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Laundry Symbols: What You Need to Know | A Guide to Laundry Symbols | Clothing Care Instructions | #washday #homemanagement #laundry

The clothes you wear can dictate how you feel.  They can give you a sense of confidence and energy or a sense of gloom and laziness.  I can feel tired and unmotivated, put on a great outfit, and immediately feel energized and ready to tackle the day.  But, in order to keep your outfits great, you need to know how to care for them properly.  And that means knowing what the laundry symbols on the tags mean.

I can’t tell you how awful it feels to have a favorite shirt ruined because it wasn’t washed or dried properly, and it happens to us all.  Most of us don’t usually pay close attention to the laundry symbols on our clothing tags and our knowledge doesn’t tend to go beyond knowing not to mix colors and whites.  If you want to take the best care of your clothes, especially your favorite items, you need to follow the instructions.  So, here is a quick-reference guide to laundry symbols along with a handy free printable to put in your laundry room.

Laundry Symbols List


There are a few symbols to look for when washing your clothes.  Any symbol that includes this design:

indicates that the garment should be washed via washing machine. The only time it does not indicate using a machine is if there is a picture of a hand included as in this image:

In that case, it would mean to hand wash the garment. Here are the symbols to look for in order to know how to wash your clothing:

Laundry Symbols | Washing Clothes

You may see ones with 4, 5, or 6 dots as well.  These all stand for Machine Wash – Hot but correspond to hotter and hotter temperatures.  The more dots, the hotter the water should be.

Sometimes you will see the corresponding temperature in the symbol as well. As in this image:

The machine wash symbols can be combined for full instructions. You may see a symbol for Machine Wash – Cold that has a two lines underneath it indicating that it should be washed in cold water on a gentle cycle.

Additional symbols to watch for when washing your clothes are the ones related to bleach. I have included those in the chart above.


After taking note on how to wash your clothes, make sure to look and see how they should be dried.  Drying your clothes properly can almost be more important than washing them properly as improper drying can do a lot damage such as shrinking your clothing.

This symbol:

always indicates using a machine dryer to dry your clothes.  Here are the symbols to look for when a machine is used to dry your clothing:

Laundry Symbols | Drying Clothes

Like the wash symbols, these can be combined to indicate the best instructions.

If another drying method should be used, your garment will display one of these symbols:

Laundry Symbols | Drying Clothes

Some clothes need ironing after being washed and dried.  Make sure to look for the following symbols to know whether or not you can iron your garment and what settings to use for best care.

Laundry Symbols | Ironing Clothes
Dry Cleaning

The only symbols you really need to know when it comes to dry cleaning are these two:  

Laundry Symbols | Dry Cleaning

The rest of the symbols should be easily identified by your dry cleaner.  However, in case you need them or just want to know them, here they are:

Laundry Symbols | Dry Cleaning

Keep in mind, like all the other symbols, these can be combined to indicate the best instructions for the garment.

Now that you can identify the laundry symbols on your clothes, you should be able to keep them looking fresh and new.  I have created a chart for you to hang in your laundry room to help remind you of what the symbols mean.  If you are interested, you can access it using below Subscribe box. 

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