A folded grey sweater next to the downloadable checklist on how to read a laundry tag

How to Read a Laundry Tag

Confused by all those little symbols on the tags inside your clothes? Not anymore!



By: Madeline Glasser

In order to get the best out of your clothing and avoid any laundry disasters, a basic understanding of these symbols is essential.

Tip: Download our free guide to keep on hand here.

Wash Symbols
The basic washing symbol consists of a bucket with a scalloped line across the top. If no additional marks are added, you can machine wash as normal with no limitations on water temperature or machine settings.



The following additional marks are often added to specify further washing guidelines:

Washing Symbol with a dot or dots – Machine wash at the following maximum temperatures:

One dot – 30 C or 90 F
Two dots – 40 C or 105 F
Three dots – 50 C or 120 F
Four dots – 60 C or 140 F
Five dots – 70 C or 160 F
Six dots – 95 C or 200 F

Washing symbol with a number inside – Machine wash. The number inside indicates the highest recommended water temperature.

Washing symbol with a line underneath – Machine wash using the permanent press setting.

Washing Symbol with two lines underneath – Machine wash on the gentle or delicate cycle.

Washing Symbol with a hand – Hand wash only.

Washing Symbol with an ‘X’ – Do not wash. This is often accompanied by dry cleaning instructions.

Drying Symbols
The basic drying symbol is a square. An outline of a circle inside the square indicates machine drying instructions. If no additional marks are added, you may use a machine dryer with no restrictions.



The following additional marks are often added to specify further drying guidelines:

Machine dryer symbol with one dot – Machine dry at a low temperature setting only.

Machine dryer symbol with two dots – Machine dry at a medium temperature setting.

Machine dryer symbol with three dots – Machine dry at a high temperature setting.

Machine dryer symbol with the circle coloured in – Machine dry using the air only or no heat setting.

Machine dryer symbol with a line underneath – Machine dry on permanent press only.

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Machine dryer symbol with two lines underneath – Machine dry using the gentle cycle only.

Machine dryer symbol or basic drying symbol with an ‘X’ – Do not use a machine dryer. Look for alternative drying instructions.

Basic drying symbol with a half circle at the top – Line dry. Hang damp garment from a line or bar to dry.

Basic drying symbol with three vertical lines inside – Drip Dry. Hang dripping wet garment from a line or bar to dry.

Basic drying symbol with one horizontal line inside – Lay the garment out on a flat surface to dry.

Basic drying symbol with two diagonal lines in the top corner – Dry in the shade away from direct sunlight.

Bleaching Symbols
The basic bleach symbol is a triangle. If no additional marks are added, you may use any commercially available bleach product.

The following additional marks are often added to specify further bleaching guidelines:

Bleach symbol with two parallel diagonal lines inside – Use only a non-chlorine, colour-safe bleach.

Bleach symbol with an ‘X’ – DO NOT use any kind of bleach. This garment is not colourfast.



Ironing Symbols
The basic iron symbol is simply an outline of an iron. This indicates that regular ironing may be needed and can be done using either steam or dry heat.

The following additional marks are often added to specify further ironing guidelines:

Iron symbol with one dot – Iron at a low setting only (less than 110 C or 230 F). Steam or dry heat may be used.

Iron symbol with two dots – Iron at a medium setting (less than 150 C or 300 F). Steam or dry heat may be used.

Iron symbol with three dots – Iron at a high setting (200 C or 390 F). Steam or dry heat may be used.

Iron symbol with an ‘X’ – Garment should not be ironed or steamed.

Iron symbol with two lines and an ‘X’ below it – Regular ironing at the appropriate temperature is acceptable but steam should not be used.

Tip: The basic dry cleaning symbol is a circle. An ‘X’ through the circle means that the garment shouldn’t be dry-cleaned.



Madeline is the author of Food, Fitness, and Family, a blog where she writes about yummy eats, sweaty workouts and life as a family of three ... soon to be four! She is an Army wife dedicated to finding balance between kale and cake pops while raising her growing family. 

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