Laundry symbols can be pretty confusing - they're almost like another language in themselves! And if you want to avoid laundry mishaps, it's a language you should get clued up on.
Whilst putting a cotton top in at 40ºC instead of 30 might not be a big deal, wools and silks are a different story.
Today we're talking you through the mystery of washing labels so you can avoid ever ruining your clothes again. As well as explaining each mysterious symbol individually, we also have a washing label guide for you to print out and keep so you'll always have knowledge on hand.
Ready to get washing? Then let's get started!
The symbol shown above indicated an instruction to do with the washing process itself. There are many variations of this symbol to give you more details on exactly how to wash your items for best results, including what temperature, method and cycle to use.
Do not wash - Items with this symbol should not be washed at home. Instead, they will need to be dry cleaned - we'll discuss the corresponding symbols in detail later on.
Permanent press - Permanent press items are those that have been treated to prevent wrinkles and any shape-distortion. They don't usually need to be ironed.
Gentle cycle - Garments that require a gentle cycle are usually made from delicate fabrics such as wool or silk, or those that have details that could be damaged by a normal cycle.
Hand wash - Clothes marked with a hand wash symbol should never be put in the washing machine. Instead, wash them by hand in a small basin with some special detergent (those intended for hand wash use are normally much milder).
Dots - each dot signifies a different temperature:
1 = 30ºC
2 = 40ºC
3 = 50ºC
4 = 60ºC
Tumble dry symbols
The basic symbol for tumble drying is a square with a circle inside. There are variations to the symbol which tell you exactly how to dry your clothes and also what temperature to use to ensure they do not fade or worse, shrink, in the wash.
The laundry symbol of a square without the accompanying circle signifies drying without the use of a tumble dryer, and again, has several variations shown below.
Drip dry -synthetic garments are usually ok to be hung up straight out of the wash, even when dripping wet. They usually dry without wrinkles when hung up to 'drip-dry' and therefore don't need ironing either.
Hang to dry - items that are marked with the 'hang to dry' symbol can be popped over a drying rack or hung up to dry on hangers.
Dry flat - garments that need to be dried flat are usually relatively heavy, and therefore shouldn't be hung in case the weight alters their shape. Place on flat surfaces or flat across drying racks to dry.
Dots - as before, dots signify different temperatures:
1 = low heat
2 = medium heat
3 = high heat
Ever burnt a hole through a piece of clothing? Getting clued up on the different ironing symbols will ensure it never happens again. The symbol above stands for ironing and variations on it help you determine what temperature or setting to use.
No steam - Some materials don't react well to steam, or to put it another way, the combination of water and heat. If you see this label, be sure to turn off the steam function on your iron before ironing.
Dry cleaning symbols
We've arrived - the dreaded dry clean only symbol! This one means your garment could be damaged in the wash and should be laundered professionally. It may be more expensive, but trust us, it's not worth risking.
Letters - dry cleaning symbols with letters insides are there to tell the professionals how to treat the garment, so you don't need to pay too much attention to these.
Keep an eye out for laundry symbols on all your clothes to prevent any mishaps! What's the worst washing accident you've ever had? Let us know in the comments below!