Everything you need to know about Wash Care Symbols

Clothing needs to be maintained in a proper way to achieve longevity. Washing the apparel, the right way ensures the long life of the garment. You must have noticed washing instructions on several garments in the form of symbols. It is simple to decode the symbols and understand the right way to wash the clothing. Often the wrong washing regime either fades the colour of the cloth or damages its quality. But if you understand and follow the wash care symbols marked in the garment you will have a long association with your favourite piece.

The other name for wash care symbols is laundry symbols. Not understanding the symbols of wash care marked on the clothing results in fading, tearing, or damaging the apparel.

Sometimes, you may have paid a bomb price for the garment that you proudly own. But following wrong washing tips will strip off the goodness from your favourite piece of cloth. If you think that buying a cheaper product will solve your problem then you are sadly mistaken. But a conscious amendment in your washing pattern/regime does make a sea of difference in the good maintenance of the cloth.

So, here we are discussing a few common wash care symbols that will help you maintain a long association with the clothing.

The best tip

Follow the 4-tip regime for clothing and see a marked difference.

  1. Wash
  2. Bleach
  3. Dry
  4. Iron

Yes, following the right pattern of washing followed by drying the garment and finally finishing the process with proper ironing procedure will help you associate longer with the contents of your wardrobe. But getting on to the main gist of the article, washing symbols are the most important to follow to bolster the durability and longevity of the clothing.

Washing symbols

Come first. If you think that washing symbols are only found in clothes then you are in for a surprise. Wash care symbols are found in washing machines too. Yes, the washing instructions against the buttons mentioned on the panel are the wash care symbols marked

according to the fabric going in for washing.

Let’s discuss wash symbols:

  • Bucket with the water symbol
  1. Bucket with water showing a number inside it indicates the temperature ideal for the garment for washing. If you come across dots in the bucket, the first dot specifies 30 degrees and every additional dot represents +10-degree temperature for washing, e.g., 2 dots mean 30-degree +10 degree.

1 dot = 30 degrees C

2 dots = 40 degrees C

3 dots = 50 degrees C

4 dots = 60 degrees C

5 dots = 70 degrees C

6 dots = 95 degrees C

  1. Sometimes, there is nothing mentioned inside the bucket and only a bucket with water is marked on the garment. It means that the cloth can be washed anyway.
  2. If you come across a hand sign inside the bucket, decode it as a hand-washing instruction for the clothing. Hand washing is often softer on clothes lending an extra cushion of maintenance to the garment. Even stubborn stains require immersing the fabric in warm water and then hand washing the stain with liquid detergent.
  3. If you see a line beneath the bucket symbol, it means that the clothing requires a permanent press or Perm Press. Mostly, such wash care instructions are meant for fabrics like cotton and polyester that wrinkle after washing. Most of the washing machines carry the Perm Press symbol as a wash program to ensure that post washing the garment wrinkles are prevented.
  4. If you see 2 lines under the bucket, it indicates that the clothing requires delicate handling while washing. Most of the machines also provide a Gentle Cycle wash program for the users. Hence, it is the ideal program for such clothes.
  5. A bucket with a cross sign means that the garment does not require washing. It should be dry cleaned.

Tip: The hand wash symbol is mostly found in silk and woollen fabrics. Do follow the wash symbols mentioned in the garment or the washing machine to experience a happy washing schedule. Even detergents specially designed for such washing regimes are easy to find in the market. Though the instruction may seem small enough to be ignored, yet following the pattern will help you see a marked difference in your clothing journey.

Bleaching symbols

Bleaching conditions are mentioned through Triangle symbols on the clothing.

  • A simple triangle without anything in the symbol means any bleaching format can be easily followed.
  • A triangle having 2 diagonal signs inside means only Non-chlorine bleach should be used for washing the garment. Read the label of the chlorine pack to see if the ingredients contain chlorine. If it does, then do not use it for the particular garment. Non-chlorine bleaches are safe for coloured clothes.
  • A black triangle marked with a cross means that the garment requires no bleaching.
  • A triangle with CL written in the middle means any Chlorine bleach is safe for use on it.

Dry Clean Symbols

Even though we live in the age of technology and have washing machines with different programs available to suit the fabrics, yet some washing or non-washing regime is meant for the professionals only. Such is the case with dry cleaning. The circle is the symbol for dry cleaning the garment.

  • A simple sign of a circle means that the garment of for dry cleaning.
  • A circle with a cross means that the garment is not fit for dry cleaning.
  • A circle with either of letters like A (any clean with any solvent), F (dry clean, petroleum only), and P (dry clean with any solvent, except trichloroethylene) indicate the process of dry cleaning to the professional. It is best decided by the experts.

Drying Symbols

It is essential to decide whether the garment should be air-dried or tumble-dried. Square is the shape on the garment or washing machine that helps you in making the right drying decision.

  • Air drying symbols are simple square with 3-vertical lines meaning the cloth should be drip-dried. The diagonal line on the left corner of the square means that it should be dried under shade. A Square with a semi-circle inside means that the garment requires hand drying, and square a flat line in its middle means it requires flat drying.
  • Drying instructions on the machines
  1. Square with a circle inside meaning Tumble Dry.
  2. A Square with a crossed circle means No Tumble Dry.
  3. A Square with a solid black circle means no dry.
  4. Square with Circle having 1 dot specifies normal drying cycle with low heat.
  5. A Square with a circle having 2-dots indicates a normal cycle with medium heat.
  6. Square with Circle having 3-dots means the garment requires a normal drying cycle with high heat.
  • Perm Press
  1. The solid black circle inside the Square with a line under it means Permanent Press with no heat.
  2. The dotted circle inside the Square with a line beneath it means Permanent Press with low heat.
  3. 2-dots in a circle inside the square with a line under it means Permanent Press with medium heat.
  • Gentle Cycle
  1. The black circle inside the square with 2-lines under the square indicates Gentle Cycle with no heat.
  2. The one-dot circle inside a square with 2-lines under the square indicates Gentle Cycle with low heat.
  3. 2-dots in a circle inside the square with 2-lines under it indicate Gentle Cycle with medium heat.

Ironing Symbols

An old-fashioned iron symbol with dots and a line will represent the ironing pattern required for the clothing.

  1. A simple iron symbol means a normal ironing method is required.
  2. An iron with 1-dot in the middle means low heat is required to press the garment.
  3. An iron with 2-dots means medium heat to iron the outfit.
  4. An iron with 3-dots indicates the high temperature is suitable to remove the wrinkles from the garment.
  5. An iron with a cross means no ironing required.
  6. An iron with lines under it means steam required to iron the cloth.
  7. Iron with the cross on lines under it means no-steam required.


All the symbols are self-explanatory, and decoding the meaning of each is not a difficult task at all. Happy maintenance of garments will be possible if the washing instructions are understood and followed.


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