Fabric Care Labels & Laundry Washing Symbols – the benefits of reading them at least once

The Chopras had new purchases for the festival and were excited. The day passed off beautifully and the end of the day saw Mrs. Chopra put her lovely silk fabric in yellow into the washing machine.  When she removed the dress of her desire out of the washing machine, she was horrified to notice a lot of threads in yellow and white dangling from the fabric. Seeing the ruin of her heart’s desire, she let her tears roll down her cheeks.


She had not seen the fabric label that said “No Machine Wash” with the standard symbol of a washing machine crossed out, that meant that the fabric was not be machine washed.


This is an example of ignoring the label as something that comes attached with the fabric, that most of us never even pay a glance. If we see do we understand what it shows? Or even try to decipher what it is indicating?


The fabric label if given that time in the beginning that it deserves saves us grief from before the first wash along with other things that should be followed if the purchase of our desire has to last very many seasons and in appropriate condition for wear.


Let us see what the fabric label is all about.


All store bought clothes and fabrics (ready-to-wear garments as well as fabrics from the bolt) have these labels stitched on them. A knowledge of the basic care symbols is essential for a number of reasons. The details in the fabric tab and those symbols will tell you everything you need to know about the care and upkeep of your garment.


International care labeling code is based on 5 basic symbols. Washtub (Washing), Triangle (Bleaching), Iron (Ironing), Circle (Dry cleaning) and the Square (Drying).


One thing general about these symbols is that if there is a cross across any of the symbols it denotes the cancellation or negation of the process.


It is common knowledge that fabrics excite, thrill and occupy a substantial part of our psyche. We are not satisfied with what we have every now and then tend to increase our wardrobe. So when we are constantly purchasing new fabrics, should not their care be important to us, and for proper care should not we pay attention to the precautions told to us in simple symbolic form?


If we have not ignoring them, let us henceforth pay attention at the purchase itself so that the precautions for that kind of fabric gets automatically registered in the mind and every time we  purchase the same type of fabric, we already have most of the information needed for its care and safekeeping.


The purchase of a new variety of the same fabric, necessitates only a glance at the label for any additions or change in the information regarding its care.


Below you find fabric care labels for different kinds of fabrics


WOOL FABRIC CARE SYMBOLS



SILK FABRIC CARE SYMBOLS



NYLON FABRIC CARE SYMBOLS



LYCRA FABRIC CARE SYMBOLS



LINEN FABRIC CARE SYMBOLS



RAYON FABRIC CARE SYMBOLS


Laundry care symbols


Some of the most common laundry care symbols are as in the table below



General guidelines – that are applicable across fabrics anywhere



  1. If no water temperature or dryer setting is mentioned, it is indicative that it is safe to use any setting, even hot water and hot tumble drying.
  2. If no ironing instructions are given, it means that it should not be necessary to iron the garment. If ironing is needed to preserve the garment’s appearance, instructions must be given. The label need not mention any ironing temperature if the regular use of a hot iron will not harm the garment.
  3. If bleach is not mentioned, any type of bleach may be used, when needed. If bleach is unsafe, then the label must say “no bleach” or “do not bleach.” If non-chlorine bleaches are safe, then the label should say “use only non-chlorine bleach when needed.”
  4. If no warnings are given, no adjustments are needed to the care process listed on the label.
  5. If the label says do not dry-clean, don’t assume you can. The type of dry-cleaning solvent does not have to be specified if all are safe. If not, the particular solvent to be used should be listed. A “Dry-clean” label means you can use a coin-operated machine. “Professionally dry-clean, short cycle, tumble warm” means you cannot since a coin-operated machine could not be adjusted to follow the process

Washing care symbols for Laundry in more detail



  1. This symbol means that you can launder this in a washing machine with water, detergent or soap and maximum agitation.
  2. This means that the article should not be machine washed. This usually accompanies symbols for dry cleaning care
  3. Machine wash in Permanent Press setting. This is intended for Permanent Press fabrics which have been treated with chemicals to ensure they resist wrinkles and retain their original shape. This will have a cold rinse before spinning at a reduced time. If a piece of clothing is permanent press, it usually means that you shouldn’t iron it
  4. The two lines under the bucket denotes that the fabric should be washed in a gentle or delicate setting only. This is usually used for beaded sequined fabrics, wool, silk etc which needs gentle agitation
  5. A hand inside the bucket denotes that the fabric is suitable only for hand washing
  6. Two broken lines under the bucket means that the fabric is to have the minimum agitation. The number inside the bucket denotes the initial maximum temperature setting
  7. One  broken line under the bucket means that the fabric is to have a medium agitation only.
  8. When there are no lines under the bucket it means the maximum agitation is ok

The dots inside the bucket ( like the numbers) will be representing initial maximum temperature setting for the fabric


One Dot – 30ºC
Two Dots –  40ºC
Three Dots – 50ºC
Four Dots –  60ºC
Five Dots –  70ºC
Six Dots –  95ºC


Drying care symbols for fabrics


1 This symbol indicates Drying


2 This indicates that you should not use the washing machine for tumble drying the fabric


3 Drip dry – this indicates that the garment should be hung without wringing, hand shaping or smoothing


4 Dry in the flat – This is given for clothes/ fabrics which may stretch if hung on a line; they should be laid horizontally in a rack for drying.


5 Dry in the shade – This is given for clothes which may fade or get damaged in direct sunlight


6 Line dry – which means that you can hang them on a clothesline to dry


Ironing Symbols



  1. This shape of an iron box indicates that the garment is ironable at any suitable temperature
  2. This denotes the garment is not suitable for ironing.
  3. Garment is to be ironed at a low heat setting
  4. Garment is to be ironed at a medium heat setting
  5. Garment is to be ironed at a high heat setting
  6. This symbol indicates that you cannot use steam on this cloth though it can be ironed


Dry cleaning symbols 


1 This indicates that the garment/fabric should be dry cleaned at any temperature, with any solvent and any moisture


2, 3 & 4 Denotes the solvent to be used in dry cleaning


5,6,7 Denotes other restrictions



Bleaching Care symbols for laundry


1.This indicates that you can use any type of bleach on the fabric.


2.This denotes that the garment should not be dry cleaned.


3.This symbol indicates that you should only use non-chlorine bleach on the garment. The ingredient list of bleach will clearly say whether it contains chlorine or not.