What Is That Laundry Tag Telling You?

Decode those care labels on your clothes with the help of this handy chart. 

Sometimes the laundry care label on your garments looks more like a set of undecipherable hieroglyphics than a useful tool. But, the pros at Real Simple have offered up a cheat sheet to help you break the code and treat your linens right. Print it out and tack it up in your laundry room for quick reference.

The first thing you need to know is what each of the general shapes mean. The icon that looks like a bucket of water describes how to wash the piece, the square with a circle in the center refers to drying, and the iron instructs you on how to—well—iron. The remaining symbols refer to bleaching (triangle), dry-cleaning (circle), and non-machine drying (square) requirements.

Each of the above mentioned symbols have specifications within them: One dot on the icon means to perform that function on a cold or low cycle, two dots mean warm or medium, and three dots mean hot or high.

When it comes to washing your clothes, most of us automatically separate whites from brights. But the experts say that sorting by fabric is another tactic you can take to preserve your pieces. Combine hardy items (like towels, denim, and twill) and keep t-shirts, nightgowns, and other delicates aside for a separate load.

When drying these pieces, untangle the items as you pull them out of the wash and add each to the dryer separately. This will help them dry completely within one cycle. And don’t overfill the drum. Keep it around half to ¾ of the way full for optimum efficiency.

Laundry Tag Symbols

Get the larger printable version.