What do the many symbols on clothing labels mean?

The role of clothing in our daily lives is fundamental. Find out how to care for your clothes and what to consider to make them last longer.

What do the many symbols on clothing labels mean?
Important: How do the many symbols on clothing labels work? Photo by Jason Briscoe / Unsplash

Clothes play an important role in our daily lives. It not only serves a practical function but also reflects our fashion style. Taking good care of your clothes is important if you want them to last as long and as well as possible. However, you have also had to discard a garment quickly because it lost its shape, color, or size after washing. And then you start to wonder why, and who the real culprit is - the wearer, the washing machine, improper drying, or the manufacturer. Most of the time, the fault lies with incorrect washing and also with drying, which was probably not done according to the manufacturer's instructions. How to care for your clothes and what to consider to make them last longer.

Probably the first thing most people do when they buy and take home clothes is to get rid of all the tags by cutting or tearing them off. And some do this without even looking at what it says, let alone the care recommendations. To make sure that the garment lasts as long as possible, the recommendation is not only to study how the garment should be washed, dried, and cared for but even to keep the labels - at least for special-care garments. By following all these instructions, the garment will keep its shape and color for as long as possible, thus delighting again and again. Labels on the correct care and composition of the garment are on every item.

It is recommended to turn the garment inside out before washing to prevent wrinkling or wear of the individual elements and colors. It is also a good idea to wash underwear or any other delicate garments in special wash bags. Another important thing is to choose appropriate detergents, both in terms of composition and color. And be sure to sort your clothes before washing - separate white, black and colored clothes - so that you don't end up with a surprise at the end of the day when white suddenly turns pink.

Key symbols to know and follow when caring for clothing


Bowl of water - the product is machine washable.
Bowl of water with the number of degrees indicated - the product may be washed in a washing machine, the number of degrees indicated being the maximum temperature at which the product may be washed. If the bowl is underlined with one or two horizontal lines, the product shall be washed on a gentle cycle.
Bowl with hand - Hand wash the product without scrubbing or wringing. Generally, a temperature of 30-40 degrees is most suitable for such articles.
Bowl crossed out - This product must not be hand washed or put through a washing machine.


Square with a circle - the product can be dried in a centrifugal tumble dryer. If one or two dots are shown in the circle, they indicate the degree of drying possible in a centrifugal tumble drier.
A crossed-out square with a circle - indicates that the product must not be cut out and dried in a washing machine.
Square with a small circle resembling a clothes hanger - the product is recommended to be dried on a clothes hanger.


Iron - the product can be ironed.
Iron with one, two, or three dots - indicating the product can be ironed, the specific dots indicating the temperature of the iron. One dot indicates an acceptable temperature of 110 degrees, two dots 150 degrees, three dots 200 degrees.
Iron crossed out - the product may not be ironed.


Triangle - the product may be bleached with chlorine-containing products.
Strikethrough triangle - bleach and chlorine-based products may not be used.

Dry cleaning:

Circle - only dry cleaning applies to the product. The letters in the middle of the circle indicate the substances with which the garment may be cleaned.
Circle crossed out - the garment may not be dry cleaned.

Knowing the symbols allows you to take good and sustainable care of your clothes so that you don't throw them away or throw them away after just a few wears. A properly cared-for garment can last for years. It is therefore advisable to keep as much as possible of these indications attached to the garment, rather than cutting them off so that both we and the dry-cleaners can be sure that it will be washed and dried correctly. In other words, the result of the wash should be pleasing, not disappointing. Of course, the composition of the fabric is also important, as it influences how the product will be cared for.

Know everything about materials

Viscose - breathable, colorfast, lightweight, and durable. It can shrink and wrinkle after washing. Quick-drying and easy to iron.
Polyester - good moisture repellency, durable, low creasing. May electrify. Can be ironed at high temperatures. Keeps its shape well.
Cotton - breathable, easy to care for, and iron. Good color retention, it can be bleached and washed at high temperatures.
Cupro - comfortable, soft, and absorbent fabric.
Silk - elastic, holds its shape well. Hand washable and not cut out. Iron at low temperature.
Linen - natural, breathable material, does not wear or pill. The correct washing temperature must be observed to avoid shrinkage. Linen garments may also be ironed wet.
Wool - It is recommended to hand wash wool products in cool water or a special washing machine setting. Do not wring out, excess water can only be gently squeezed out. It is recommended to dry spread out. Can be ironed damp.
wool, best washed by hand in cool water and allowed to dry naturally. Very soft, pleasant, retains warmth for a long time.
Polyamide - crease-resistant, repels water, high abrasion resistance, lightweight. Increased electrification.
Lyocell - absorbs moisture, is very durable, does not lose shape, and creases little. Sustainable fabric.

What is pleasing is that fashion is also becoming more sustainable over the years. Clothing production is increasingly thinking about natural, eco-friendly, sustainable materials, using resources more sparingly. Hopefully, more and more brands will think about this in the future and join the responsible circles.

Check out this awesome resource and learn more about the laundry labels on Porch: https://porch.com/advice/laundry-labels