Your clothes are trying to tell you something. Whether you hear “Wash me gently in cold water” or “I told you so” depends on how well you understand the symbols found on fabric care labels.

Washing Instructions

= Machine Wash, Normal

You can safely launder this fabric in a home washing machine with the hottest available water and standard detergent or soap and agitation. Variations on this symbol may include dots, numbers, and bars that provide further fabric care instructions.

  • 1 dot = Cold: Wash in water not exceeding 30°C/85°F.
  • 2 dots = Warm: Water temperature should be less than 40°C/105°F.
  • 3 dots = Hot: Water temperature should not exceed 50°C/120°F.
  • 1 bar = Permanent Press: Select the Permanent Press cycle, which has a cool down or cold rinse and a shorter spin cycle.
  • 2 bars = Gentle or Delicate: Machine wash on the Gentle or Delicate cycle, which washes for shorter times and less agitation than the normal or permanent press cycle.

= Hand Wash

Gently launder this garment by hand with water and soap or detergent.

= Do Not Wash

This symbol is usually accompanies by Dry Clean instructions.

Drying Instructions

= Tumble Dry, Normal

It is safe to tumble dry this fabric in a home dryer at the hottest available temperature.

  • 1 dot = It is safe to tumble dry this fabric at the Low Heat setting only.
  • 2 dots = Tumble dry this fabric with the temperature not exceeding the Medium Heat setting.
  • 3 dots = It is safe to tumble dry this fabric at a High Heat setting.
  • 1 bar = Tumble Dry, Permanent Press: It is safe to tumble dry this fabric in a home dryer at the Permanent Press setting.
  • 2 bars = Tumblr Dry, Gentle: Tumble dry this fabric using only the Gentle setting.

= Do Not Machine Dry

A tumble dryer should not be used to dry this fabric. This symbol is usually accompanied by alternate instructions or drying symbol.

Bleaching Instructions

= Bleach When Needed

Any type of bleach may be used when washing this fabric.

= Non-Chlorine Bleach When Needed

Use only non-chlorine bleach, color-safe bleach when washing this fabric.

= Do Not Bleach

Do not use any bleach product with this fabric. It is not colorfast and may not structurally be able to withstand any bleach.

Ironing Instructions

= Iron, Any Temperature, Dry or Steam

This fabric may require regular ironing, which can be done at any temperature with or without steam.

  • 1 dot = Iron, Low: This fabric may be steam or dry ironed at 110°C/230°F–the Low setting on most irons.
  • 2 dots = Iron, Medium: This fabric may be steam or dry ironed at 150°C/300°F–the Medium setting on most irons.
  • 3 dots = Iron, High: This fabric may be steam or dry ironed at 200°C/390°F–the High setting on most irons.

= Do Not Steam Iron

Steam ironing may harm this fabric, but it can be safely dry ironed at the temperature indicated.

= Do Not Iron

This fabric should not be smoothed or finished with an iron.

Dry Cleaning Instructions

= Dry Clean

This fabric must be dry cleaned. Any moisture level, temperature, solvent type, or cycle setting may be used.

= Dry Clean, Any Solvent Except Trichloroethylene

This fabric may be dry cleaned using any solvent except trichloroethylene, which is the solvent most cleaners use.

= Do Not Dry Clean

This fabric can not be commercially dry cleaned.

Useful Tips

  • While sorting, don’t forget to close zippers, clasp hooks and check pockets to prevent snags and avoid washing tissues, money, lipstick, etc.
  • Make sure you have selected the correct cycle and temperature for your load.
  • If you have a load with mixed fabric settings, choose the lowest setting available on your dryer to match with the lowest care label temperature.
  • Use an air-only cycle on heat-sensitive fabrics like rubber, plastic, and other delicate fabrics.
  • Don’t throw delicates into a hot dryer. Dry lightweight, delicate fabrics while the machine is cool, and then dry items like pants and dress shirts. Towels and jeans can handle the hot drum, and should be dried last.