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What do the laundry symbols mean?

Here’s your guide over the most common symbols found on care labels. Never doubt what’s right when doing laundry again.

How to read laundry symbols

Before washing any garment, the first thing you should do is look for the laundry symbols. Every garment should have these washing instruction symbols on the care label, and luckily, these symbols are universal. But they are not always self-explanatory, so here is a quick guide to help you decipher what they mean.

If your garment is missing its care label, you can find general care advice for the most common types of textiles in our care guide.

A quick reminder

Always hand wash and air dry your garments when possible, as it is better for our environment and gentler on your clothes than using washing machines and tumble dryers. And just because a care label says that a garment can handle high temperatures when being washed or dried, does not mean you have to use the highest heat level. We recommend choosing lower temperatures when you can.

Washing symbols

Follow these instructions when machine washing to prevent your garments from shrinking or becoming misshapen. It's especially important to pay attention to whether or not the item is machine washable, as well as the maximum temperature for each garment.

1. Machine washable: Any garment with this machine wash symbol is safe to wash in a standard washing machine. However, this does not mean that it can be washed in high temperatures. Always check the maximum recommended temperature to avoid shrinking.

2. Hand wash only: Garments with hand wash symbols should only be washed by hand or with a gentle hand wash cycle. Hand washing is always recommended when possible since it puts less of a strain on the clothes. Read more about hand washing here.

3. Wash at max. 30°C: Any garment with this symbol should not be washed with a temperature setting higher than 30°C. Washing in higher temperatures would likely cause the item to shrink.

4. Wash at max. 40°C: Any garment with this symbol should never be washed in temperatures higher than 40°C.

5. Wash at max. 60°C: Avoid washing in temperatures higher than 60°C. High heat is really only necessary for durable items like linen bedsheets and tablecloths.

6. Gentle wash cycle: A washing symbol with two horizontal lines below means that the item can be machine washed, but only if the washing machine has a gentle or wool cycle.

7. Not machine washable: If you see this symbol, always hand wash or dry clean your garment.

Drying symbols

Also following the drying instructions when tumble drying will prevent your garments from shrinking or becoming misshapen. The general symbol for tumble drying is a square with a circle inside. Below are some variations of drying symbols found on most care labels.

1. Tumble Drying Allowed, 2. Tumble Dry on Gentle Program, 3. Tumble Dry on high program, 4. Hang Dry, 5. Drip Dry, 6. Flat Dry, 7. No Tumble Drying Allowed

Dry cleaning symbols

The 'dry clean only' symbol means that your garment should be dry cleaned by a professional. It can come with different letters or lines, instructing the dry cleaners on the required process. But note that many of these garments can be hand washed.

1. Dry Clean Only, 2. Do Not Dry Clean

Ironing symbols

If you wish to iron a garment, always follow the ironing instructions to prevent the textile fibers from being damaged beyond repair.

1. Iron at max. 110 °C, 2. Iron at max. 150 °C, 3. Iron at max. 200 °C, 4. Do not Iron, 5. Do not Steam

Bleaching symbols

Some want to brighten up white clothes using bleach. This is not something we recommend, as the bleach is bad for the environment and wears hard on the textile fibers. We recommend using our high-efficiency White Laundry Detergent for your white textiles, as it helps your white clothes stay white without using any bleach. If you still wish to bleach, here are the most common symbols.

1. Bleaching Allowed, 2. Non-Chlorine Bleachable, 3. Not Bleachable

But best to avoid machine washing

Remember that the best thing to do is always to avoid washing. Airing, steaming, misting, and brushing off surface dirt are alternative ways to make your clothes look and feel fresh for longer in between washes. And when it is time to wash, try to be as gentle as possible. If your garment is stained, but not otherwise dirty, it is always better to hand wash, since you can focus only on the stained area.

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