What Do The Washing Symbols On Clothes Labels Mean?

Washing symbols are slightly different in the UK than those used in Asia, The Americas and Russia.

For example, in the United States, the symbols have dots underneath them which represent the maximum heat setting. One dot is a low temperature, while three dots is a mid temperature and six dots is a high temperature.

In the UK, the symbols usually have a specific number which represents the maximum washing temperature.

If you’re not sure what the laundry washing symbols on your clothes label or machine mean, use our guide below.

We’ve only covered the most common symbols but this should be enough to prevent you from shrinking, burning or discolouring your favourite items of clothing!

Washing labelWashing Symbols

These are the most common washing symbols you’ll see in the UK:

Washing symbol meaning the item is safe to wash in water

Washing symbol with the maximum temperature

Washing symbol with hand means it’s safe to hand wash

Washing symbol with a cross means do not wash with water

Ironing Symbols

These symbols explain when you can or cannot use an iron and also whether a hot or cool temperature setting should be used:

Iron symbol means the item is safe to iron

Iron symbol with one dot means iron at a low temperature

Ironing symbol with three dots means iron at a high temperature

Ironing symbol with a cross through it means do not iron

Tumble Drying Symbols

Not all garments are suitable for tumble drying, while others can only be dried at a low temperature:

This symbol means the item is safe to tumble dry

This means you can tumble dry the item but only at a low-temperature setting

The item is tumble dry safe up to the normal heat setting

This means you should not tumble dry the item

Dry Cleaning Symbols

Not all garments and items are suitable for dry cleaning, there are also two different cleaning chemicals used in the process:

This washing symbol means the item is safe for dry cleaning

This symbol means your item cannot be dry cleaned

Dry clean the item but with hydrocarbon solvent only

Dry clean with any solvent except tetrachloroethylene

Bleaching Symbols

These symbols refer to bleaching:

This washing symbol means the item is safe for bleaching

This symbol means your item should not be bleached

This unusual symbol means the item can be bleached with non-chlorine only

Horizontal Lines Underneath Washing Symbols

Lines underneaths washing symbols mean the item of clothing should be washed on a gentle setting, these are often found under dry cleaning symbols:

The line under the symbol means the item can be dry cleaned with hydrocarbon but only gently