Wash care labels: washing symbols and what you need to know

A wash care label is typically designed to let you know exactly what you need to do to preserve and keep clothing looking its best. From water temperatures to ‘dry clean only’ messages, it’s your responsibility as a retailer or fashion brand  to ensure that the label is an accurate and helpful guide for your customers.

Having been in the industry for over 20 years, we have a lot of experience in the production of  wash care labels. We’ve compiled a little guide that details all what needs to be included  on your wash care label and what to consider before production.

There are typically five main symbols that you will have to include in your wash care label which cover washing, drying, ironing and bleaching methods, as well as professional cleaning instructions. 

Washing Symbols

Different materials should usually be washed separately and at different temperatures. For example, Cotton has a high tolerance and can be washed at high temperatures whereas Silk is usually washed at a cooler temperature. The basin symbol tells you which particular washing method is suitable for that material.

A bucket of plain water with no lines underneath or dots inside means the garment can be machine washed on a normal setting with agitation, using any detergent and the hottest water available.

30°C (86°F) This laundry symbol features just the bucket with 30 inside and suggests the maximum temperature the garment should be washed at. Usually, 95°C is the highest this number goes to.

A hand over or inside the bucket indicates you should hand wash the item with a gentle detergent and water.

One line underneath the bucket indicates to use the permanent press cycle, with a cold rinse before the spin.

Two lines indicate to use the gentle or delicate cycle, with gentle machine agitation and a shorter wash cycle.

A bucket that is crossed out means you shouldn’t machine wash and is usually followed by dry cleaning or hand washing instructions.

Drying Symbols

A square symbol indicates the drying method for the item be it hand dry or tumble dry.

A square with a large, empty circle inside indicates tumble dry normal.

A square with a large circle inside that is crossed out means do not tumble dry.

A square with circle inside symbol and a single dot indicates normal machine drying on a low setting.

A square with three vertical lines inside indicates to drip dry, usually by hanging a dripping wet garment on a line.

A square with a single horizontal line indicates to lay the garment flat for drying.

Ironing Symbols

In the UK, simply stating which heat setting is sufficient whereas the North American system separates the steaming function, but if you’re just selling in the UK, you don’t need to include this symbol. 

Just remember that, if you don’t want the consumer to steam the garment, then the ‘Iron at Low Heat’ setting is the most appropriate symbol (even if you could technically iron the garment at a higher temperature).

An empty iron symbol indicates you can iron at any temperature, with or without steam.

An iron with one dot indicates a low setting, 110°C or 230°F, with or without steam.

Two dots inside the iron indicate a medium setting, 150°C or 300°F, with or without steam.

Three dots inside the iron indicate a high setting, 200°C or 390°F, with or without steam.

A crossed out iron means do not iron.

An iron with crossed out lines underneath means do not use steam when ironing.

Dry Cleaning symbols

The Circle Symbol denotes information for dry cleaning. This is usually specialist information that is given to a dry cleaner who can then determine the best type of treatment for the garment. 

An empty crossed out circle means do not dry clean.

An empty circle indicates to dry clean only.

A circle with an A means dry-clean with any solvent.

A circle with an F means dry-clean with petroleum solvent only.

A circle with a P means dry-clean with any solvent except trichloroethylene.

Bleaching Symbols

The triangle symbol refers to  whether a garment can be cleaned using bleach. While bleach is a great way to get rid of stubborn stains, it can destroy clothing made from certain fabrics. 

An empty triangle indicates to bleach when needed with any type of laundering bleach.

A triangle that is crossed out means do not use any type of bleach. The garment is not colour safe, or the material is unable to hold up to bleach.

A triangle with diagonal lines inside indicates to use colour safe, non-chlorine bleach only.

Final steps 

Once you have ready the appropriate symbols for your garment, there are also a few lines of space for an additional few sentences which can be tailored  as per your requirements. Many clothing brands also include the country of origin and the material. If you are looking for more space, let us know! 

For more information, as well as a no obligation quotation, get in touch with a member of our expert team who can help you establish what you need for your brand.