Care Labels Explained: How to Read Laundry Symbols
The garment must be professionally dry cleaned. The letter inside the circle indicates whether the chemical to use is Perchloroethylene (P) or Hydrocarbon (F), or any (A) solvent. Hydrocarbon solvent (P) is more environmentally friendly.
Same as above, but the increasing number of bars under the circle indicates the milder process that should be performed by the dry cleaner
If there are no dots, iron at any temperature. A cross sign over the iron symbol means that you should not iron the item. The dots mean the following:
1 dot: cool iron for delicate items e.g. silk and wool (max 110°C)
2 dots: warm iron for synthetics (max 150°C)
3 dots: hot iron for linen and cotton (max 200°C)
A box with a circle inside and no dots, means that you can tumble dry your items at any temperature. If there are any dots inside the circle, please refer to the following:
1 dot: tumble dry at low heat
2 dots: tumble dry at medium temperature
3 dots: tumble dry possible at high temperature
Dry flat if there is a horizontal line inside the square. Drip dry if there are vertical lines inside the square.
A tub with a hand symbol recommends that your item be hand-washed only, or put in a delicate setting machine-washed cycle. This gentle wash is to prevent shrinkage or snagging of the garment. The maximum temperature of the water is 40°C. Typical items in this category include cashmere and silk.
A twisted symbol indicates that your item can be wrung, whereas a cross over the twisted symbol means that you should not wring the item.
The washtub symbol with no bar sign under the tub indicates that your item is suitable for machine washing, at maximum action with a normal spin. The number of dots inside the washtub means the maximum temperature that can be applied i.e. one dot is 30°C and two dots is 40°C.
The washtub symbols with numbers inside refer to the same as above, indicating the maximum water temperature as displayed.
The number of bars displayed under the tub icon indicate gentle (single bar) and delicate machine washing (double bars). For single bar, the machine should apply a mild spin and, for double bar, a very delicate machine action and spin.
A triangle icon indicates that any bleaching agent can be applied if needed. A cross over the triangle caution you to strictly do not bleach the garment. Both two diagonal lines inside a triangle and a cross over letters CL indicate that bleach can be performed using non-chlorine bleach only.
GENERAL RULES - DOs and DON'Ts
There is not a universal rule on how to care for your clothes, as this would largely depend on the types of material of which the individual pieces are made, and so you should always refer to the care labels attached.
That being said, supplementing that here are a few things to consider if you are thinking about how to care for your clothes more sustainably:
- Wash like-colours together
- Wash gently and inside-out where possible
- Wash items with metal parts (e.g. zippers that stick out) in a mesh laundry bag to avoid snagging
- If you must iron the clothes, do it with water spray. As fabric materials have different heat tolerance levels dry overheating may damage the clothes, and
- Fold clothes along the seams to maintain the shape of the item
- It is recommended to wash items in low temperature or cold water, where appropriate, to save time and up to 80% of your energy costs for washing
- Hang your clothes out to dry if possible to save energy
- Use natural eco-friendly detergents, bleaches and softeners without toxins from sodium lauryl sulphate and brightening agents, which are also skin irritants
- Wash as little as hygienically possible so as to minimise the pollutants from cleaning agent and microfibre particles that wash out to our waterways, and ultimately rivers and oceans
- Use low-water settings on your machine, and make a front-loading washing machine the preferred option when you purchase your next washing machines, as they use considerably less energy and water in cleaning your clothes.