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Decoding 37 laundry care symbols

Has laundry day got your head spinning? Do you wash on cold or warm? Does this shirt require ironing? Can that sweater go in the dryer? You’ve got a lot of questions. And on top of it, the washing symbols on your clothes’ care tags can look less like instructions and more like hieroglyphics or your kids’ geometry homework.

All those clothing care symbols can get a little overwhelming, but not to worry – our comprehensive guide will help you become fluent in laundry care symbols in no time. Learn the meaning behind 37 washing, drying, ironing and dry cleaning symbols and get ready to tackle laundry day – the right way.

Whirlpool brand is here to help you crack the code with this quick, effective guide. Bookmark it or print it out and stick it in your laundry room. Then share it with your family and friends. Because laundry day should be just a little bit easier.

How do you read a clothing label?

It is easy to read a clothing label once you know what you are looking for. There are typically two tags to analyze. The first provides information about the brand, where the clothing was made, the size and type of fabric. The second tag contains care instructions indicated by universal laundry symbols. To know how to best take care of your clothing, it is important to know what each of these symbols mean.

What are the universal laundry symbols?

Universal laundry symbols signal to owners how to properly care for their clothes. Whether washing, drying ironing or dry cleaning, these symbols help you navigate clothing care so that you don’t have to guess the best way to treat your clothes.

Washing symbols

The wash tub symbol tells you exactly how to wash a garment, with underscored lines indicating the recommended cycle and black dots representing water temperature. An X, of course, warns to not machine wash at all. If your whites are looking a little dingy, consult the triangle on the clothes’ label (if there is one) for bleaching instructions.

What does 30, 40, 50 and 60 mean in laundry symbols?

The numbers 30, 40, 50 and 60 reference water temperature in degrees celsius. A cold wash is around 30°C (85°F), warm is 40°C (105°F), warm/hot is 50°C (120°F) and hot is 60°C (140°F). These temperatures should be considered the maximum recommended for safely washing that garment.

What does the triangle laundry symbol mean?

The triangle laundry symbol represents bleach usage. An empty triangle indicates that bleach can be used on that item. A triangle with a cross through it says that you should absolutely not wash the item in bleach. A triangle with two diagonal lines inside it means non-chlorine bleach can be used.

How to wash

Do not wash symbol showing a wash tub with an X over it

Do Not Wash

Do Not Wash

Machine wash symbol showing a wash tub

Machine Wash

Machine Wash

Hand wash symbol showing a wash tub and a hand inside

Hand Wash

Hand Wash

Machine wash permanent press symbol showing a wash tub with one line below

Machine Wash:

Permanent Press

Machine Wash: Permanent Press

Machine wash delicate symbol showing a wash tub with two lines below

Machine Wash:

Gentle or Delicate

Machine Wash: Gentle or Delicate

Water temperature

Cold wash symbol showing a wash tub with one dot inside

Cold

30°C or 85°F

Cold 30°C or 85°F

Warm wash symbol showing a wash tub and two dots inside

Warm

40°C or 105°F

Warm 40°C or 105°F

Warm/hot wash symbol showing a wash tub with three dots inside

Warm / Hot

50°C or 120°F

Warm / Hot 50°C or 120°F

Hot wash symbol showing a wash tub with four dots inside

Hot

60°C or 140°F

Hot 60°C or 140°F

Sanitize wash symbol showing a wash tub with five dots

Sanitize

70°C or 160°F

Sanitize 70°C or 160°F

Bleach usage

OK to bleach symbol showing an empty triangle

OK to Bleach

OK to Bleach

Do not bleach symbol showing a black triangle with an X over it

Do Not Bleach

Do Not Bleach

Non-chlorine bleach if needed symbol showing a triangle with two sideways lines inside

Non-chlorine Bleach if Needed

Non-chlorine Bleach if Needed

Drying symbols

Laundry symbols will tell you not just how to wash, but also how to dry. First, determine whether the item should be air or tumble dried. The lines inside the square will tell you how an item should be air dried. 

If it can be tumble dried (dried in a dryer), the symbol will also tell you how. Just like with wash symbols, underscored lines indicate cycle and black dots represent temperature. Once again, the symbol will be X’d out if you shouldn’t tumble dry at all. If you're wondering if you should add dryer sheets to your load, read our article about what dryer sheets do.

Air drying

Drip dry symbol showing a square with three vertical lines inside

Drip Dry

Drip Dry

Dry in the shade symbol showing a square with two lines in the upper left corner

Dry in the Shade

Dry in the Shade

Hang dry symbol showing a square with curved line inside

Hang Dry

Hang Dry

Dry flat symbol showing a square with one horizontal line inside

Dry Flat

Dry Flat

Basic dryer cycles

Tumble dry symbol showing a square with an empty circle inside

Tumble Dry

Tumble Dry

Do not tumble dry symbol showing a square with a circle and X inside

Do Not Tumble Dry

Do Not Tumble Dry

No heat dry symbol showing a square with a black circle inside

No Heat Dry

No Heat Dry

Normal cycle low heat dry symbol showing a square with a circle and dot inside

Normal Dry Cycle

Low Heat

Normal Dry Cycle Low Heat

Normal cycle medium heat dry symbol showing a square with a circle and two dots inside

Normal Dry Cycle

Medium Heat

Normal Dry Cycle Medium Heat

Normal cycle high heat dry symbol showing a square with a circle and three dots inside

Normal Dry Cycle

High Heat

Normal Dry Cycle High Heat

Permanent press dry

Permanent press no heat dry symbol showing a square with a black circle inside and one line below

Permanent Press

No Heat

Permanent Press No Heat

Permanent press low heat dry symbol showing a square with a circle and dot inside and one line below

Permanent Press

Low Heat

Permanent Press Low Heat

Permanent press medium heat dry symbol showing a square with a circle and two dots inside and one line below

Permanent Press

Medium Heat

Permanent Press Medium Heat

Gentle dry cycle

Gentle cycle no heat dry symbol showing a square with a black circle inside and two lines below

Gentle Dry Cycle

No Heat

Gentle Dry Cycle No Heat

Gentle cycle low heat dry symbol showing a square with a circle and one dot inside and two lines below

Gentle Dry Cycle

Low Heat

Gentle Dry Cycle Low Heat

Gentle cycle medium heat dry symbol showing a square with a circle and two dots inside and two lines below

Gentle Dry Cycle

Medium Heat

Gentle Dry Cycle Medium Heat

Ironing symbols

With dryer innovations like Permanent Press, steam cycles and Whirlpool brand’s Wrinkle Shield™ option, ironing in modern life is practically unnecessary. But if a particular piece of clothing requires it, or you still like crisp creases in your pants, these ironing symbols, shaped like an old-fashioned iron, will recommend exactly how to do it.

Cool iron symbol showing an iron with one dot inside

Cool Iron

110°C or 230°F

Cool Iron 110°C or 230°F

Warm iron symbol showing an iron with two dots inside

Warm Iron

150°C or 300°F

Warm Iron 150°C or 300°F

Hot iron symbol showing an iron with three dots inside

Hot Iron

200°C or 390°F

Hot Iron 200°C or 390°F

No steam iron symbol showing an iron with an X below it

No Steam Iron

No Steam Iron

Do not iron symbol showing an iron with an X over it

Do Not Iron

Do Not Iron

Dry cleaning symbols

Despite how far we’ve come with home dryer technology, some garments are still best left to the professionals. A simple circle will tell you whether the item should be dry cleaned or not.

What does A, F, or P mean in laundry symbols?

The letters A, F or P inside a circle on your garment’s care tag indicates that the item should be dry cleaned and instructs the dry cleaner what type of cleaner to use. An A means they can use any solvent, an F means any solvent except Trichloroethylene and a P directs them to use petroleum solvents only.

Dry clean symbol showing an empty circle

Dry Clean

Dry Clean

Do not dry clean symbol showing an empty circle with an X over it

Do Not Dry Clean

Do Not Dry Clean

Dry clean using any solvent symbol showing a circle with an A inside Dry clean using any solvent except Trichloroethylene symbol showing a circle with an F inside Dry clean using petroleum solvents only symbol showing a circle with a P inside

Letter tells the dry cleaner the process A = Any solvent, F = Any solvent except Trichloroethylene, P = Petroleum solvents only

Letter tells the dry cleaner the process A = Any solvent F = Any solvent except Trichloroethylene P = Petroleum solvents only

Care for your clothes, care for your family

Now that you understand your clothes' care symbols, you can keep your family looking their best. And you’ll stand a better chance of not shrinking, damaging, misshaping, fading or pilling your clothes. Check out Whirlpool brand’s innovative washer and dryer features that take even more of the guesswork out of laundry day. Start with Intuitive Touch Controls that give you customized care for any load. Also learn more about how to clean your washing machine to keep your family’s clothes as fresh as possible. 


And then learn more about what detergent you should be using, and how. We recommend Swash® Laundry Detergent, designed for your laundry by Whirlpool Corporation.1 It’s safe for all washing machines, including HE.

Download the Laundry Symbol Guide

Shop Whirlpool® washers

A better clean means better care, and Whirlpool® washers have the clean you need in a style that fits you. With a variety of washing machines with innovative features, such as the Load & Go Dispenser and the 12-Hour Fan Fresh® Option, you can customize every load and care for clothes the way you want to make laundry day a breeze.

More laundry tips and tricks

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1. Swash and the recommending brands are owned and distributed by Whirlpool Corporation.