Washing labels, or clothing care tags, provide important information from the garment manufacturer on how to safely care for the item. Yet if you are unfamiliar with the terminology that is used, they can be extremely confusing. Here’s how to understand washing labels.
What to Do or What Not to Do
Many times, the washing label will provide mixed instructions, telling you both what to do with the garment and what you should avoid. But if you just glance quickly at the tag, it is easy to get the instructions confused. Slow down and read carefully.
The tag will tell you if it’s OK to wash the garment in the washing machine and, if so, what temperature or setting to use. Here are some common examples:
- Machine wash, normal: This means that it’s fine to toss the item in the washer using your preferred settings. No special handling is required.
- Machine wash, warm: This means you should use the “warm” setting on your machine, or approximately 90-105 F.
- Machine wash, hot: Choose the hottest setting on your washing machine, typically 130 F or above.
- Machine wash, cold: Select your washer’s coldest setting, around 65-85 F.
- Machine wash, gentle: Use the gentle or delicate setting. Although temperature is not specified, it is usually best to wash these items in warm water with a cold rinse.
- Machine wash, permanent press: Use your washer’s permanent press setting. Choose warm water and a cold rinse.
- Hand wash: Do not use the washing machine. Launder gently by hand in the sink or tub.
- Do not wash: Just like it sounds. Look for dry cleaning instructions.
Not all items have specific bleaching instructions. If your garment does not, it is generally OK to use color-safe non-chlorine bleach.
- Bleach when needed: The item can stand up to both chlorine and non-chlorine bleach.
- Non-chlorine bleach only: The garment cannot withstand chlorine. Choose a color-safe, non-chlorine bleach.
- Do not bleach: The item is not colorfast. Do not use any form of bleach.
Drying instructions can be a bit confusing. Here’s what they mean.
- Tumble dry, followed by a setting or temperature guideline: Dry the item in the dryer using the recommend settings.
- Do not tumble dry: Never put the item in your dryer. Look for further instructions or hang the item up to dry.
- Line dry: Hang the item from a bar or clothesline, indoors or out.
- Drip dry: This is similar to the line dry instruction, with one important distinction. Do not wring out the item or manipulate it with your hands. Hang it to dry while still soaking wet.
- Dry flat: Lay the item flat for drying.
- Dry in shade: Hang the garment from a line or bar away from direct sunlight.
- Do not wring: Follow any provided drying instructions, but do not wring out the garment.
Ironing instructions will tell you what setting to use and whether or not it is OK to use steam. Some items state “do not iron.” If your garment does not have ironing instructions, choose a warm but not overly hot setting and skip the steam.
Dry Cleaning Instructions
This is typically binary. Either the garment will state “dry clean only,” or it will state “do not dry clean.” If it doesn’t say, and you want to have it dry cleaned, ask your dry cleaner for advice.
Interpreting washing labels can be confusing, especially when you’re in a hurry. If you’re tired of trying to figure out what to do with your laundry, consider hiring a laundry service instead. It will be picked up and delivered to your door, properly laundered and ready to be put away.
At The Laundry Butlers, we have provided wash and fold service to Concord, NH, for more than 16 years. We are excited to have introduced our new pickup and delivery services in 2016, and are currently expanding to other parts of New Hampshire. Our affordable, eco-friendly services focus on attention to detail and top-notch customer service. Sign up online today, or contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (603) 931-0995 for more information.