Interpreting Laundry Care Symbols

Last week I got a new clothing item for my daughter. This was a unique item (ScratchSleeves), so I wanted to be sure I didn’t damage it when I washed it. Unfortunately, I was very confused by the laundering instructions provided with the item:

ScratchSleeves Washing Instuctions

I had to search a bit, but I figured out what all these symbols mean. There are actually a host of laundry care symbols! Here’s a summary:

(Click on the image to view and download a larger, printable version of the guide.)

Laundry Care Symbol Guide | The washing instructions for your clothes may be expressed in seemingly confusing symbols. Decode these symbols with this laundry care symbol guide.

The FTC has allowed clothing manufacturers to use symbols instead of written instructions on garment care labels since 1997. These symbols are supposed to be simple and easy to learn, providing a common language across manufacturers and making it easy for consumers to understand how to care for their clothing.

Clearly it wasn’t easy for me to understand the instructions previously, but it will be now that I have this chart! For additional information on laundry care symbols, visit my sources (here and here).

Do you wash your clothes according to the instructions provided on their labels?

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  1. Carol Cook says:

    Hi Shannon! Posted above the washer…THANKS!

  2. Charlotte Thiel says:

    This was a great surprise for me. I would have been totally confused but I, too, will post this in my wash area. I love it that they “made it easier for us to understand” without telling us how to interpret it.

    • Yeah, I’m not sure what is so complicated about the words “wash in cold water” or something similar. However, I do see how the symbols take up less space than phrases on small labels.

  3. I love this! Thanks!

  4. Thanks for this. I could always figure out “hand wash” or “don’t wash”, but other than that am always confused!

  5. This is super helpful- thanks for sharing!

    I hope you will share your post with our Link Up – Idea box:


  6. Wow, I didn’t even know there were this many symbols. Great infographic 🙂

    • Shannon says:

      I didn’t know there were so many until I started looking into it! There are actually some others, but I stuck with the more common ones.

  7. So helpful! I need to post this by my washing machine in case I run across a symbol I don’t know.

  8. What a great resource! I’m totally pinning this to use in my laundry room. Thanks for saving me a lot of time researching (or just ruining my clothes)! Nice to meet you on Motivation Monday…

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