What do washing symbols really mean?

washing symbols explained
Washing symbols: explainedKwangmoozaa - Getty Images

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We all want to get through the laundry pile as quickly as possible. The problem is, if you throw every item into one load in the washing machine, some clothing will inevitably end up damaged.

That’s because, depending on the material and design, different garments require different treatments, whether it's that a lower temperature cycle is needed, or hand washing is necessary. The washing label on clothing guides you on the best care instructions to avoid unwanted damage, but with so many symbols, it’s easy to get confused. Here, we break down what everything means, so you can wash your clothes with confidence.

Face the facts

The average Brit throws away 72 items of clothing a year, according to British Wool, many because of damage. Paying attention to how we wash our clothes can prevent discolouration, shrinkage and fraying.

To help avoid damaging your clothing when doing the laundry, it's important to pay attention to washing symbols. These will tell you how to wash and dry your clothes, in addition to giving ironing advice.

Follow our guide

There are lots of washing symbols and they can be confusing. We've put together this handy graphic to explain what the most common symbols mean – print it out, stick it on the fridge, and you should avoid more laundry mishaps!

washing symbols explained
Getty Images

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