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Helping You Understand Those Washing Labels

Ever wonder what those washing icons mean? When it comes to taking care of your clothes, it’s easy to get confused by those complicated clothing care symbols on clothing tags. But all these laundry tag symbols are simply there to provide you with instructions for keeping your clothes looking their best for as long as possible. With this handy laundry symbols guide, Dettol is here to help take the hassle out of laundry day and explain what all of those head-scratching laundry care symbols mean.

Understanding washing instruction symbols

The first step when you’re cleaning your clothes is making sense of the clothes washing symbols – these will tell you how to wash your clothes, including what settings you should use on your washing machine.

When looking at clothing tag symbols, a picture of a washtub is used to indicate whether a piece of clothing should be washed in your washing machine or be washed by hand. Bars underneath the washtub provide instructions on which rinse and spin cycles are recommended. Numbers or dots inside the washtub indicate what the maximum water temperature you should be using.

Washing Symbols Meaning

Machine Washable Symbol - Normal
Clothes may be washed using a normal cycle with standard rinse and spin settings
Permanent Press
Clothes require reduced spin time or speed to minimise creasing
Delicate/Gentle
Clothes require a milder washing process with reduced mechanical action
Maximum Wash Temperature
Do not wash items using water above the temperature indicated
Hand Wash Symbol
Wash delicate items by hand to prevent damaging the fabric or shape

 

Water Temperature Symbols

Hot 95°C
Suitable for white or coloured fabrics such as cotton or linen
Hot 70°C
Suitable for coloured fabrics that should not be washed at higher temperatures (e.g. cotton, polyester, blends)
Hot 60°C
Suitable for coloured fabrics that should not be washed at higher temperatures (e.g. cotton, polyester, blends)
Hot 50°C
Suitable for coloured fabrics that should not be washed at higher temperatures (e.g. cotton, polyester, blends)
Warm 40°C
Suitable for dark coloured fabrics such as cotton, polyester, or blends
Cool 30°C
Suitable for dark coloured fabrics such as cotton, polyester, or blends

 

Warning Symbols

Do Not Wash
Items should not be washed
Do Not Wring
Do not wring out wet items, as this can damage the fabric

Understanding bleaching instructions

Look out for symbols using triangles to figure out when it is safe to use bleach on your clothes. Remember that the Do Not Bleach symbol really does mean that bleach can damage your clothes!

Bleaching Symbols Meaning

Bleach Okay to
Indicates that bleach can be safely used when washing an item
Use Nonchlorine Bleach
Indicates that bleach can be safely used when washing an item
Do Not Bleach Symbol
Indicates that an item can’t be bleached, as bleach will cause damage

Understanding drying instructions

Pay particular attention to the dryer symbol on clothes to help keep your clothes looking and fitting their best – these instructions could mean the difference when it comes to stretching or shrinking your favourite top!

Square symbols are used to tell you the best way to dry your clothes. Firstly, squares with lines inside guide how you should air dry particular items of clothing. Secondly, clothing that can be put in the tumble dryer will have a square with a circle inside. Lines underneath the square tell you which dryer cycle to use and dots inside the circle indicate which temperature setting is appropriate for that item.

Drying Symbols Meaning

Hang to Dry on Line
Safe to hang to dry on a clothesline
Drip Dry
Best to drip dry on a clothes rack
Dry Flat
Dry item flat to help keep its shape
Dry in Shade
Used in conjunction with line, drip, or flat drying symbol, when drying in direct sunlight is not recommended

 

Dryer Symbols : Cycle

Normal Cycle
Clothes may be tumble dried on normal settings
Permanent Press
Indicated for items that require a milder drying process to help minimise creasing
Delicate/Gentle
Indicated for items that require a milder drying process to reduce risk of damage
No Dryer Symbol - Do Not Tumble Dry
Clothes should not be tumble dried and are likely to be damaged in the process

 

Dryer Symbols : Heat Setting

Any Heat
Clothes may be tumble dried on any heat setting
High Heat
Clothes should be tumble dried with high heat
Medium Heat
Clothes should be tumble dried with medium heat
Low Heat
Clothes should be tumble dried with low heat
No Heat/Air
Clothes should be tumble dried without heat

Understanding ironing instructions

Quite helpfully, the ironing instructions use an iron symbol, with the dots indicating which temperature setting to use. Different fabrics require different levels of heat.

Ironing Symbols Meaning

Cool Iron
Use a maximum temperature of 110°C for more delicate items
Warm Iron
Use a maximum temperature of 150°C for synthetic items
Hot Iron
Use a maximum temperature of 200°C for or linen or cotton items
No Steam
Items require a dry iron only, do not use steam
Do Not Iron Symbol
Item is not suitable to be ironed, as ironing will likely cause damage

Understanding dry cleaning instructions

Some clothing labels indicate that they should be washed and dried professionally at the drycleaners. The symbol for dry cleaning is a circle with a letter inside and may also have a line underneath. These letters and lines provide the drycleaner with specific instructions on what cleaning products and processes should be used.

Dry Cleaning Symbols Meaning

Any Solvent
Item can be dry cleaned using standard processes
Any Solvent Except Trichloroethylene
Item must not be dry cleaned using a trichloroethylene
Petroleum
Item must be dry cleaned using a petroleum solvent
Low Moisture, Mechanical Action, Drying
Item requires a process that limits the amount of moisture, mechanical actions, and/or drying temperature
No Dry Clean Symbol - Do Not Dryclean
Item is not suitable for dry cleaning

So now that you know all about laundry symbols and how to give your clothes the best of care in the wash, what about protecting you and your family from germs? For optimal decontamination of all your laundry at home, run your washing machine using a water temperature of at least 60°C with a bleach-based detergent. But when you’re looking to avoid a hot wash or bleach, reach for Dettol Anti-Bacterial Laundry Sanitiser to remove 99.9% of germs, leaving your clothes hygienically clean and fresh – even in a cold wash.

RB-M-43512

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