Decoding the Laundry Tags on Your Shirt

You feel something scratching at the side of your waist, inside your shirt. Oh that darned laundry tag! Written in a billion languages (of which English doesn’t seem to be one) and a bunch of symbols that mean nothing to you. Little do you know, it is the secret solution to your shrinking laundry problems.

Ever taken out a piece of clothing from the dryer only to find it’s ten times smaller than you remembered it? Yeah. Learn to read that tag, and you will never pull a ruined piece of clothing out of the laundry again.

Decoding the laundry tags on your shirt

And don’t worry, it’s super easy. First, you should find five symbols in a sequence on your tag. Each number in this sequence simply represents a different step in the laundry process. It goes washing, bleaching, drying, ironing, and dry-cleaning. 

1. Washing

Waves = water. Water = washing. This first symbol is easy to remember!

Decoding the Laundry Tags on Your Shirt

  • A) The number inside the symbol tells you the recommended temperature. 30 is cold, 40 is medium, and 50 and above is hot.
  • B) Sometimes there will be one to two lines beneath.
    One line is permanent press (Don’t worry, it’s a setting on your machine!).
    Two lines is delicate (which is another setting).
  • C) The self-explanatory hand means hand-wash
  • D) If there’s an x on the wash symbol, that means (you guessed it) don’t wash in the machine!

2. Bleach 

When your white shirts get dingy or stained, you may want to use bleach to make it white again. But make sure to check this symbol on the label!

Decoding the Laundry Tags on Your Shirt

  • B) Safe to bleach

3. Drying

Ah, drying. The place where everything goes wrong. Equip yourself with the knowledge now to prevent all future suffering. The symbol looks (kind of) like a tumble dryer. I told you this was easy.

Decoding the Laundry Tags on Your Shirt


  • A) Just your standard permission. You may tumble dry.
  • B) The dots inside the circle tell you how hot you should dry set your dryer.
    One dot means low heat
    Two dots mean medium heat
    Three dots mean high heat
  • C) Just like the washing symbol, one line means permanent press and two lines mean gentle.
  • D) Yep. The cross means do not tumble dry.

4. Ironing

For all those wrinkly shirts that you can’t ignore, here is your guide to the ironing symbols. It follows the same rules as all previous, so it won’t be hard to figure out!

Decoding the laundry tag on your shirt


  • A) Iron at any temperature
  • B) Again, the number of dots here mean low, medium, and high heat
  • C) I’m sure you can tell me this one by now: Do not iron

5. Dry Cleaning

Here’s where the symbols deter from the usual pattern. But in all honesty, if you’re going to dry clean your clothes, the dry cleaner will decode this part for you.

Decoding the laundry tags on your shirt


  • A) You can dry clean
  • B) Dry clean with petroleum solvent
  • C) Dry clean with anything but trichloroethylene
  • D) Do not dry clean (Thank God this one’s constant, am I right?)

To be honest, you won’t have to know this last part. Just pay attention to (A) and (D).

And voilà! In a just a few short minutes, you have become a laundry tag symbol expert.
You’re welcome.

Tell us:

[quote_center]How ready do you feel about reading laundry tags now?[/quote_center]

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