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Washing Machine Laundry Symbols

Laundry signs guideWith the invention of the automated manufacturing processes in the textile industry, clothing and garment production has skyrocketed, making up 15% of the global trade GDP.

This increase of production, as well as development in the chemical textile industry, has spurred on the creation of a wide range of textile variants, natural, synthetic and mixed.

Wearing them entails their care, proper washing and maintenance. Manufacturers use symbols to indicate what sort of cleaning, drying and ironing methods work best for these types of materials.

Sometimes these laundry symbols might be confusing, that’s why the team created a quick guide to make it easier for you to take better care of your clothing.

How Many Types of Washing Symbols are There

There are generally five types of clothes washing symbols which can be separated into two main categories – heat and water treatment. There are “do” symbols and there are “don’t” symbols which warn you not to use certain chemicals or heat treatments.

Dry Cleaning

There are five washing label symbols on your clothes which pertain to dry cleaning. The empty circle, or dot symbol as some people say, is a symbol indicating that this type of clothing should be dry cleaned and not washed using water or water-based detergents.

Circles with small letters in them indicate the type of solvent that should be used, they act as instructions for the dry cleaners that you might use.

If there are lines or bars underneath the circle, this is an indication for caution. A crossed circle indicates that this type of garment should not be dry cleaned because it might be damaged.

The most common types of clothing and fabrics that have these labels are:

  • Woolen materials;
  • Silk;
  • Cashmere wool;
  • Suede;
  • Denim.

Ironing Symbols

An ironing symbol with no dot means the clothing can be ironed safely at any temperature. An iron symbol with more than one dot indicates the temperature at which to iron the material.

Ironing symbols with steam markings are an indication that it’s ok to use steam ironing, and any sort of cross symbol means not to iron the garment at all.

The most common types of clothes which should NOT be ironed are the ones which are sensitive to heat and tend to shrink or break down, like:

  • Alpaca wool;
  • Sheep’s wool;
  • Polyester;
  • Nylon materials;
  • Spandex;
  • Tencel.

Hand Washing

Hand washing is best suited for the most delicate of materials, like silk and cashmere, however, some clothing brands don’t recommend certain methods of hand washing.

If the manufacturer deems it dangerous, they will indicate it on the clothing tag, with symbols which are generally easy to understand. A hand in a tub symbol indicates that the material should be hand washed at no more than 40 degrees Celsius.

A twisting symbol means the clothing can be wrung and a crossed wrung symbol means that the garment should be air dried.

Clothes and garments which most often will be hand washed are:

  • Delicate silken underwear;
  • Woolen sweaters;
  • Cashmere sweaters;
  • Silken blouses.

Silk is quite easy to wrinkle and should not be wrung, but rather should be left to air dry since this is the most gentle drying method around.

Washing Machine and Drying

Washing machines and tumble driers are by far the most commonly used methods of clothes washing in the 21st century. They are convenient, save quite a lot of effort and produce clean, dry clothes within hours.

However, due to the increase in the friction between the tumbler and other fabrics, some clothes are best not to be washed in a machine or tumble dried. The best way to determine whether or not your clothes should be machine washed is to look for these symbols.

Some of the most common washing instruction symbols are the tumble dry symbols. A circle inside a square means it’s ok to tumble dry the clothing. The same symbol with an added dot means low temperature, two dots mean medium temperature and three dots mean high temperature.

The do not tumble dry symbol is a crossed circle within a square, there shouldn’t be any dots inside the circle.

There are several quite types of fabrics and fabric materials which is best not to tumble dry or machine wash, like:

  • Rubber;
  • Waterproof clothing;
  • Elastic materials;
  • Tights and pantyhose;
  • Embellished garments;
  • Leather and expensive shoes.

Synthetic Fabric Specific

Some quite important washing symbols UK citizen should be aware of are the synthetic fiber symbols. While most synthetic fabrics are quite resilient, there are some which are a bit more temperamental than others.

Manufacturers will indicate this with a tub symbol with a number in it – it indicates the temperature at which the clothing should be machine washed. A tub without any markings in it or underneath it is an indication that it’s safe to wash the clothing whichever you want.

A tub with a single line underneath it is an indication that the spin cycle and rotations should be reduced. The more lines there are, the slower the tumble process should be. A crossed tub is an indication that the item should not be washed.

The most common synthetic materials which are safe to be tumble dried on a cool setting are:

  • Lycra;
  • Polyester;
  • Nylon.

High heat and fast tumble speeds will cause damage to most synthetic materials, especially if they have waterproofing of some sort. This is why manufacturers will put symbols either indicating a cool tumble dry setting, or will outright forbid machine drying.

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