What do the Symbols on Care Labels Mean?

It’s important to know and understand the symbols on your care labels before attempting to clean any garment, linen or other textile items. Read below for our quick overview of what the laundry icons mean. If you still find yourself in need help on how to clean an item, please come in to one of our Brisbane elaundry stores and we will be happy to talk you through you laundry care options.

Printable Guide to Laundry Care Labels


This symbol tells you if the item can be machine-washed, hand-washed or not washed at all.

  • Machine Wash: Usually combined with the temperature and cycle marks below.
  • Hand Wash: Clothing is too delicate to stand the environment in the washing machine and must be washed by hand.
  • Delicate Cycle: Wash your delicate item using the delicate cycle on your washing machine and separate from other clothing.
  • Do Not Wash: Item shouldn’t be washed in water, not even hand washed. The Do Not Wash symbol is usually accompanied by a dry cleaning symbol.

Washing Temperature

Using the right temperature is essential to getting the best washing result. Too high water temperature will often destroy the textile or make the colours bleed or fade. Too low temperature may leave the clothing item with stains still on it. The dots inside the symbol tell you the highest temperature the garment can take before being damaged.


Bleach makes clothes whiter, and is useful when white textiles have become dull and grey. There are four symbols connected to bleaching – Bleach, Do Not Bleach and No-Chlorine Bleach. If no symbol is present, bleaching is usually ok, but dilute first.


There are two ways you can dry your washing – in the dryer and on the line. However, some items demand more serious drying, like dripping wet hanging on a line or flat drying. If your clothes demand special drying, search for the box symbol on the care label. If it’s not present, you can use line drying or the dryer.

  • Tumble Dry: The dots indicate the maximum heat setting. If there are no dots, you can use any heat setting.
  • Do Not Dry: Do not put in machine dryer, simply line dry in the shade.


The ironing symbol tells you what the best temperature is for ironing your laundry. If you use a higher temperature than the one indicated on the label you could destroy both the clothing and the iron.

  • Do Not Iron: Do as it says – do not iron! Synthetic fibres can melt under the heat.


If one or several dry cleaning symbols are present it is usually accompanied with a Do Not Wash symbol. Most of the time you don’t need to understand the different symbols for dry cleaning as a professional dry cleaner will know what they mean when they see it.