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Cracking the Code: Understanding Washing Instruction Symbols

washing and dry cleaning symbols

Why Read The Clothing Symbols?


It’s easier to shrink your clothes than you think, although you cannot completely shrink your clothes in the wash, its possible to severely shrink them with high-temperature washes alongside being dried in a tumble dryer.

Which is what the purpose of washing symbols are, washing symbols can be found on the inside tag of our item of clothing and help assist you in how to wash your clothes while keeping them in excellent condition. It’s essential that these symbols are followed strictly like a set of instructions to ensure that you keep your clothes in the best condition.

But how are you meant to know each and every symbol, there is a variety of them all with specific and broad meanings, which is why we have devised a list of all of the symbols that can be found on both delicate as well as synthetics and other clothing types. So keep reading!

Clothes Care Symbols


Laundry symbols, those enigmatic hieroglyphics found on clothing tags, may seem like a cryptic code at first glance. However, they are a vital tool for preserving the longevity and appearance of your garments. Understanding these symbols can save you from laundry mishaps and ensure that your favorite pieces remain in pristine condition. In this guide, we’ll decipher the common laundry symbols and empower you to become a laundry care expert.

Laundry Symbols are divided into 5 groups

The clothing and laundry industry has created a standard of five basic symbols that form a kind of universal language. To make it even easier, laundry symbols are always featured in the same order on a label. From left to right, they are:


022 symbol

Do Not Wash

010 carefully wash

Synthetic Wash

014 clean

Wool Mild Wash

003 hand wash 1

Hand Wash

Not Suitable For Washing

The first symbol on the diagram is what looks like a basket with water in with a cross through it. This means not suitable for washing, and that you will most likely have to have the garment dry cleaned.

Synthetic Wash Mild Treatments

Synthetic washes are slightly rougher than normal or delicate washes; this is because synthetics are more robust and take more time to get hard stains out. They have rougher spins and more rinsing.

A Wool / Very Mild Wash

The optimum temperature for a wool wash is warm enough to remove stains but cool enough to keep the delicate material intact. Although always check the label to make sure that your item of clothing is suited to this. Using a laundry bag put your clothing in a wool wash, and it will be span and rinsed gentler than usual.

Hand Wash

This symbol is pretty easy to decipher, and washing means that any of your most precious clothes with things such as beading, sequins or delicate buttons need to be washed on this setting to keep them intact.

Tumble Drying

user dryer

May Be Tumble Dried

008 tumble dry 1 1

Tumble Dry Low

013 tumble dry 2

Tumble Dry Medium

007 do not tumble dry 1

Do Not Tumble Dry

This indicates that this item of clothing may be tumble dried after the washing cycle.

Tumble Dry Low

This symbol means that you can tumble dry your clothing on a low heat in order to avoid the possibility of it shrinking. Be sure to check the labels on all of the clothing to make sure that they are all able to go in a tumble dryer at the same heat temperature.

Tumble Dry Medium

And this means you can tumble dry your clothing on a high heat without the possibility of the clothing shrinking or losing its shape.

Do Not Tumble Dry

Take proper care with this symbol, if this symbol is on any of your clothes then it means that it cannot be tumble dried under any circumstances. If you were to put your clothing in a tumble dryer with this symbol, there is a high chance of your clothing coming out damaged, shrunk or misshaped.


004 ironing

Cool Iron

012 iron 1

Warm Iron

021 washing symbols 1

Hot Iron

010 no ironing

Do Not Iron

Cool Iron

A cool iron has a maximum temperature of 110 degrees; this first symbol means that you must use a temperature no more than 110 degrees to iron this garment. This could be due to the delicate materials; if you were to use a warm or hot iron, you risk burning or severely damaging your clothes.

Warm Iron

The second symbol shows a warn iron label symbol; a warm iron can reach up to 150 degrees. Just like before, any temperature higher than
this will cause a high risk of clothing damage.

Hot Iron

A hot iron is up to 200 degrees and is the highest setting on your iron, clothing that has this symbol will not damage as easily as other materials and can be used by this general setting.

Do Not Iron

This last symbol signifies that you should not use an iron on your item of clothing, this could once again be down to the material and delicacy of your clothing.

Dry Cleaning

009 solvent

May Be Dry Cleaned

016 dry clean

Specialest Dry Clean

006 do not dry 1

Do Not Dry Clean

May Be Dry Cleaned

This symbol means that your clothes can generally be dry cleaned by dry cleaners Milton Keynes with no worries of damaging your clothes. 

  • Symbol: A circle with the letter ‘P’ inside.
  • Meaning: The garment is best suited for professional dry cleaning. Different letters inside the circle denote specific solvents suitable for the fabric.

Specialist Dry Cleaning

This means the item of clothing can also be dry cleaned. However there is an extra step that needs to be taken, the P in the middle of the circle indicates to the dry cleaner which one.

Do Not Dry Clean

Unfortunately, some materials do not mix well with dry cleaning; dry cleaners often use a lot of harsh chemicals that might not mix well with delicate or extremely light coloured materials. So for these items of clothing, you should stay well away of dry cleaners.


General Drying

025 dry horizontally

Dry Flat

024 line dry

Hang or Line Dry

023 washing symbols 2

Normal Dry

Dry Flat

This is for clothing that can easily be distorted or take the shape of the item they’re being dried on; this means you should dry them flat and have them vertically dry.

Hang Or Line

This symbol means that you should line dry or hang your clothing up to dry, other things good for this could be clothes horses.


This means that you can just leave your clothes to “drip dry” or dry naturally, dependent on how you do this-this could take longer and result in a lot of ironing, so it’s best to lay it out.

Take Care When Washing Your Clothes

And finally, please take care when washing and drying your clothes, and remember some items are dry cleaning only or cannot be dry cleaned at all so pay attention to the label.

If your clothes have been damaged from using the incorrect washing process, not to worry we offer clothing repairs Buckingham to fix your clothing for you. We hope that this article was helpful, if it was then why not share on social media?

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