I’m gonna wash that stain right outta my shirt

As I prepared to do the laundry this morning (this being Saturday, my usual laundry day), I was wondering if I could machine wash a black dress that I love. I located the care label and saw the familiar little symbol (the one that looks sort of looks like the tub of a washing machine) with the number 30 in it, so I knew it was fine to throw it in with the rest of the wash (even though I have no idea what temperature 30 is!) I  never remember (or never knew) what all the other little symbols on the label mean, so I decided it was high time to hit the Google key.

For the benefit of all my FOF pals who are tired of spending so much at the dry cleaners, here is a handy little guide to laundry symbols. I found it at a nifty site called www.textileaffairs.com. I’m not turning into Martha Stewart, but it never hurts to impart a bit of practical info.

Care Symbol Written Care Instructions What Care Symbol and Instructions Mean

Machine Wash, Normal Garment may be laundered through the use of hottest available water, detergent or soap, agitation, and a machine designed for this purpose.
Machine Wash, Cold Initial water temperature should not exceed 30C or 65 to 85F.
Machine Wash, Warm Initial water temperature should not exceed 40C or 105F.
Machine Wash, Hot Initial water temperature should not exceed 50C or 120F.
Machine Wash, Hot Initial water temperature should not exceed 60C or 140F.
Machine Wash, Hot Initial water temperature should not exceed 70C or 160F.
Machine Wash, Hot Initial water temperature should not exceed 95C or 200F.
NOTE: SYSTEM OF DOTS INDICATING TEMPERATURE RANGE IS THE SAME FOR ALL WASH PROCEDURES.
Machine Wash, Permanent Press Garment may be machine laundered only on the setting designed to preserve Permanent Press with cool down or cold rinse prior to reduced spin.
Machine Wash, Gentle or Delicate Garment may be machine laundered only on the setting designed for gentle agitation and/or reduced time for delicate items.
Hand Wash Garment may be laundered through the use of water, detergent or soap and gentle hand manipulation.
Do Not Wash Garment may not be safely laundered by any process. Normally accompanied by Dry Clean instructions.
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NOTE: All (98+%) washable textiles are safe in some type of bleach. IF BLEACH IS NOT MENTIONED OR REPRESENTED BY A SYMBOL, ANY BLEACH MAY BE USED.
Bleach When Needed Any commercially available bleach product may be used in the laundering process.
Non-Chlorine Bleach When Needed Only a non-chlorine, color-safe bleach may be used in the laundering process. Chlorine bleach may not be used.
Do Not Bleach No bleach product may be used. The garment is not colorfast or structurally able to withstand any bleach.
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Tumble Dry, Normal A machine dryer may be regularly used at the hottest available temperature setting.
Tumble Dry, Normal, Low Heat A machine dryer may be regularly used at a maximum of Low Heat setting.
Tumble Dry, Normal, Medium Heat A machine dryer may be regularly used at a maximum of Medium Heat setting.
Tumble Dry, Normal, High Heat A machine dryer may be regularly used at a High Heat setting.
Tumble Dry, Normal, No Heat A machine dryer may be regularly used only at No Heat or Air Only setting.
NOTE: SYSTEM OF DOTS INDICATING TEMPERATURE RANGE IS THE SAME FOR ALL DRY PROCEDURES.
Tumble Dry, Permanent Press A machine dryer may be regularly used only at the Permanent Press setting.
Tumble Dry, Gentle A machine dryer may be regularly used only at the Gentle setting.
Do Not Tumble Dry A machine dryer may not be used. Usually accompanied by an alternate drying method symbol.
Do Not Dry A machine dryer may not be used. Usually accompanied by an alternate drying method symbol.
Line Dry Hang damp garment from line or bar, in or out doors.
Drip Dry Hang dripping wet garment from line or bar, in or out doors, without hand shaping or smoothing.
Dry Flat Lay out horizontally for drying.
Dry In Shade Usually added to Line or Drip Dry. Dry away from direct sunlight.
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Do Not Wring Do Not Wring.
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NOTE: IF IRONING IS NOT A NECESSARY, REGULAR CARE PROCEDURE IT NEED NOT BE MENTIONED.
Iron, Any Temperature, Steam or Dry Regular ironing may be needed and may be performed at any available temperature with or without steam is acceptable.
Iron, Low Regular ironing, steam or dry, may be performed at Low setting (110C, 230F) only.
Iron, Medium Regular ironing, steam or dry, may be performed at Medium setting (150C, 300F).
Iron, High Regular ironing, steam or dry, may be performed at High setting (200C, 290F).
NOTE: SYSTEM OF DOTS INDICATING TEMPERATURE RANGE IS THE SAME FOR ALL IRONING PROCEDURES.
Do Not Steam Steam ironing will harm garment, but regular dry ironing at indicated temperature setting is acceptable.
Do Not Iron Item may not be smoothed or finished with an iron.
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Dryclean Dry Clean, any solvent, any cycle any moisture, any heat.
Dryclean, Any Solvent Dry Clean, any solvent. Usually used with other restrictions on proper dry cleaning procedure.
Dryclean, Petroleum Solvent Only Dry Clean using only petroleum solvent. Usually used with other restrictions.
Dryclean, Any Solvent Except Trichloroethylene Any dry cleaning solvent other than trichloroethylene may be safely used.
Dryclean, Short Cycle May be used with A, P, or F solvent restriction.
Dryclean, Reduced Moisture May be used with A, P, or F solvent restriction.
Dryclean, Low Heat May be used with A, P, or F solvent restriction.
Dryclean, No Steam May be used with A, P, or F solvent restriction.
Do Not Dryclean Garment may not be commercially drycleaned.

PS Another little tidbit: Care labels that say “dry clean only” are often liars. The finest cashmere garments, for example, can absolutely by machine washed in cold water on the gentle cycle. Use a detergent specifically formulated for cashmere or a little baby shampoo. Trust me on this one. I’ve been hand-knitting sweaters from cashmere yarn for years and learned this care fact somewhere along the way from another knitter. You can even put cashmere garments in the dryer on low-low-heat, but just long enough, say 10 minutes,to extract some of the water. Then let the garment air dry flat. (Now I do feel like Martha!)

One Response to “I’m gonna wash that stain right outta my shirt”

  1. Preppy 101 says:

    Way too many symbols. 😉 I use the gentle cycle/handwash cycle for many items that say Dry Clean Only. Dry Clean Only, as you said, is phooey many times. Almost a snob thing – “this garment is too hotsy totsy for a common washing machine”. haha

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