Have you tried reading those fabric care symbols or tags on your dresses?
What do those little symbols on the fabric care tags mean?
How to read fabric care symbols to prolong the lives of your clothes?
When we buy new clothes, they come with a small tag with seemingly mystical tag.
We look at it as an inconvenience. So the first thing we do is cut off the price tag and the washing instruction tag. But in reality, the life span of your gorgeous new silk shirt, your daughter’s frilly skirt or hubby’s linen shirt or your little hero’s corduroy pants depends on how you follow what is written on that tag!
But do you know what they mean?
Why do we ignore the fabric care instruction tag?
As I said before, we look at these tag as an inconvenience and snip it off the moment we get home. I don’t blame you, it looks like there are aliens who are trying to communicate with you through these tags! That and the fact that it may be irritating for some.
But did you know that these tiny tags are really important?
They may be tiny but hold all the information on how to care for the fabric in question. And yet we ignore them and complain about how our clothes have faded or the color has run in just a wash or two.
Well at times the mistake lies on our part.
The tags have little symbols, but we may not know how to read them. So we dismiss it as gibberish and the poor tag ends up in a trash can.
So rather than cut it off or ignore it, you should read it so that you can ensure that favourite top of yours stays that way for a long time.
Fabric care based on fabric type:
For us, doing the laundry is something we do a lot, but take lightly. We don’t really give much thought to sorting, instead we just look at it as a ‘load’. So delicate fabrics, cotton, denims – all may find itself giving company to each other in the washing machine! I am not saying everyone does this, but most us do it.
Though it is the easy way out, it will cause a lot of damage. So it is important that you wash and care for the fabric, according to the type.
For example, cotton and rayon – the cotton can take heat, so washing it in warm to hot water can get all the dirt out, but if you add a rayon garment to the mix, it may not look like the ‘oh so gorgeous dress’ that went into the laundry hamper!
Now there are many fabrics around and fabric care is a pretty vast topic in itself. So in today’s post let us only look at how to read the symbols that you see on the tag.
How to decode fabric care symbols like a pro?
[fancy_box id=5 align=justify]BONUS: Download the FREE printable of fabric care symbols to guide and help you. [/fancy_box]
So are you ready to find out what those ‘mysterious’ symbols mean? Let us take a look a each of it based on the category they fall under.
To wash or not to wash; that is the question!
Sorry, got a little carried away for a minute there 😛
- Do not wash
Not all the clothes you wear can be washed! To know whether a particular garment will save yourself the trouble of washing, all you have to do is to look! If it has a symbol that looks like a small bucket with water with a cross sign on it, then DO NOT wash it.
If you do not see it, then it means, you need to wash it and save others from fainting.
The clothes that can be washed also fall in two categories-
- Hand wash
The clothes that can only be washed by hand will have a symbol of a bucket with water and a hand, reaching into the bucket. If you have a garment that has this sign, then do not ruin it by putting it in the machine. Wash it gently and thoroughly to ensure it is clean.
Clothes that have this symbol on it are generally delicate, so ensure you use the right kind of detergent.
- Machine wash
The symbol for machine wash is a fairly common one. You would have seen it a million times and yet not realized what it is. The symbol for machine wash is a bucket with water.
Now this symbol may/will have variations that tell you, the temperature settings and chemicals that you can or cannot use to wash it.
If all it has a bucket of water, it means normal machine wash.
Certain fabrics need heat to get dirt and grime out, but how do you know which ones do? For that look out for dots on the bucket. Usually you will find bucket symbols with one, two or three dots on it.
Three indicates that you can use hot water (nothing higher than 50°C), two indicates that you can use water with medium temperature (nothing higher than 40° C) and one dot signifies that you should only use cool water (30° C) to wash the clothes.
There are certain systems that use up to 6 dots where the first 3 is the same as what we saw earlier. 4 dots mean 60° C, 5 dots mean 70° C and 6 dots mean 95° C is the maximum temperature of water that can be used to wash it.
Yet another variant of this symbol is the bucket with water symbol (machine wash symbol) with a temperature instead of a dot. So a machine wash symbol with 40 ° mentioned on it means that the fabric can take up to 40 degrees only.
#3. Type of cycle
- Permanent press
Nowadays, there are many fabrics that are wrinkle free. They may have undergone something known as a permanent press, to ensure that it is wrinkle free. They undergo certain special processes where it is treated with chemicals that prevent it from becoming wrinkled.
To ensure that it remains so, we need to follow all that is mentioned on the label. To know whether a garment is permanent press, look for a plain machine wash symbol with a single line underneath. A garment with this sign does not need to be ironed.
- Gentle cycle
The gentle cycle symbol looks similar to the permanent press, but has two lines instead of one under the bucket.
This one is usually seen on wool or silk garments or dresses with sequins. It can also be seen on stretchable fabrics like lycra. As the name suggests, if you see this symbol on a dress, choose a gentle cycle setting on the machine.
If you have kids who go to school, or a bigger kid who goes to office (read husband), then you know the struggle of whitening the whites. So usually we take the help of some bleach to help us achieve the best possible results.
But can you use bleach on all your clothes? Delicate fabrics may be eaten away by bleach! So though you may be tempted to bleach your kids’ socks so they resemble a detergent ad, please DON’T do it without checking the tag.
The bleach symbol is denoted by a triangle. This symbol has variations that tell you how and what type of bleach to use. Let us look at the various meanings conveyed by the symbols.
- Normal – If all you see is a triangle, then it can be bleached with any kind of bleach.
- Non chlorine – A triangle with two diagonal lines mean that you can only use non-chlorinated bleach.
- Do not bleach – A triangle with a cross sign on it means that you should not bleach that garment.
If you do not see any signs pertaining to bleach on the garment tag, then it means you can use normal bleach as when the need arises.
The next thing we are going to look at, is the drying instructions that you see on a garment tag. You know that different clothes take different time to dry. The reason is quite obvious, they are all made of different type of cloth materials.
Let us start with the basic first!
Did you know that a square with a circle inside means that you can tumble dry it? Let us look at the various types of drying symbols.
- Normal – The square with a circle means that you can tumble dry it on any heat setting.
- No heat – A square symbol with a black colored circle means that you should not use any heat while tumble drying it.
- Low heat, normal tumble dry – A square with a circle and one dot means that you can dry the garment at a low heat.
- Medium heat, normal tumble dry – A square with a circle and two dots means that you can dry the garment at a medium heat.
- High heat, normal tumble dry – A square with a circle and three dot means that you can dry the garment at a high heat.
- Tumble dry, permanent press – This is denoted by a square with a circle and one line under the square. Follow the instructions that you would for permanent press garments.
- Tumble dry, gentle – This is denoted by a square with a circle and two lines under the square. This means that you have to be careful while tumble drying it and so keep the heat settings low. Also don’t dry it for a long time in the machine.
- Do not tumble dry – A square with a circle in it with a cross on it means that you should not tumble dry it.
- Do not dry – A square with a cross on it means that you should not dry it in the machine.
- Line dry – A square with a curved line on top signifies that it should be hung on a line a dried.
- Drip dry – Usually seen in clothes that shouldn’t be wrung. These should be hung, dripping wet from clothesline for it to dry. This symbol is a square with three vertical lines inside.
- Flat dry – A symbol with a horizontal line inside the square means that the garment should not be hung. It should be laid out flat on a surface so it retains the shape.
- Dry in shade – A square with two diagonal lines on the upper left corner indicates that you should dry the garment away from direct sunlight.
- Do not wring – this symbol is pretty self-explanatory. It shows a wrung cloth with a cross on it.
Now that we have dried the clothes, the next step is to iron it. The symbol for iron is an iron. So it is easy for you to read it!
- Low heat – Just like on the previous symbols, one dot in the iron signifies, that you should iron the garment on low heat.
- Medium heat – An iron with two dots, means that the garment can be ironed on medium heat settings.
- High heat – An iron with 3 dots means that you will require/ can use a high heat setting to iron out the wrinkles.
- Do not steam iron – If the iron has two small lines at the bottom of it with those lines crossed out, it means you shouldn’t use steam on it.
- Do not iron – Would you like to venture a guess as to what the symbol could be? An iron with a cross on it!
#7. Dry clean
There are many symbols that fall under this category too, but since you won’t be doing the dry cleaning at home. The symbol for tumble dry had a square with a circle in it, so this can be a bit confusing. The symbol for dry cleaning is a circle.
- Dry clean – A circle on the tag of your dress means that you need to dry clean it.
- Do not dry clean – A circle with a cross on it means that it should not be dry cleaned.
You know when you were in school or college and you had to learn certain things that you thought were baseless because you would really use them in real life.
Fortunately, reading fabric care symbols was one really useful thing I learnt in college! And I am glad that I could share it with you.
Hope this simple guide on reading fabric care symbols will help you read those tags better.
If you still have any doubts or comments, you know what to do. Let us know how much you loved this article.
Stay fabulous mommas!