How to read laundry care symbols
Permanent press? How to read the symbols on your clothing tags
Words— Frank And Oak staff
There's more to caring for your clothing than just separating the whites from the colours.
When you plunk down on a new piece of clothing, just have a quick glance at the laundry care instructions on the tag before washing it for the first time. They don't seem to make any sense at first but there are patterns that make it easy.
These wash symbols with dots indicate at what temperature the garments should be washed. For some items, too high a heat can damage the threads over time so it's important to note the temperature. One dote = 30ºC, two dots = 40ºC, three dots = 50ºC and so on in increments of 10.
Permanent press actually sounds like what it is if you think about it–garments with a permanent press symbol on them have been treated with chemicals to make sure they resist wrinkles. Our drirelease® styles, for example, are permanent press. As are our Easy Care dress shirts.
Hand wash means do not use a washing machine. Do it old school in a large sink or your tub using your hands to rub cleaning detergent into the garment and then rinse it out. Do Not Wash is basically the same as Dry Clean Only. (see guide below).
The Tumble Dry symbols are similar to the Machine Wash symbols. A square with a circle inside of it, the dots indicate at what temperature the garment should be tumble dried at (one dot to three dots).
As with the washing symbols, a single line means that a Permanent Press setting should be used, while a double line means a delicate setting should be used.
Again, heat can damage or shrink certain garments so refrain from picking up an armful of wet clothes and dumping it all in the dryer. Some things may need to be line or flat dried. Which brings us to...
Flat and line drying
Some garments are too delicate to machine dry. Get yourself a dry rack and get hanging. Hang drying your clothes is not only energy efficient and environmentally conscious, your clothes will generally stay nicer for longer with less pilling. The colours will also take longer to fade away.
From one dot (low heat) to three dots (high heat) all the way to not ironing at all. We love a good ironing for a crisp shirt but more and more we love the steamer as a way to get wrinkles out of your clothes. Ironing can be frustrating, it can damage/stain clothes and fumbling with the board gets tiring. You can get a good steamer for under a hundred bucks and we think it's really worth the investment – especially for tailoring.
Bleach. Oof. Is there anything more terrifying? Yes, liquid bleach can make your whites white but it can also ruin everything else if used improperly. With liquid bleach, it must be added to your laundry at the correct time and temperature. It should always be added to water and mixed well before being adding clothing to the washer. Do NOT pour it directly onto fabrics as it will remove colour and even dissolve the fibres (silk, acetate, wool, and spandex are especially vulnerable). If you're using bleach to try and remove a stain, bleach the entire garment so it doesn't spot.
The white triangle means any commercially available bleach product may be used on that item, while the striped triangle means only a non-chlorine, colour-safe bleach may be used. The filled in triangle, as you may have guessed, means no bleach may be used and the garment is not colourfast or able to withstand bleach.
A simple circle means your garment can be dry cleaned. A circle with letters in it means the garment may be dry cleaned but there are some solution exceptions. A good dry cleaner will check to make sure the garment can be used with certain solvents.
And that's really it. Pretty simple actually.
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