Trying to sort out what your laundry care labels are telling you? The system of symbols—dots, dashes, and icons—can be a little hard to decipher. But you’ll get the best possible cleaning results, wash after wash—or dry-cleaning after dry-cleaning—when you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. And it can mean the difference between a long life for a garment, or replacing that garment long before its time.
Machine Wash, Normal
The item can be laundered in up to the hottest water possible, using any type of detergent or soap, with the regular agitation and spin speed. (When this symbol includes a hand, it indicates hand wash only.) Numerals inside the icon indicate the highest recommended water temperature.
Bleach When Needed
The item can be treated with any commercially available bleach product.
Tumble Dry, Normal
You can dry the item in a machine dryer at up to the hottest setting. A system of dots indicates the recommended temperature range, from low to high.
Hang the item or garment from a line or bar, indoors or out. Tumbling dry could damage this item.
Iron, Any Temperature
The item or garment may need ironing, and you can iron it at any available temperature, with or without steam. An iron symbol with an “X” through it means the fabric should not be ironed at all. A system of dots indicates the recommended temperature range, from low to high.
This means you should dry-clean the garment only—do not machine wash or dry. A letter inside the circle indicates the type of chemical that can be used.
The more dots you see on the tag mean the more heat the clothes can take. One dot means cool or low heat, two dots for warm or medium heat, and three dots for hot or high temperature.
As for bars, the more bars you see, the gentler of a cycle you should use. One bar means permanent press cycle, two bars means gentle/delicate cycle, and bars in the shape of an “X” mean do not wash.
Whether you are a laundry newbie or a laundry pro, keep these tips in mind.
How to Do Laundry—The Downy Way