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What Do the Laundry Symbols Mean? Unlocking Laundry Tips and Tricks

Written by Whitney Bennett

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Learn what the laundry symbols mean on your clothes with this printable graphic.

Deciphering the Meaning of Laundry Symbols and Other Laundry Tips and Tricks

Nobody loves doing laundry – in fact, it might be your least favorite chore. It can take a long time, and there’s always a chance that you end up ruining your favorite blouse because you don’t quite understand the laundry symbols that are on your laundry care tag.

In this article, you’ll find a free, printable laundry care symbol sheet that’s cute enough that you can frame it and hang it in your laundry room so you’ll never forget what each symbol means! We’ve also compiled a few ways to make laundry day a little bit easier for everyone, including how to make towels softer and more absorbent, and reduce drying time! 

What Do the Laundry Symbols Mean?

The definition of each of the laundry symbols on your clothing.

Click to download and print.

Laundry symbols became a standardized part of clothing in 1963 when GINETEX, the International Association for Textile Care Labeling, was formed and created standard laundry care symbols. Before GINETEX, most clothing manufactures wrote laundry care instructions on the tags inside of clothing in the language of the country where the clothing was being produced and sold. As it became more normal for clothing to be made in different countries and shipped worldwide, a standard “language” needed to be created so that every consumer who was purchasing the clothes could understand how to care for them on laundry day, regardless of what language they spoke. Thus, GINETEX was created and made standardized and universal laundry care symbols that everyone can understand.

Sometimes it's hard to remember what each symbol means, though, which is why we’ve created this cheat sheet of what the laundry symbols mean. It’s perfectly formatted for you to download, print, and hang it in your laundry room!

Wash Laundry Symbol

What the bucket and water symbol means on your laundry.

This is the wash laundry symbol, which looks a bit like a bucket of water. This symbol will note the highest temperature you can wash the item of clothing in, which is notated by the temperature inside of the bucket symbol. This symbol may also have lines underneath the bucket of water. One line under the bucket means mild wash, and two means very mild wash. If this symbol has a hand inside of it, it means you should only hand wash that laundry item, or if it has an X through the bucket of water, it means you should not wash the clothing.

Bleach Laundry Symbol

What the triangle symbol means on your laundry.

The bleach laundry symbol is notated by a small triangle. If the triangle is open and blank, it means you can bleach the laundry with any type of bleach. If the triangle has two lines inside of it, it means you should only use non-chlorine bleach. If the triangle has a large X through it, it means you should not bleach this laundry item.

Drying Laundry Symbol

What the square drying symbol means on your laundry.

The drying laundry symbol is notated by a square. If tumble dying is OK with the item, there will be a circle inside of the square. If the circle has two small dots inside of it, that means you can dry it in your clothes dryer without any problems. If there is only one dot, that means you should dry it on a mild setting, and if there is an X through the circle and square, you should not tumble dry the item.

If the square drying laundry symbol has lines inside of it, that means you should be drying the item naturally. There are a number of different symbols for natural drying. Line drying is notated by a vertical line inside of the square drying laundry symbol. Flat drying is notated by a horizontal line inside of the square drying laundry symbol.

Ironing Laundry Symbol

What the ironing symbol means on your laundry.

The ironing laundry symbol looks a bit like an iron. If this symbol has three dots inside of it, you can use a hot iron on the clothing item. If there are only two dots, you should use a mild temperature, and with one dot, iron the clothing item at a low heat. If there is an X through the iron laundry symbol, it means you should not iron that laundry item.

Professional Textiles Laundry Symbols

What the circle symbol means on your laundry.

If your clothing has a circle icon, it is an instruction for professional dry cleaning. If your clothing has a circle with an X through it, that means you should not have that clothing item professionally dry cleaned. If the circle has a W inside of it, those are instructions for professional wet cleaners, unless your garment has a circle, W inside, with an X, which tells you that this clothing item should not be professionally wet cleaned.

Other Laundry Tips

Sort Your Laundry Before Laundry Day

One of the longest processes of laundry day is sorting your laundry into different light and dark piles. You can make this process a bit easier by getting a hamper that lets you sort your clothes as you remove them.

Hamper:

Price: $52.99

Price is accurate as of time of publishing.

Click to buy.

Not only will you be able to transport your laundry easily to and from the washer with a hamper like this one, but your laundry will take much less time to sort into separate loads!

Use Tennis or Dryer Balls to Reduce Drying Time

Dryer balls are an underused resource to reduce static in your clothing and decrease your laundry’s drying time! (Some people even use tennis balls to achieve this!) How does it work? When you first take your clothes out of the washer and put them into the dryer, they’re wet and clumped together, locking the moisture inside. When you put dryer balls into your dryer, they move around and separate your clothes, thus drying your clothes faster. Some more natural wool dryer balls let you put essential oils on them so your clothes end up smelling even better after doing into the dryer.

Wool Dryer Balls:

Price: $12.99

Price is accurate as of time of publishing.

Click to buy.

Plastic Dryer Balls:

Price: $8.00

Price is accurate as of time of publishing.

Click to buy.

Make Your Towels Soft and Fluffy With This Laundry Trick

Have your towels ever felt stiff, instead of soft and fluffy, no matter how many times you washed them? Usually this is from a buildup of laundry detergent or fabric softener. You can soften and revitalize your towels with some baking soda and vinegar. Here's how:

  1. Place towels into washer with 1 cup of vinegar. Wash at the hottest temperature
  2. Run the washer again with 1/2 cup of baking soda. Wash at the hottest temperature

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Make Your Washer and Dryer More Efficient by Cleaning and Maintaining Them

Cleaning your washer and dryer regularly can make the machines run more efficiently, clean your clothes better and keep running for their intended lifespan. Cleaning your washer and dryer doesn’t have to be a huge process but can save you money as well as reduce fire hazards inside of your home. Read our blog on how to clean your washer and dryer to learn more.

Protect Your Washer and Dryer With a Home Warranty

Learn what the laundry symbols mean on your clothes with this printable graphic.​​​​​​​

Make sure that your clothes washer and dryer are protected with a home warranty plan. If you have a plan that covers the washer and dryer in your home, you can save hundreds of dollars on repairs and replacements when your washer and dryer breaks down. As long as the washer and dryer fail from normal wear and tear, all you will have to pay is a small $60-$100 service call fee to repair or replace your clothes washer and dryer.

Interested in getting your home’s washer and dryer covered with a home warranty? Get a quote for your home to find the best home warranty plan for you here.

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