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Origin, History, and Significance of Laundry Symbols

Origin, History, and Significance of Laundry Symbols
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What are Laundry Symbols?

A laundry symbols refer care symbol, is a pictogram that represents a specific method of washing, drying, dry-cleaning, ironing, or bleaching clothing and textiles. These symbols are universally recognized and provide essential guidelines on how to care for garments to ensure their longevity and maintain their quality. They are usually available on the care labels or tags of clothing items.

Origin and History of Laundry Symbols

The concept of laundry symbols dates back several decades, with the aim to standardize garment care instructions and make them universally understandable, regardless of language or region. Early Beginnings: Before the advent of laundry symbols, care instructions were often written out in full on garment tags. However, as the global market expanded and trade became more international, there arose a need for a more standardized, language-independent system. GINETEX Formation: The International Association for Textile Care Labelling, or GINETEX, was founded in 1963 in Paris. This organization is famous for creating care labeling code based on symbols. They develop, patent a wide number of new laundry symbols which began to appear on garments sold internationally. Standardization: Over the years, GINETEX introduces a considerable number of laundry symbols which became widely adopted, leading to a more standardized approach to garment care across the globe. In the 1970s, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) also began developing their own symbols. However, to avoid confusion in the market, efforts were made to align these symbols with the GINETEX system. Modern Day: Today, while there are slight variations in laundry symbols from one region to another, the core symbols remain largely consistent worldwide. This universality ensures that, whether you’re shopping locally or abroad, you can understand how to care for your garments properly.

What Do Laundry Symbols Mean?

Washing Symbols

These symbols guide you on the washing method best suited for the garment. A tub with water: This symbol represents machine washing. When accompanied by a number, it indicates the maximum temperature (in Celsius) for washing. For example, “40” suggests washing at 40°C or cooler. Washing at the recommended temperature ensures the garment’s color and shape are maintained. A tub with a hand: Denoting hand washing, this symbol suggests the garment is delicate. When hand washing, fill a basin with cold water, add a mild detergent, and gently agitate the garment. Avoid wringing it, as this can distort its shape. A tub with an underline: The underline signifies the need for reduced agitation. On washing machines, this often corresponds to the “permanent press” or “gentle” cycle. This setting is gentler on clothes, reducing wear and tear. A tub with an ‘X’: This is a clear warning against traditional washing. The garment may need special care, like dry cleaning or spot cleaning.

Drying Symbols

These symbols provide detailed drying instructions. A square with a circle inside: This symbol stands for tumble drying. The dots inside the circle represent heat levels. One dot suggests low heat, ideal for delicate fabrics. Two dots mean medium heat, suitable for most garments. Three dots indicate high heat, used for heavy fabrics like towels. A square with a line: This is the line drying symbol. When line drying, it’s best to hang garments in a shaded area. Direct sunlight can cause colors to fade and may weaken some fabrics over time. A square with a semi-circle on top: This symbol indicates that the garment should be dried flat. Laying garments flat, especially knitwear, ensures they retain their shape and don’t stretch out. A square with an ‘X’: This symbol warns against any form of drying. The garment might shrink, lose shape,

Ironing Symbols

These symbols offer guidance on ironing. An iron symbol: This means the garment can be ironed. The dots inside provide temperature guidance. One dot suggests a low setting, ideal for delicate fabrics like silk. Two dots are for synthetic fabrics, while three dots are for cotton and linen. An iron with lines beneath: This indicates the use of steam. One line suggests minimal steam, while two lines mean you can use more steam for stubborn wrinkles. An iron with an ‘X’: This is a clear indication that the garment should not be ironed. Ironing might cause damage, such as melting or discoloration.

Bleaching Symbols

These symbols provide information on bleach usage. A triangle: This means the garment can be bleached. If the triangle is filled in or has diagonal lines, it suggests using only non-chlorine or color-safe bleach. A triangle with an ‘X’: This symbol warns against using bleach. Bleaching can cause discoloration or weaken the fabric.

Dry Cleaning Symbols

These symbols offer instructions for professional cleaning. A circle: This indicates the garment can be dry cleaned. If there’s a letter inside, it provides guidance on the solvent type. For instance, “F” means hydrocarbon solvent, while “P” suggests tetrachloroethylene. A circle with an ‘X’: This garment should not undergo dry cleaning. The chemicals used might damage the fabric or cause discoloration.

Significance of Laundry Symbols

Understanding laundry symbols is crucial for several reasons: Garment Longevity: Proper care can significantly extend the life of a garment. By following the recommended washing, drying, and ironing methods, you can prevent damage, discoloration, and wear. Environmental Impact: By adhering to the recommended temperature and cleaning methods, consumers can reduce their environmental footprint. For instance, washing clothes at a lower temperature consumes less energy. Economic Savings: Proper garment care can lead to fewer replacements and repairs, saving money in the long run. Additionally, using the right care methods can reduce energy and water bills.


Laundry symbols, while small, carry significant importance. They serve as a guide to maintaining the quality and longevity of your garments. By understanding and adhering to these symbols, you ensure your clothes remain in top condition for years to come.   Are you thinking about to learn Eco-friendly laundry detergent , other laundry relatedd tips or fashsion? Follow and read our blog section.    
Jahid Hasan

Jahid Hasan

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