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Washing symbols UK

Washing symbols UK

At some point, we have all picked up an item of clothing and wondered how to wash it, and maybe just thrown it in the drum anyway. You might find that looking at the washing instructions may only cause further confusion! With an array of signs and symbols, it looks much more complicated than washing needs to be. We break down the washing symbols found in the UK.

We take a look at the most common signs and symbols used on clothing labels and find out what they mean. Washing clothes has never been so simple! Let’s start with the easiest and most common symbols.

1. Machine washable

Firstly, this symbol is on most clothing items. A simple bucket type sign means the item can be machine washed. If you don’t see this symbol, your item likely needs hand washing or dry cleaning.

2. Wash cold

As with the previous symbol, this means it is machine washable, but with a caveat. This sign means machine wash but only as high as 30 degrees, you should be able to adjust temperature settings on your machine.

3. Wash warm

As before, this setting means you can machine wash but at 40 degrees, which is considered a warm cycle.

4. Wash hot

This setting is typically used for soiled clothes, or clothes with a stronger material that can be washed at this temperature. This setting means machine was at a hot setting of 60 degrees.

5. Synthetics cycle

One line underneath a bucket (washing machine symbol) means that you should select the synthetic cycle on your machine. This is due to the material of your item.

6. Gentle/ Wool wash cycle

Two lines under the bucket symbol indicate that the clothes should be put on to a gentle or wool cycle. One of both of these settings should be visible on your washing machine.

washing symbols chart

7. Hand wash

The hand symbol indicates hand wash only fabric. This can mean handwash in a traditional sense or use the hand wash setting on your washing machine if your machine has it.

8. Do not wash

For most ‘do nots’, there will be some sort of X symbol. Do not wash is a simple washing machine symbol with a cross through it. Fabrics with this sign commonly needs to be dry cleaned or cleaned in another way.

9. Do not wring

The cross through the symbol means you cannot wring this item, even if its soaked! If the cross isn’t present, you are able to wring out this type of fabric.

10. Tumble dry

A plain circle or a circle and square symbol your item can be tumble dried on any setting. If you see dots inside the circle, this tells you the temperature it should be dried at, starting at one dot and increasing. A cross through this sign means this is not suitable for tumble drying.

11. Do not bleach

Sometimes there are occasions where bleach is necessary, accidents happen! A triangle with a cross through means you cannot bleach this item, so you will need to look for a gentler alternative. If you see a plain triangle instead, you can bleach your item. Always use bleach with caution.

12. Iron hot

There are several variations of the ironing allowed symbol. The iron will have 1-3 dots in typically, ranging from iron on cool, through to iron on hot. If you see a cross through this symbol, this item is not suitable for ironing, think silks.


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