Here's What The Symbols On Your Clothing Tags Really Mean

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Here's What The Symbols On Your Clothing Tags Really Mean

Have you ever looked at the tag on your favorite piece of clothing and wondered what the little symbols meant? Or maybe something you really loved was ruined in the wash, and you had no idea why.

You're not alone. Even if you do your own laundry and you've learned a few rules about how to take care of the most common fabrics, you may understand what these confusing little pictures actually mean.

Well, you won't have to worry anymore. As it turns out, these tiny drawing are simple explanations for 5 tasks: washing, drying, bleaching, ironing and dry cleaning. If you understand these common symbols you'll never make a mistake a gain.


The main symbol for washing is this little bucket full of water. These 3 simple pictures tell you if you should wash your clothes, not wash them, or hand wash them. If it's the last one, use a tub of hot water and a detergent that's safe for your hands.

These 3 extra symbols give more details about how to wash your clothes.

The dots measure temperature. One dot is 30°C, and every extra dot is another 10 degrees. The highest level, 6 dots, means to wash at 95°.

A line underneath the bucket means that the clothing is permanent press, and shouldn't be ironed. Two lines means to use the gentle cycle, for fabrics like silk.


The basic symbols for drying are very similar to the symbols for washing, except they use a circle inside a square - it kind of looks like a dryer with the door open.

The regular symbol means dry, if it's crossed out don't dry, and the drying symbol only uses 3 dots, for low, medium or high heat.

One line under the symbol means to use the permanent press setting, while 2 lines means to use the gentle setting.


There are only 3 symbols for bleaching: the triangle is for clothes that are safe to bleach, and if it's crossed out the clothing should not be bleached.

If the triangle has lines inside, that means only non-chlorine bleach is safe to use. It usually shows up on colored fabrics.


By now you should have no problem identifying what these ironing symbols mean.

Helpfully, the symbol looks just like an iron. Like the dryer, the ironing symbol uses 3 dots for the iron's low, medium and high settings.

Dry Cleaning

Finally, the dry cleaning symbol uses a circle. Like the other signs, the regular version means your clothes are safe to dry clean, while a crossed-out circle means they aren't.

A circle with P inside means "dry clean only," so take note!

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