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Laundry symbols on clothes labels

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Clothes have to be washed and cared for correctly to stay in top condition for as long as possible. Here are the essential symbols to familiarise yourself with if you want to avoid coming out with child-sized jumpers and blue underwear that was once white.

Laundry symbols on clothes labels

 - Laundry symbols on clothes labels
Taking care of your fashion finds is easy when you understand the laundry symbols on clothes labels.

Those little labels show exactly how to care for the fabric to keep it in good condition for as long as possible.

That's why we've put together a one stop guide to understanding laundry symbols on clothes labels.

Our guide comes in the following order: washing, bleaching, ironing, dry cleaning and tumble-drying and reveals the meanings behind each of those little picture symbols.

Once you've got your head around them you need never shrink another jumper again!

Normally clothes labels contain a combination of five laundry symbols which tell you everything you need to know to take care of the item.

Washing symbols 

Hand wash only, rinse normally, dry with care.
Machine wash at the indicated maximum temperature in degrees Celsius:
30° for coloured delicates. Reduced mechanical action, normal rinse and spin.
40° for coloured T-shirts and elasticated underwear. Reduced mechanical action,, normal rinse and spin.
60° for coloured blankets. Normal mechanical action, normal rinse and spin.
95° White sheets/blankets. Normal mechanical action, normal rinse and spin.

The lines underneath the symbol indicate the type of programme to use:
No line Cotton programme (max speed). Normal mechanical action, normal rinse and spin.
One line Synthetic programme (moderate speed). Reduced mechanical action, decreasing temperature rinse and reduced spin.
Two lines Wool programme (minimal speed).
Do not wash.

Drying symbols  

Can be tumble-dried.
The dots in the middle indicate the maximum temperature:
No dot No temperature restriction.
One dot Low-temperature dry (maximum 60°).
Two dots Normal dry.
Do not tumble-dry.
Leave to air-dry and iron as soon as dry.
Hang on a coat-hanger to dry.
Dry flat.

Ironing symbols 

Iron at the following temperature:
One dot Cold iron (110°) for acrylic, nylon and acetate.
Two dots Hot iron (150°) for polyester and wool.
Three dots Very hot iron (200°) for cotton and linen.
Do not iron (or iron only in part taking extreme care).

Dry-cleaning symbols on clothes labels 

Dry clean. The letter indicates the type of wash required:
Blank or A Dry clean with all types of solvent.
F Dry clean with petroleum-based solvents such as R113 and hydrocarbon (mineral essences). Cannot be machine dry-cleaned.
P Dry clean with usual solvents such as perchloroethylene, solvent R113 and hydrocarbon (but not trichloroethylene). Can be machine dry-cleaned.
W Dry clean in water only with no products. Cannot be machine dry-cleaned.
The lines indicate restrictions:
One line Restricted wash (quantity of water, mechanical action, washing and drying temperature).
Two lines Highly restricted wash (quantity of water, mechanical action, washing and drying temperature).
Do not dry clean.
Do not wet clean.

Bleaching symbols  

Can be bleached.
Do not bleach.

Essential tips for clothes washing

For all fabrics:
- Avoid high temperatures as far as possible.
- Machine washing is always much better than hand washing (if allowed).
- Drying clothes in the sun makes them matted.
- Use alternative whitening agents to bleach, which attacks the fibres in fabric.
- Lined clothes should always be thoroughly dried.
- Make sure you select the setting for the most delicate fabric for a garment with a mix of two different fabrics when ironing.

More handy info

- Wool shrinks in overly-hot water and loses its shape when hung up.
- Cotton irons well; coloured cotton should be washed separately.
- Silk does not tolerate hot water or tumble-drying and should be dry-cleaned.
- Wool, silk, fabrics that run in the wash and garments with metallic and leather parts should never be allowed to get wet.

Fashion Editor
25/01/2013 00:15:00
Reader ranking: 4.1/5
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