Laundry Room Cheat Sheets
Decode the symbols on your clothes

The many options and settings on washing machines and dryers were designed to make life easier, but knowing when to use which can end up overwhelming many members of your household. Luckily, the secret to keeping your clothes in perfect condition is often staring you right in the face (or tickling the back of your neck)! The signs and symbols on the labels of your clothing show you exactly how to wash and dry each item. To keep your clothes in great condition, check your labels against our guide below to know exactly how each piece should be washed.


The first thing to determine is what cycle you should use. Using the incorrect water temperature, agitation level, or cycle length could cause permanent damage to your clothes. If your washing machine cannot perform the proper cycle, you should always hand wash those items to prevent damage, fading, or wear.

While some washing machines may not have a dedicated Permanent Press or Gentle setting, you can often replicate these conditions by manually selecting spin, temperature, and agitation settings:

  • The Permanent Press cycle involves a cooldown or a cold rinse before a reduced spin to prevent new wrinkles from forming during the spin cycle.
  • The Gentle or Delicate setting involves a reduced spin speed and/or length, as well as reduced agitation to prevent damage to your clothes.
What the washing tags on your clothes mean What the symbols on your Washing Machine mean


When it comes to drying clothes, it could be argued that following the proper cycle is even more important than when washing clothes. This is because the intense heat put off by your dryer can quickly shrink, melt, or otherwise damage your clothes. If your dryer is unable to perform a cycle that your clothing requires, you should always Line or Drip Dry those items.

On many models, the "No Heat" cycle is referred to as Cool Dry, Air Dry, or Tumble Dry, all of which mean the same thing!

What the symbols on your Dryer mean What the symbols on your Dryer mean

Other Tags

In addition to washing and drying symbols, you may find any of these tags on your clothing labels. If you are ever unsure whether or not a particular item of clothing can be ironed, dry-cleaned, or bleached, you can always refer to the label! As with washing and drying clothes, you should always follow these instructions to prevent unnecessary damage to your clothing

What the symbols on your Dryer mean

While you may have thought these symbols were a foreign language or a branding exercise, learning how to speak the language of clothing tags can extend the life of your clothes exponentially. Additionally, choosing the settings on your dryer can have a large impact on energy efficiency, potentially lowering your power bill as well as decreasing the impact on the environment.

We hope that this guide takes the guesswork out of your laundry routine and you never have to worry about improperly washing your clothes again. To make it even easier, print out a copy to hang in your laundry room!

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