Care Label Symbols

What do they mean?

The right care will ensure your garments last longer. After all, you don't spend time and effort to find the perfect fit to have it ruined during the laundry process.

To determine what the right care for your garment is, take a look at its care label. The care label symbols will tell you how to launder your garment correctly.
You will notice that every care label has five symbols on it. These symbols always appear in the same order and they are:

Laundry - The Care Label - the concept wardrobe

Washing symbols - the basin and water symbols - offer instructions on how to wash the garment.

Bleaching symbols - the triangle symbols - offer instructions on whether bleach may be used and which type.

Drying symbols - the square symbol, often with a circle inside - offer instructions on how to dry and/or tumble dry the garment.

Ironing symbols - the iron symbol - offers instructions on whether the garment may be ironed and at what setting.

Professional cleaning symbols - the circle symbols - offer instructions for professional cleaning processes (wet and dry cleaning).

Washing instructions

These are recognisable as the basin and water symbols.

Machine cycles

A cross through the basin means that the garment cannot be safely washed under normal household conditions. Usually, it will need to be dry cleaned instead.

A hand in the basin signifies that the garment may only be washed by hand using warm water (not above  40°C) and detergent or soap.

The basin and water are the washing symbol. When there is no temperature or dots in the symbol, and no line underneath, the garment may be washed with the hottest available water temperature, as hot water washes better than cold. Absence of bars also indicates maximum agitation (i.e., cotton wash).

A single bar beneath the basin signifies that the garment should be laundered in the "permanent press" cycle. This cycle normally involves a cold rinse before a reduced spin cycle. Medium agitation (synthetics cycle). Garments which have been permanently shaped (are wrinkle resistant)

A double bar underneath the basin means very gentle handling. Wash only on the gentle cycle, involving a reduced spinning cycle and gentle agitation. A double bar indicates very minimal agitation (silk/wool cycle). The bar symbols also indicate the level of spin recommended with more bars indicating lower preferred spin speed.

Water temperatures

When 30 or one dot (USA) is shown, the recommended maximum temperature for washing the garment is 30°C (85°F).

When 40 or two dots (USA) are shown, the recommended maximum temperature for washing the garment is 40°C (105°F).

When 50 or three dots (USA) are shown, the recommended maximum temperature for washing the garment is 50°C (120°F).

When 60 or four dots (USA) are shown, the recommended maximum temperature for washing the garment is 60°C (140°F).

When 70 or five dots (USA) are shown, the recommended maximum temperature for washing the garment is 70°C (160°F).

When 95 or six dots (USA) are shown, the recommended maximum temperature for washing the garment is 95°C (200°F).

Bleaching instructions

Bleaching is the triangular symbol with instructions on whether bleach is allowed.

A triangle signifies that any (chlorine or non-chlorine) bleach may be used when needed on the garment.​

A crossed triangle means that the garment is not able to withstand bleach and may therefore not be bleached.

When CL is shown inside the triangle, the garment may be bleached with chlorine. It is important however to make sure that you use the recommended strength solution, which is usually 1 part bleach to 100 parts of water.

Two oblique lines in the triangle or alternatively, a crossed out triangle with CL inside prohibit the use of chlorine bleach on the garment. Only non-chlorine, colour-safe bleach may be used on the garment when needed.

Drying instructions

Drying is the square symbol and tumble drying instructions will have a circle in the square.

Natural drying

A crossed out garment signifies that the garment may not be wrung to dry.

A semi-circle inside the square means the garment should be hung to dry.

A horizontal bar inside the square means the garment should be lied out flat to dry.

Three vertical bars inside the square mean the garment should be hung to dry, without shaping or smoothing it.

Two diagonal, oblique lines signify that the garment is to be dried in the shade, away from direct sunlight. This symbol may also appear in conjunction with Line or Drip Dry.

Tumble drying

A circle inside a square signifies that the garment may be tumble dried at the hottest available setting.

A crossed out circle and square signifies that the garment may not be tumble dried. Usually one of the alternative, natural drying symbols will be supplied in addition.

A single bar beneath the square and circle signifies that the garments may be dried in the tumble dryer, but only on the "permanent press" setting.

Two bars beneath the square and circle signify that the garment may be dried in a tumble dryer, but only on the "gentle" or "delicate" setting.

An oblique circle inside the square means that the garment may be tumble dried only at the cold "No Heat" or "Air Only" setting.

One dot inside the circle means that the garment may be tumble dried only at a low heat.

Two dots inside the circle mean that the garment may be tumble dried up to a medium heat only.

Three dots inside the circle mean that the garment may be tumble dried at a high heat.

Ironing instructions

Ironing instructions are depicted through an iron symbol.

The iron signifies that the garment may be ironed at any temperature, using steam or dry.

A crossed out iron prohibits ironing of a garment.

One dot inside the iron indicates that the garment should be ironed at the low setting, using steam or dry. This is usually 110°C (230°F), and is most suitable for use on acrylics, nylons and acetates.

Two dots inside the iron means that the garment should be ironed at the medium setting, using steam or dry. A warm temperature is typically 150°C (300°F). You will usually see this symbol on the care label of garments made from wool and polyester mixes.

Three dots is the maximum iron temperature, which is 200°C (390°F). The garment should be ironed at the high setting, using steam or dry. This setting is the one most frequently displayed on care labels, as it is used for clothes made from cotton and linens.

Three vertical bars underneath the iron signify that the garment may be ironed using steam.

A crossed out iron with three vertical bars beneath signifies that the garment may be ironed, but only dry. Steam may damage the garment.

Professional cleaning instructions

Dry Cleaning instructions are indicated by the circular symbol

Dry cleaning

A circle signifies that the garment may be dry cleaned, using any solvent, cycle, moisture, and heat.

A crossed out circle signifies that the garment may not be dry cleaned.

When an A is shown, the garment may be dry cleaned using any solvent. This symbol may appear in conjunction with others restricting the cycle, moisture, or heat.

When an F is shown, the garment may be dry cleaned only using a petroleum-based solvent. This requires a milder process than when PCE is used, which means that it is best suited for embellished or delicate garments.

A bar underneath an F signifies that the garment may be gently dry cleaned only using a petroleum-based solvent.

Two bars underneath an F signify that the garment may be very gently dry cleaned only using a petroleum-based solvent.

When a P is shown, the garment may be dry cleaned using trichloroethylene (PCE).

A bar underneath a P signifies that the garment may be gently dry cleaned using trichloroethylene (PCE).

Two bards underneath a P signify that the garment may be very gently dry cleaned using trichloroethylene (PCE).

When a bar is shown on the left, lower side of the circle, the garment should be dry cleaned using the short cycle.

When a bar is shown on the left, upper side of the circle, the garment should be dry cleaned with reduced moisture.

When a bar is shown on the right, lower side of the circle, the garment should be dry cleaned on a low heat setting.

When a bar is shown on the right, upper side of the circle, the garment should be dry cleaned using no steam.

Wet cleaning

A W inside a circle signifies that the garment may be professionally wet cleaned.

A bar underneath a W means that the garment may be gently wet cleaned.

Two bars underneath the W signify that the garment may be very gently wet cleaned.

A crossed out, oblique circle means that the garment may not be wet cleaned.

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