The Guide to Decoding Wash Care Symbols

Has laundry day got your head spinning? Do you wash on cold or warm? Does this shirt require ironing? Can that sweater go in the dryer? You’ve got a lot of questions. And on top of it, the washing symbols on your clothes’ care tags can look less like instructions and more like hieroglyphics or your kids’ geometry homework.

Whirlpool brand is here to help you crack the code with this quick, effective guide. Bookmark it or print it out and stick it in your laundry room. Then share it with your family and friends. Because laundry day should be just a little bit easier.

Decoding washing symbols and drying symbols

Washer Symbols

The wash tub icon tells you exactly how to wash the garment, with underscored lines indicating the recommended cycle and black dots representing water temperature. An X, of course, warns to not machine wash at all.

To help you better understand washing symbols, we have provided some descriptions below.

If your whites are looking a little dingy, consult the triangle on the clothes’ label (if there is one) for bleaching instructions.

Washing symbols

Dryer Symbols

Laundry symbols will tell you not just how to wash, but also how to dry. First, determine whether the item should be air or tumble dried. The lines inside the square will tell you how an item should be air dried. (Surprisingly, there’s more than one way to do it.)

If it can be tumble dried (dried in a dryer), the symbol will also tell you how. Just like with wash symbols, underscored lines indicate cycle and black dots represent temperature. Once again, the symbol will be X’d out if you shouldn’t tumble dry at all.

Here are some descriptions of dryer symbols to help you better understand them.

Drying symbols

Ironing symbols

With dryer innovations like Permanent Press and Whirlpool brand’s Wrinkle Shield option, ironing in modern life is practically unnecessary. But if a particular piece of clothing requires it, or you still like crisp creases in your pants, these ironing symbols, shaped like an old-fashioned iron, will recommend exactly how to do it. 

Ironing symbols

Dry cleaning symbols

Despite how far we’ve come with home dryer technology, some garments are still best left to the professionals. A simple circle will tell you whether the item should be dry cleaned or not.

To help you better understand dry clean symbols, we have provided some descriptions below.

Dry cleaning symbols

Care for your clothes, care for your family

Now that you understand your clothes' care symbols, you can keep your family looking their best. And you’ll stand a better chance of not shrinking, damaging, misshaping, fading or pilling your clothes. Check out Whirlpool brand’s innovative washer and dryer features that take even more of the guesswork out of laundry day. Start with Intuitive Touch Controls that give you customized care for any load.


And then learn more about what detergent you should be using, and how.

Swash Laundry detergent

Care better with HE Swash™ Laundry Detergent

Did you know? Swash™ liquid laundry detergent from Whirlpool Corporation is designed to care for your belongings as much as you do. Its Precision Pour Cap prevents overpouring and waste.

Learn More about what detergent you should use and how.

More laundry tips and tricks

Find the right settings for the day's load

How to choose laundry cycles

Do you know which settings you should be using to wash and dry your family’s clothes? Find answers to all your questions.

Why does the type of detergent you use matter?

Why you should be using HE detergent in your washing machine

Like your young athletes who perform best when they’re fueled with healthy food, your HE washer works best with HE detergent.

Appliance IQ

Want more answers to your kitchen and laundry questions?

Was this article helpful? Pass it on