Confusing laundry label symbols explained!

Confusing laundry label symbols explained!

Never ruin an item of clothing again with our UK wash care symbols guide

So-long shrunken jumpers, bye-bye bobbly T-shirts and sayonara stretched-out sleeves – washing your clothes correctly saves you money AND stress. But trying to figure out a laundry label can feel like playing a game of Pictionary – badly (“Is that a crown? And what do all those lines mean?”).

Don’t panic: we have cracked the code so you don’t have to.

Take a look at the list below (and perhaps bookmark this page for future reference!) for a simple and successful laundry day. And to make laundry even easier, try Ariel 3in1 Pods. No messy measuring needed – simply throw the capsule packed with cleaning power into your washing machine drum and you’re ready to go! Click here to buy Ariel 3in1 Pods now.

Washing symbols

This group of symbols lets you know if your garment is safe to put through the washing machine, or if it needs more delicate treatment.


Tub with wavy water:
This means it is safe to machine wash. The number inside the tub signifies what temperature you should wash the garment at. If the tub has a cross through it, that means do not machine wash.

Tub with peaked waves: If it has one line drawn beneath it, this means you must wash this garment on a synthetic cycle. With two lines beneath it, it should be a wool wash.

Tub of water with a hand in it: Hand wash only.

Circle: Dry-clean only. The circle will probably have a letter in it, which tells the dry-cleaner what solvent to use. If the circle has a cross through it, the item should not be dry-cleaned.

Drying symbols

These symbols well help you avoid items shrinking or becoming misshapen when drying.


Square with circle in it:
This means the item can be tumble dried. If there is a dot in the middle of the circle, it must be done on a low heat. Two dots means it can be dried on a high heat. If there is a cross through the symbol, the item should not be tumble-dried.

Square with lines: If the square has three vertical lines in it, this means you should drip dry the item. If it’s one drooping line hanging from the top, this means hang to dry. If it has one horizontal line in the middle, this means dry the garment flat.

Ironing and bleaching symbols

These symbols will stop you from fading colours or doing any damage when ironing.


A triangle symbol means ‘bleaching allowed’, so one with a cross through it means ‘do not bleach’. One with diagonal lines means use non-chlorine bleach only.

Iron: The dots in the iron symbol show the temperature you should iron the garment on, so one dot = cool, two dots = medium, three dots = hot. The cross through the iron means – you guessed it – do not iron.

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* As with any household product, keep Ariel Pods out of reach of children. Learn more at


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