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A quick guide to understanding laundry care symbols


Throwing your favourite shirt or jumper into the wash only to discover that its now the size of a child’s garment or is completely ruined once the wash cycle has come to an end is a soul-destroying experience.

With so many different symbols on each garment label, you can be forgiven for accidentally getting things wrong from time to time, but by taking a look at our quick laundry care symbol guide, you’ll ensure that you never shrink, dye or completely wreck another of your favourite wardrobe staples ever again.

The bucket symbol

the temperature

One of the most important laundry care symbols, the bucket complete with wavy water on top tells you the temperature you’ll need to wash this particular item on.

Too cold and your garment might not be as clean as you like, too hot and it could shrink, so pay attention to this important symbol.

Be gentle with me!

delicate fibres

If you see the bucket symbol has a single line underneath, this means that your item is either made from delicate fibres such as silk or has adornments such as embroidery that means you need to wash with care.

Choose a gentle wash setting as anything too vigorous could damage the item.

Hand wash only

hand symbol

If you spot a bucket with a hand symbol on your care label, then this means that you’ll need to wash the garment by hand. This is common for delicate fabrics or those with sequins, so wash and rinse in the sink ensuring that your laundry powder or detergent is suitable for hand washing garments.

Dry clean only

dry clean only

If you discover that your item has a symbol that shows the bucket with across over it, this means that the item is dry clean only and that you shouldn’t attempt to wash it yourself.

Bleaching guidelines


It might be tempting to try and get rid of stains on clothing using bleach, so if you see a triangle symbol on your garment label, then go ahead as this means that any type of bleach can be used. If the triangle features two straight lines inside, use only non-chlorine bleach for the best results and if you encounter a solid black triangle with a cross over the top, put the bleach away as this is a non-bleachable item.

Tumble Drying

tumble dry symbol

The basic tumble dry symbol is a small square with a circle inside. To discover what heat setting you should be using to dry the item, there will be a series of dots with one dot being low temperature, two being medium heat and three high heat.

If you see a tumble dryer symbol with a cross over it, this means the item is not suitable for tumble drying and will need to be line dried instead to avoid burning or shrinkage.

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