Most garments, including common workwear items like coveralls and hi-vis clothing, come with a label detailing how they should be washed and cared for. These laundry care labels provide helpful guidelines detailing how to clean clothing properly and vary depending on the makeup of the fabric. They make it easier to keep your clothing clean without damaging it over time.
What a laundry care label should include
Each label should tell you what the fabric itself is made from. Additional information will include where the product was sewn together.
Alongside this, it will include up to five symbols to provide you with guidance on how to properly care for it. Laundry care labels must be permanently attached, so they are always easily accessible to the owner. Usually, they are found near the bottom hem.
The symbols shown on the care label are detailed instructions that can allow you to decide how best to clean your clothing. You can tell from these symbols whether or not it is safe to wash in the washing machine, what setting should be used, and which temperature you should use. You can also tell if it can be ironed, how to dry clean it, and even more.
These symbols tend to depict a bucket filled with water. If the garment is machine washable, then this bucket will contain dots or numbers representing the recommended maximum temperature:
- One dot = 30ºC (should be washed in cold water)
- Two dots = 40ºC (warm water
- Four dots = 60ºC (hot water)
There are sometimes lines drawn underneath the bucket. One line means you should wash your garment on a synthetic setting, whereas two lines represent a gentle or wool wash cycle.
If your clothing has to be handwashed, then you will see a bucket with a hand on the label. On items where this symbol is present, it is best to wash the item by hand at 40ºC or lower, or to use your washing machine’s handwash programme.
If the bucket on the label has a cross through it, this means it is not machine washable.
There may also be a twisted symbol on the label. If this is present, it means the garment can be wrung out. However, if it exists with a cross over it, it means it shouldn’t be wrung.
It’s not unheard of for people to wash white clothes with bleach to try to bring back some of their sparkle. However, every item will have bleaching instructions on the label, so always make sure to check this to see if your clothing can handle it.
If there is an empty triangle on the label, this means you can safely use bleach. If the triangle has diagonal lines across it, this means you should use bleach with no chlorine. As with the washing symbols, if there is a triangle with a cross you should avoid bleaching altogether.
Drying is one of the most important steps in a washing cycle, and lots of things can go wrong if it isn’t done properly. Garments can shrink or lose their shape, so you should follow the instructions on the label.
A square with a white circle in the middle means the garment can be safely tumble-dried, and any number of dots in the middle will indicate the temperature setting as with the washing symbols. If the circle is empty, you can tumble dry on any heat.
Where the tumble dry symbol has a line below, use the permanent-press setting. If there are two lines, use the delicate setting.
A square with three vertical lines inside represents drip drying, a single line indicates flat drying, and a drooping line coming from the top of the square means hang to dry.
Synthetics and cottons symbols
Synthetics and cottons symbols are typically displayed as a bucket filled with water, as with washing symbols. They sometimes have lines underneath them, which refer to rinsing and spinning. Items of this nature should never be wrung by hand.
If there are no lines, the garment can be spun and rinsed as normal. One line indicates that the spin speed should be reduced. Two lines mean the clothes need a mild wash action but can be spun and rinsed normally.
As before, if there is a cross through the bucket symbol, that item should not be washed and will likely need to be dry cleaned.
These are usually an iron with dots inside, representing the maximum temperature. If the iron doesn’t include any dots, then you can iron your garment at any temperature. Delicate items like wool or silk will usually have one dot, synthetics usually have two, and linen and cotton items are normally three dots.
If you see a cross over the symbol, it means the garment isn’t suitable for ironing.
Dry cleaning symbols
Care labels don’t just work to help people at home wash their clothes properly; they also include symbols to help dry cleaning professionals know how best to clean your garments. A circle indicates that the item is suitable for dry cleaning, and any letters inside instruct the dry cleaner on what process to follow and what solutions to use.
Additionally, you might see lines on the outside of these circles. A line to the top left means no steam finishing, the bottom left indicates to use short cycle. The bottom right shows that they need to use low heat, and the top right suggests reduced moisture.
Our laundry care products
Washing garments in professional environments can require specialised products. We recommend the new Cleanline Super Professional Laundry Solutions. These are specially formulated products designed for use in commercial settings like nursing homes, hospitals, and on-premise laundries. These products can be dispensed through an auto-dosing system.
Alongside the Cleanline range, we have a variety of other laundry products including: