality of the fabrics for the long term. They inform us how to wash, dry and iron our clothes properly. Thanks to these symbols, which are quite easy to understand, they will help us to avoid carelessness and mistakes during the washing process, giving the garment a longer life.