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Understanding Laundry Symbol Meanings in 1 Minute

By Michael Lau   Ι  2023-12-06

As clothing professionals, it is very important to make unique and clear laundry wash labels for your clothing, that is why it’s crucial to understand laundry symbols. These symbols provide essential guidelines on how to properly care for garments, promote longevity, reduce customer complaints, maintain brand reputation, and ensure compliance with regulations.

Initially, washing laundry instructions were in textual form. However, since 1997, manufacturers widely adopted internationally recognized laundry signs to replace text, creating a laundry care chart. This chart includes five simple symbols explaining clothing care meaning, ensuring widespread understanding and usage. This move has made care information more concise and easy to understand.


Hi, I’m the author of this post and have been in wholesale labels and hangtags for over 17 years. If you want to know anything about our products or require help please feel free to ask me at any time!


Wash Tub = Washing

Washing symbols guide correct clothing temperature and washing cycles.

  • The temperature is represented by dots on the washing symbol – more dots, higher temperature.
  • Numbers represent the maximum washing temperature: 30, 40, 50, 60…
  • No lines: Normal wash
  • The number of lines beneath the wash tub indicates the washing cycle.
    0 lines: Regular cycle
    1 line: Wrinkle prevention cycle
    2 lines: Gentle cycle
  • Hand wash tub: Hand wash, default maximum washing temperature is 40℃
  • X tub: Do not wash
  • Twisted clothes with an X: Do not wring 

Triangle - Bleaching

Bleaching symbols are straightforward and always represented by a triangle.

  • Empty triangle: Any bleach can be used.
  • Striped triangle: Only oxygen bleach/non-chlorine bleach allowed
  • Solid triangle with an X: Do not bleach.

Square - Drying

  • In the square, vertical lines mean “hang,” horizontal lines mean “lay flat,” a diagonal line in the upper left corner means “dry in shade.”
  • Square with a circle in the center: Normal drying cycle.
  • Square with a circle and extra lines below: Permanent press
  • Square with a circle, and two extra lines below:Tumble by gentle
  • Square with a circle and an X in the center: Do not tumble dry.
  • Square with an X: Do not tumble dry.

Similar to washing symbols, drying symbols also have dots indicating heat type:

  • Black circle: Tumble dry with no heat.
  • 1 dot: Low heat
  • 2 dots: Medium heat
  • 3 dots: High heat
  • Nodots: Tumble dry normal

Iron - Ironing

Ironing symbols look similar, featuring an iron image. Like washing and drying symbols, you might see dots indicating temperature.


  • Iron with one dot: Low heat
  • Iron with two dots: Medium heat
  • Iron with three dots: High heat
  • Ironing with an X: Do not iron.
  • X on steam lines: No steam

Circle - Dry cleaning

A circle indicates the item needs dry cleaning.

  • Circle with an X: Do not dry clean
  • Circle with lettersinside: Indicates the type of chemicals that can/should not be used on the fabric.
  • Lines around the edges: Indicates any additional instructions for the dry cleaner.

Embracing the knowledge of standardized wash care labels plays a key role in ensuring the lasting care and quality of your clothes. Keep these laundry care symbols within easy reach as a helpful reference. Should you require any support in optimizing wash label tags to enhance client trust and satisfaction, please don’t hesitate to connect.

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