Have you ever had an experience of not recognizing your favourite item of clothing when it comes out of the washing machine? To avoid shrinking your sweater or slackening your pants, it is important to know how to read the attached care label. Real identity card, the label is providing information on the country of manufacture of the garment, its size, its composition and its maintenance. The symbols used, however, can make it difficult to decipher. We help you understand the meaning of your labels to take care of your clothes over time.

Decipher the graphic symbols of labels

The washing symbols on clothing labels operate according to a system of pictograms, governed by standards common to most countries in the world, with the exception of the United States and Taiwan in particular. There are five:

  1. The wash: provides information on the washing method, which can be done in a machine or by hand.
  2. The triangle: corresponds to bleaching and can be accompanied by recommendations as to authorized bleaching agents
  3. The iron: provides information on the correct maintenance method when ironing
  4. The square: refers to drying, on a wire, flat or in a rotary drum machine
  5. The circle: this logo is reserved for professional cleaning

The pictograms in detail

Graphic details are added to these five pictograms, recommending which instructions to follow for better laundry care. There are a few visual codes to know first:

  • The cross: any pictogram crossed out indicates a prohibition
  • The figures: associated with the tank pictogram, the figures indicate the maximum authorized temperature
  • The dots: the temperature is also represented by dots, their number increasing with the temperature, from 60 ° C to 80 ° C for drying and from 110 ° C to 200 ° C for ironing
  • The lines in the square: recommend natural drying, their direction specifying the positioning of the laundry and their number indicating the drying method
  • The underlined symbol: recommends a moderate to very moderate treatment according to the number of strokes

What to do if in doubt?

The label is an integral part of a garment, but it can be so uncomfortable that you tear it off or cut it up. When washing, it can also cease to be readable by fading or tearing, in which case it is recommended to contact a dyer who will assess the composition of the textile and which maintenance to favour.
If the label remains legible but you are in doubt, you can also rely on the recommendations of Cofreet (French Committee for the Labelling of Textile Maintenance). The committee thus provides a detailed and pictorial summary on the Lavermonlinge.fr site as well as a “My label” application on iPhone and Android. A simple and accessible way to take care of your laundry and permanently ban the words “shrinkage in the wash”.
The labels contain valuable information at each stage of the care of your laundry, represented by graphic symbols. Learn how to decipher them now to enjoy your clothes as long as possible.



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