What Do Some of the Common Washing Symbols on Clothes Mean?


Quick Answer

Common washing symbols found on clothes include wash, bleach, tumble dry, dry clean and iron. Other clothing symbols indicate what temperature of water to wash garments in and which washing machine or dryer cycle to use for the best results. A bar, or "X," on clothing labels translates to "do not," which warns people that certain activities will damage clothes.

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Full Answer

The wash symbol appears as a top wavy line affixed to a three-sided container. Some symbols have numbers, which indicate the appropriate temperature at which to wash clothes; 30 means wash in cold water, 40 means warm, 50 is very warm and 60 means hot. Some clothes come with a dot system; one dot means wash in cold, two means warm and three means hot. A wash symbol with a hand means that the garment should only be hand washed, while an "X" means that it should not be washed in the washing machine. One horizontal line signals permanent press, and two lines mean to use the gentle cycle.

A triangle symbol provides bleaching instructions. A clear triangle permits washing with chlorinated or non-chlorinated bleach. Triangles with "CL" show only chlorinated bleach works, while symbols with lines represent non-chlorinated bleach. An "X" through the symbols means "do not bleach."

Clothes suitable for machine drying bear the symbol of a square with a circle. One dot means dry on low, two means dry on warm and an "X" means do not dry in a machine. A square symbol means to air-dry only.

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