Your Go-to Garment Label Guide

Garment care labels are the key to ensuring your clothes last a lifetime.

Ripped fabric, seams splitting, colour running and shrinking can all occur if you don’t follow the care label instructions correctly. It really is important to pay attention to that little white tag.

Garment labels are usually found sewn into an inside seam of the fabric. Fabric composition, where the garment was made and the required care instructions can all be found on the label. This information is important to understand, but is sometimes difficult to decipher. Rather than writing step by step care instructions, manufacturers use symbols instead.

The 5 main icons that can be displayed on the labels are; wash, bleach, dry, iron, dry-clean. All of these categories contain icons that can explain what kind of washing cycle is appropriate; what water and heat temperature can be used; and what kind of dry cleaning is suitable etc.

1. Washing

This bucket-like symbol indicates how you should wash your garment and at what temperatures.

  • Normal: The ‘normal cycle’ symbol is usually paired with a temperature symbol. This indicates a regular machine wash at a certain temperature.

  • Delicate: Garments made of delicate and fine fabrics may have either a ‘delicate cycle’ symbol for a gentle machine wash, or a ‘hand wash’ symbol if the clothing is too delicate for a washing machine

  • No Wash: When an item can’t be washed in water, the ‘do not wash’ symbol would be display, along with a ‘dry clean’ symbol.

  • Temperature: The highest temperature a garment can be washed at is represented by a washing symbol with dots inside. The temperature can be shown by one to three dots, or an exact degree.

2. Bleaching

Bleaching instructions are shown using a triangular icon. Bleaching chemicals make clothes whiter and obviously should not be used for coloured items, however always refer to the care label, even for white garments. The symbols indicate ‘Bleach’, ‘Do Not Bleach’ or use ‘only Non-Chlorine Bleach’.

3. Drying

The drying instructions are shown by a square symbol, which explains how to dry your garments and at which temperatures.

  • Tumble Dry: Drying settings are shown by differing lines below, and the dots indicate the maximum heat allowed. If there are no dots shown, any heat can be used.

  • Do Not Dry: If tumble drying is not allowed, line drying is suitable.

4. Ironing

The ironing symbol is easily identified by its recognisable shape. This icon shows the maximum temperatures recommended for ironing a garment. Using a higher temperature than the one indicated can burn the fabric.

  • Do Not Iron: This symbol would be found on synthetic garments, as they will melt and burn even under low heats.

5. Dry Cleaning

Dry Cleaning can be identified by a circle shape. These symbols can be hard to decipher, however understanding dry cleaning language is only important for the professionals — so don’t worry too much. Dry cleaning symbols are usually paired with a ‘Do Not Wash’ symbol, if dry cleaning is the required method of cleaning.

  • Do Not Dry Clean: If this symbol is present, dry cleaning is not necessary and other cleaning instructions will be stated.

And that’s it. You’re now ready to crack the code of the clothing care label. Taking care of your wardrobe means you’ll get a lot more wears out of your favourite garments.