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Laundry day can be a breeze if you know your way around those cryptic laundry symbols on your clothing tags. Understanding washing instruction symbols is essential to keeping your clothes in top-notch condition. This guide will unravel the secrets behind washing icons, helping you preserve your favorite garments and prevent laundry mishaps.

How to Read Laundry Symbols

Machine Wash: This symbol, often resembling a bucket filled with water, means you can wash your garment in a washing machine. It also indicates the maximum recommended temperature at which to wash the garment. One dot means to wash cold at 80 degrees Fahrenheit, two dots means to wash warm at 105 degrees, three dots means to wash hot at 120 degrees or more. The symbol may contain a number instead of dots, and these numbers also indicate the max temperature (Celsius) at which you should wash your clothes.

Hand Wash: If you see a symbol resembling a hand dipping into a bucket filled with water, it means you should hand wash the item.

Iron: The iron symbol represents ironing instructions. In a similar way to the machine washing instructions, any dots inside the symbol indicate the maximum temperature setting you should use. If you see an ‘X’ over the iron, it means you should not iron the item. If you see an ‘X’ over the iron and there are also two vertical lines protruding from the bottom of the symbol, it means you should not steam the item.

Circles: A circle symbolizes dry cleaning. Letters inside the circle provide additional instructions for dry cleaners. The letter ‘A’ means you can use any solvent, a letter ‘P’ means to use any solvent except for tetrachloroethylene, while ‘F’ means you should use a petroleum solvent only. A ‘W’ stands for ‘wet cleaning.’ A circle with the absence of any letter indicates a standard dry-cleaning process.

Squares: Squares with various symbols or letters provide drying instructions. A square with a circle in the middle tells you to tumble dry, but if the circle is filled in, you should dry with no heat. Dots inside the circle signify heat levels. A curved line in the top of the square means you should hang the garment to dry. Three parallel lines in the square means to drip dry. A single horizontal line within the square means to dry flat, and a square with two lines in the upper left corner means you should dry your garment in the shade. A plain square means you can use your dryer at any heat.

Triangle: Triangular symbols are all about bleaching. A plain triangle means you can use any bleach, while an ‘X’ across the triangle means you should not bleach. If the triangle contains two diagonal lines or the letter ‘CL’ crossed out, you can use non-chlorine bleach.