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Don’t Destroy Your Laundry: Understanding Fabric Care Symbols

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If your wardrobe mainly consists of cotton fabrics, then you may not have much trouble sorting your laundry and washing it correctly. However, if you have some delicate fabrics that require special care, it’s important that you pay attention to the fabric care symbols located on the tags of your clothing. These symbols provide you with instructions on how to properly clean your clothing based on the type of material its made of. Failure to follow these helpful instructions could result in your favorite suit or silky blouse looking not-so-perfect when it comes out of the wash.

Washing Symbols for Every Stage of Laundry

Washing Symbols for Every Stage of Laundry

Laundry care symbols feature specific instructions for each step of washing and drying your clothing. There are washing symbols that explain the correct water level and temperature to use with your clothing, as washing instruction symbols that sometimes recommend hand washing. You may also see an iron symbol or two on some items that tell you which temperature you should put your iron on for best results and to prevent burning.

Common Washing Symbols

The “wash” symbol is a bucket filled with water. There are several variations of this symbol that show you everything from what temperature the water should be to how the item should be washed. Dots indicate the temperature level. One dot is for 30ºC, two dots is for 40ºC, three is for 50ºC, four dots stand for 60ºC, Five dots for 70ºC, and Six dots for 95ºC.

Ironing Guidelines

The ironing symbol on most clothing items is shaped like an old-fashioned iron. This symbol features dots as well that help you determine the right temperature for your delicate clothing items. One dot means that the item may be ironed on low heat, two dots for medium heat, and three dots mean that it can be ironed at high heat without causing damage.

Drying Instructions

Drying symbols are a square with a circle inside. The circle will have dots to determine the temperature, or the symbol may have an “X” across it. This means “Do Not Tumble Dry”. Instead you should allow the garment to drip dry on a drying rack or outside on a clothes line. Drying the item could cause it to shrink or tear easily.

Bleaching Instructions

Bleaching symbols are always in the shape of a triangle. A triangle that doesn’t have anything in the middle means that you may use any type of bleach with the item. A triangle that has diagonal lines inside means that you should only use non-chlorine bleach when washing the item. And a solid triangle with an “X” going through it means that you should not use bleach of any kind with this garment.

Dry Cleaning Symbols

Dry cleaning symbols on clothing tags is always a circle. What is inside the circle will determine the instructions for the clothing. Items that are dry-clean only will always have a capital “P” on the inside of the circle. Clothing that should be dry cleaned under normal conditions will always have a capital letter “F” in the center. And circles that have an “X” crossing it out mean that you shouldn’t dry clean this item.

Basic Laundry Care Tips

There are millions of tips out there for how to get stains out of various fabrics, or the correct way to care for silk, but which of these tips work? Here are some tried and true methods for laundry care that everyone should know to keep their clothing looking its best.

Helpful Tips for Silk

While most people will claim that its best to dry clean silk, you can also hand wash silk items to keep them in pristine condition.

All items that are labeled as “washable silk” should be washed on the gentle cycle inside of a mesh bag. Then hang them on a padded hanger to air dry.

You should always store silk items in a dry, dark area. Never keep it stored in plastic since the fabric needs to breathe.

To prevent loss of color and keep your silk items looking their best, add three tablespoons of white vinegar for every two quarts of water when hand washing silk items.

How to Wash and Care for Cashmere

It is always best to wash cashmere by hand in cold water. Use a baby shampoo or Woolite to protect the fabric and ensure optimal softness.

Fold cashmere sweaters in thirds so that they don’t develop a fold line in the front.

If you do dry-clean your cashmere, you should remove all garments from the plastic bags immediately. Wrap them up in tissue paper and place in a cedar scented bag instead to help preserve the look and feel.

Doing the laundry shouldn’t be a confusing task, but it can be for many people, especially those who don’t understand the basic laundry symbols. By gaining more knowledge on how to care for specific fabrics, you will be able to protect your prized wardrobe items and lower the risk of ruining your most expensive clothing.

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