British Laundry Symbols Explained - Guide to Garment Care Labels (2023)

We all know that we should look at the labels on our clothes before washing them, but some of these symbols can be a bit ambiguous at times. With so many different shapes with dots, crosses and lines... it can be hard to figure out what these little pictograms are telling you.

So, here is a post about these tricky symbols and what each of them means.

British washing symbols

There are a variety of different washing symbols that may appear on our garment labels, from recommended temperatures to hand wash only. So let's take a look at these little graphs and find out what they mean.

hand washing symbol

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This symbol is self explanatory as it shows a hand in some water. Items that require hand washing should be hand washed very delicately at 40ºC or below.

Some washing machines have a hand washing function.delicate items, so you can use this setting for cashmere and silk garments, for example. The hand wash setting dries clothes much more gently, preventing them from shrinking or tangling on delicate fabrics.

washing temperature symbols

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Wash temperatures range from cold to hot and are suitable for different types of fabrics. The label on your garment will tell you what temperature you should not exceed when washing it to prevent shrinkage or other damage to the material.

Much simpler and easier to decipher are the labels that show the machine wash water symbol with numbers inside:

  • Washbasin with 30°C or monopoint– Do not exceed 30°C or 80°F
  • Fregadero at 40°C or at the points– Do not exceed 40°C or 105°F
  • Fregadero at 50°C or three points–Do not exceed 50°C or 120°F
  • Sink at 60°C or four points–Do not exceed 60°C or 140°F
  • Fregadero at 70°C or five points–Do not exceed 70°C or 160°F
  • Fregadero at 95°C or six points–Do not exceed 95°C or 200°F

Synthetic and cotton icons

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Many items of clothing have a simple machine wash symbol and temperature, but there are a few other symbols to look out for:

  • Kreis- Dry clean only
  • circle with cross through- Do not dry clean
  • Why- Machine washable and can be washed and rinsed normally
  • crossover sink- You do not see
  • toilet with a row below– Machine washable, but with a reduced spin speed
  • Two-tier toilet below- Machine washable on gentle cycle (for delicate garments)

Chemical cleaning symbols

When an item needs dry cleaning, it's usually done by professionals, and they need a few extra dry cleaning symbols to make sure the item is cleaned properly. In addition to the outline of the circle that indicates that an item must be dry cleaned, this circle may contain some letters:

  • F– The letter F only indicates the use of hydrocarbon solvents
  • PAG– The letter P indicates the exclusive use of tetrachlorethylene (PCE).
  • C– The letter W indicates that a garment requires professional wet cleaning

The horizontal lines below the circle tell the dry or wet cleaner how mild the cleaning level should be:

  • single line- Gentle cleaning is required
  • double line- Very gentle cleaning is required

drying symbols

When it comes to drying instructions, the symbols mainly relate to drying clothes, since most clothes can be hung to dry. Some items are not suitable for tumble drying and others need to be dried at a lower temperature; Not all drying is as easy as it seems.

drying symbols

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Dryers are a useful appliance, but not all clothes are suitable for this form of drying. Check the symbols on your garment to make sure your wool sweater won't shrink!

  • Outline of a circle within a square- Suitable for tumble drying
  • Outline of a circle within a square with a cross- Not suitable for the dryer.
  • Contour of a circle inside a square with a point- Low temperature drying
  • Contour of a circle inside a square with two points- Tumble dry at medium heat
  • Contour of a circle inside a square with three points- Tumble dry on high heat
  • Filled in a circle within a square- Dry without heat

General drying symbols

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not everyone has onedryer, so these general instructions for drying clothes will be of great help. Certain garments may be made of fibers that deform when hung and retain that shape when dried, and others may fade in direct sunlight; So check the label to make sure you're not ruining any of your items as you dry them.

  • square outline- It can be dry
  • Square outline with a curved line at the top- Can be hung on the clothesline to dry
  • Square outline with three vertical lines inside- Can be drained on a clothesline or drying rack
  • Square outline with a horizontal line inside– Must dry flat to keep garment in shape
  • Square outline with two diagonal lines in the upper left corner– It must be dried in the shade to avoid direct contact with sunlight, which can fade the garment or attack the fibers
  • Twisted fabric with a cross- This item should not be twisted as this may damage clothing.

These drying symbols are sometimes overlapped to show multiple instructions in one symbol: i. h three vertical lines inside the square Y two diagonals in the upper left corner indicate drip drying in the shade.

suspension symbols

Irons have a few heat settings on their dials, and often you can use the same general setting for all ironing because it seems to work.

However, these variable temperatures are available because certain fabrics require less heat than others and can be damaged if excessive heat is applied to their surface. The ironing instructions on the clothing label will help here. Let's take a closer look at them.

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  • simple iron outlines- It can be ironed and steamed at any temperature.
  • Iron contour with a cross.– Never iron
  • Outline of the temple with steam lines and a cross in the steam– You can iron, but you should not use steam
  • iron contour with a point– It can be ironed at a maximum temperature of 110°C or 230°F
  • Iron contour with two points–It can be ironed at a maximum temperature of 150°C or 300°F
  • Iron contour with three points–It can be ironed at a maximum temperature of 200°C or 290°F

whitening symbol

There are certain types of fabrics that shouldn't be bleached, so it's important to understand the symbols for bleaching clothes to make sure you don't ruin your favorite top or new pair of pants.

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  • triangular outline- Can be bleached if needed
  • Triangle contour with a cross– Must not be bleached under any circumstances
  • Triangle with CL inside and cross or triangle with two diagonal lines inside– If bleach is required, non-chlorine bleach should be used

Are laundry symbols universal?

If you tend to do a lot of shopping when you travel, you may have clothes from all over the world, so the laundry symbols in the UK mean the same as they do in other countries.

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Sometimes they don't. These small warning icons can differ from region to region and are sometimes color coded to make the icons easier to read, e.g.

The EU (for Europe) and ISO agreed on an international standard, but copyright laws made it difficult to generalize the symbols and their use. But they are often very close and similar to standard UK laundry symbols, so if you're planning to go shopping somewhere far away, you don't need to worry too much.

Don't forget the standard British laundry symbols

As many people install unique laundry rooms in their homes, information-inspired furnishings are on the rise. Why not put up a poster or hang it on the wall with all the laundry symbols so you can refer to your murals as you wash?

British Laundry Symbols Explained - Guide to Garment Care Labels (9)British Laundry Symbols Explained - Guide to Garment Care Labels (10)
This laundry guide posterIt has many of the best UK washing symbols and would look fabulous in a simple frame to suit your decorating style.

BoxEtsyFor an even greater variety of laundry themed wall decorations and you'll never shrink a sweater or damage your delicates again!

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Lady of about 30 years with a love for flowers and everything related to crafts. I like to clean using green methods whenever possible and love to share my ideas, tips and tricks here at In The Wash.

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