21 laundry label symbols – explained!


Has doing the laundry got your head in a spin? We’ve all been there. That feeling of staring blankly at the many washing symbols on our favourite garment wondering what on earth they mean, before taking our chances in the hope it comes out alright.

Never ruin an item of clothing again with our simple laundry symbols guide to the UK’s washing, drying, bleaching and ironing care symbols…

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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’ve cracked the laundry symbols code so you don’t have to. Take a look at the laundry symbols list below (and perhaps bookmark this page for future reference!) for a simple and successful laundry day.

Laundry label symbols

Washing symbols

This group of  laundry label symbols lets you know if your garment is safe to put through the washing machine, or if it needs more delicate treatment. Think of these washing symbols as your complete care label guide to help lighten the load for a better laundry routine.

Washing machine symbols

Tub with wavy water:

This common washing symbol of a tub filled with liquid this means  it  is  safe  to  machine  wash with hot water and detergent.  The number inside the tub signifies what temperature you should wash the garment at. If the tub has a cross through it, this is a no washing machine symbol, that means do not machine wash.  Seeing as there are no lines or bars underneath, it means the clothing can be spun and rinsed as normal.

Tub with peaked waves:

If it has one line drawn beneath it, this means you must wash this garment on a synthetic cycle. It is still machine washable but at a reduced spin speed.  With two lines beneath it, it should be a wool wash, meaning a mild wash action for delicate clothing items. A key reminder is that the more lines or bars there are underneath, the less spinning and rinsing there should be.  

Tub of water with a hand in it:

Hand wash only. This is a no washing machine symbol, whereby the clothing should not be washed in a machine and instead very gently by hand at 40°C or lower.


Dry-clean only symbol. A circle means that the clothing is suitable for dry cleaning and the circle will often have a letter in it, which tells the dry-cleaner what solvent to use. The letter A means any solvent can be used, the letter P means any solvent except Trichloroethylene, and the letter F means Petroleum solvent only. If the circle has a cross through it, the item should not be dry-cleaned.

Drying symbols

So you’ve successfully washed your clothes, but you’re not home and dry just yet as drying your clothes can often be where it goes wrong. These drying symbols include everything from tumble drying to natural drying and will help you avoid items shrinking or becoming misshapen when drying.

Drying symbols

Square with circle in it:

This being one of the most common of drying symbols 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 it, this is the do not tumble dry symbol, so the item is not suitable to 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. Pay attention to not only the bleaching symbols but also ironing symbols to be sure to always keep your clothes in pristine condition.

Ironing and bleaching symbols


A triangle symbol means ‘bleaching allowed’ when necessary in a dilute solution, so one with a cross through it  is the ‘do not bleach symbol’. One with diagonal lines means you can use a non-chlorine colour-safe bleach only.


The dots in the iron symbol show the temperature you should iron the garment on.  One dot = cool, low heat for delicate items like wool or silk, two dots = medium heat for synthetic materials, three dots = hot heat for linen or cotton clothing. The cross through the iron means – you guessed it – do not iron symbol.

So now you really know laundry symbols! And to make laundry day even easier, try new Ariel+ collection – there’s one to suit every laundry need. Even better, there’s no messy measuring needed – simply throw the capsule packed with cleaning power into your washing machine drum and you’re ready to go!

New Ariel + collection

The unique multi-compartment design of the Ariel+ range keeps the ingredients stable and separate until they reach the wash. The innovative film dissolves completely upon contact with water to release the powerful technologies that tackle a broad range of stains and odours with just the right amount of detergent.

  • New Ariel All-in-1 PODs +OXI Stain Removers Effect deliver our best stain removing power yet. These super concentrated washing capsules are boosted with high-efficiency enzymes so you get an outstanding Ariel clean, even at low temperatures.
  • Designed to keep your clothes brilliantly clean and smelling incredibly fresh, new Ariel All-in-1 PODS +Lenor Freshness will give your clothes room-filling freshness. Fortified with extra scent boosters and motion activated perfume bubbles, these super-concentrated capsules offer our freshest clean yet.

Have you ever been caught out and misunderstood laundry care symbols?
Let us know your stories in the comments below!