Learn how to read wash care symbols.

HOW TO READ LAUNDRY SYMBOLS: A COMPLETE GUIDE

Laundry symbols can be a little confusing. What do those lines and dots mean and how do you use them to keep clothes looking their best? First, check your clothing label to find the fabric information followed by a series of symbols. Be careful to distinguish between the washing and drying symbols. If your item is stained, browse our stain removal guide before deciding how to wash.

The chart below breaks down the most common clothing care symbols — from washing to drying, dry cleaning and even ironing.

Print this cheat sheet for easy reference next time you wash: 

Printable Laundry Symbols Guide Printable Laundry Symbols Guide

washing symbols

Using the right temperature and wash cycle can help keep items in good condition and help prevent damage. When figuring out how to wash an item, look for the wash tub icon as well as what's inside and below it. Black dots indicate water temperature and one or two lines beneath the tub represent cycle choice. For instance, an item that can be washed with a sanitize cycle will feature a wash tub with five black dots on its care label. This means the item can be washed at up to 160°F. An X means your item shouldn't be machine washed: look for a hand symbol indicating hand washing or a circle for dry cleaning. If you want to use bleach, look for a triangle symbol to determine if it's safe for your fabric.

WHAT IS THE SYMBOL FOR MACHINE WASH COLD?

The symbol for machine wash cold is a bucket filled with water with one black dot in the middle.

WHAT DOES A TRIANGLE ON CLOTHES MEAN?

The triangle symbol indicates whether you can use bleach with the item or not. If the triangle has an X through it, you cannot use bleach, but if there is only a triangle, you can. If the triangle symbol has diagonal lines through it, only non-chlorine bleach can be used.

WHAT DOES 40 MEAN IN LAUNDRY SYMBOLS?

The numbers within the bucket indicate the maximum temperature at which to wash the item in degrees celsius. The number 40 inside a wash bucket means the item should be washed at a maximum of 104°F.

Washing machine symbols guide Washing machine symbols guide

Drying symbols

Drying your item correctly can also help ensure its quality and help prevent it from being damaged. Look for a square on your item's care tag when deciding how to dry. A circle inside the square means it can be tumble dried in the dryer, while straight or curved lines mean it should be air dried. Just like washing symbols, black dots represent heat and lines beneath the square indicate cycle choice. Some clothes may be dried but should not have dryer sheets added - learn more about dryer sheets and when to use them.

WHAT IS THE SYMBOL FOR AIR DRY?

The air dry symbol is a square with a semi-circle at the top if the item should be line dried. If the item should drip dry, the square will have three lines inside of it. If the item should be dried in the shade, the square will have two diagonal lines in the top left corner. Finally, if the item should be dried flat, the square will have one horizontal line through the center.

Drying symbols guide Drying symbols guide

Ironing symbols

Ironing can make some clothing items look their best, while it can ruin other items that are not meant to be ironed. It’s important to check the label on your garment for the ironing symbol before ironing it. The ironing symbol isn't hard to spot—it looks just like an iron. Black dots will indicate heat while X's will tell you whether or not to use steam or skip ironing altogether. If you want to skip this step, select a wrinkle fighting setting on your dryer like the Wrinkle Prevent option with Steam by Maytag that tumbles your clothes with steam for up to 150 minutes after the cycle ends.

Ironing symbols guide Ironing symbols guide

Dry Cleaning symbols

Some items should not be machine washed or tumble dried and instead require dry cleaning. Fabrics that should be dry cleaned include linen, silk, leather and suede. If you see a plain circle on your tag, that means your item is best left to a dry cleaning professional. If the circle has an F inside of it, that indicates that the garment can only be dry cleaned using a petroleum solvent. If the circle has a P inside of it, that means that the dry cleaner can not use trichloroethylene during any steps of the cleaning process. Finally, if there is an A inside the circle, that means that any solvent can be used when cleaning. The solvent is used to soak the clothing to remove stains thoroughly.

Dry cleaning symbols chart Dry cleaning symbols chart
Laundry symbols infographic.

LAUNDRY SYMBOLS GUIDE & LAUNDRY CYCLES

Now that you’re a pro at recognizing clothing care symbols, check out the features that can help you tackle load after load. Maytag® washers and dryers come with a variety of cycles and options for different load types. When you pair your new laundry-symbol knowledge with these cycles, you've got one powerful way to take on laundry day.

And for even more ways to get the most out of laundry day, read about the types of detergent that are best for your loads. Download the

Printable Laundry Symbols Guide

Printable Laundry Symbols Guide

EXPLORE MAYTAG® WASHERS AND DRYERS

Maytag® washers and dryers are built for powerful cleaning and are backed by a 10-year limited parts warranty, so you can fight everyday tough stains and keep your clothes fresh.

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