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4 Laundry Symbols And What They Mean

4 Laundry Symbols And What They Mean

Different laundry symbols
2 Feb

4 Laundry Symbols And What They Mean

If you don’t check your clothing labels before washing your clothes, you may unintentionally cause damage to some of your favorite items.

However, we admit that clothing labels and their laundry symbols aren’t exactly easy to decode. Reading all the little icons and symbols can be confusing and may seem like an extra chore on top of doing laundry.

Here are a few of those laundry symbols, decoded for easy reference:


One of the most common washing symbols that most of us have seen on our clothing labels is a bucket of water. This symbol indicates that the clothing item can be machine washed. If there is a hand in the water bucket, it shows that the article should only be washed by hand.

A bucket with an X over it indicates that you should not wash the item, while a circle with an X through it means you shouldn’t dry clean. Conversely, a circle indicates the item is dry clean only.

The water bucket may also symbolize the temperature and the washing machine cycle the clothes need to be washed in. A single dot inside the bucket indicates cold water between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Two dots indicate warm water up to 105 degrees, and three dots mean that the clothing should be washed in hot water up to 120 degrees.

Dry Cleaning:

As previously mentioned, a circle indicates that an item should only be dry cleaned, but a circle with a letter inside may point to the chemical the dry cleaner should use to wash the fabric.

Any bars beneath the circle indicate the amount of care the item requires while cleaning, and the more bars there are, the higher the level of precaution.

Hand Washing:

If the clothing label indicates a bucket with a hand inside, you can wash your item by hand or in a delicate wash cycle at 104 degrees Fahrenheit or less.

Hand washing is preferred for gentle fabrics like cashmere or silk since you don’t want these items to shrink.

A twisted symbol indicates that you can wring the article, but you shouldn’t wring it out if the twist has a cross on it.


Once you’ve washed your clothes, you need to dry them according to the instructions to ensure your clothing looks its best. Each clothing item will also include drying symbols to help you care for it.

A box with a circle inside indicates the item can be tumble dried, while a cross over the same character shows that you shouldn’t tumble dry.

A box with a curved line on top means that the clothing can be hanged to dry, while a box with a line in the middle indicates the item needs to lie down flat when drying.

Understanding these simple symbols and applying them can keep your clothing safe from wear and tear. But if all of this seems like too much work, get in touch with Sterling Cleaners. With our free dry cleaning and laundry pick-up and delivery services in DC, you won’t even have to worry about dropping your clothes at the dry cleaners. Call us at (202) 785-1444 or contact us here for a free quote.

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