what is your clothing telling you

What Is On a Care Label?

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Take a moment to look at what it is telling you before you tear out that seemingly annoying tag in your new sweater. Understanding the care label on your garments will save you time and money. It also keeps your clothes looking like new for longer.

The symbols on a care label can often seem as complicated as hieroglyphics, and equally impossible to translate. However, they are actually quite simple once you decode the system of dots, lines, and pictures that compose the instructions.

How to Read A Care Label.


Machine-Wash What Is On a Care Label?


Temperature: A dot in the center of the symbol indicates the recommended temperature setting of the machine wash, with each added dot indicating an increase in temperature. For example:


Cool-Warm-Hot What Is On a Care Label?


Cycle: A line underneath the symbol indicates the recommended cycle, with no line symbolizing a normal cycle.

For example:

Normal-Permanent-Delicate What Is On a Care Label?

If machine washing is not recommended, the machine symbol will be crossed out:

Do-not-wash What Is On a Care Label?

In the case of recommended hand washing, the symbol looks like this:

hand-washing-recommended What Is On a Care Label?


Bleach-A What Is On a Care Label?



An empty triangle on your tag indicates that all types of bleach are safe for your garment.

A shaded triangle such as the one pictured next to it is the sign for non-chlorine bleach only. Again, if the triangle is Xed out, this indicates that the garment should not be bleached.



Tumble-Dry What Is On a Care Label?TUMBLE DRY

Once the system of dots and lines is understood for machine washing, tumble dry symbols are easy to interpret. One dot in the center of the circle pictured above indicates low heat, two medium, three high. A filled in a circle means no heat should be applied, while an empty circle means that any heat can be used.


Lines below the symbol indicate cycles. No lines mean normal cycle, one line permanent press, and two lines gentle cycle.

As always, if the symbol is Xed out, this indicates that the item should not be put in the dryer.


 Dry-Clean What Is On a Care Label?DRY CLEAN

Dry clean only is indicated very simply by a blank circle. Xed out? You guessed it. Don’t dry clean.



Iron What Is On a Care Label?IRON

The system of dots applies here too. One dot means low heat, two medium, three high. An X over the symbol? No iron, or a cool iron.



Now that you understand the symbols, you are on your way to maintaining a like-new wardrobe!


Don’t forget to finish off your project with a custom label to commemorate the time, place, and loving hands that made it.


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4 replies
  1. Mary AnnFunke

    Ghank you. I made a copy of this to put in my laundry area.

  2. Irene Dieryck

    Thanks so much for this information. Very helpful and much appreciated.

  3. A Thomsett

    Thank you this is good to know

  4. Gayle Lyons

    Thank you! Very useful!

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