Do you know what those symbols and logos on clothing labels are? Well, these are what you call Clothing Label Codes.
And while you might not think they are important, the truth is, they matter when you do your laundry and so much more. Before throwing anything in the wash, you should learn how to read clothing label codes!
What Are Clothing Label Codes?
You can find Clothing Label Codes in the Care Labels. If you look at these Care Labels, you would find information about the apparel and a guide on how to clean it the right way.
Consider these details as guidelines. If you want your clothes to last for as long as possible, you might consider taking these into account every single time you do your laundry.
If you are particular with the origin of the garment or its fabric component, then you can find all these important details in the Care Labels.
The Clothing Label Codes might be different, depending on where the clothing is from. However, since 1975, there has been an international body in charge of regulating the care labels.
GINETEX was established in the early 1960s. And since then, the organization came up with a care labelling system for textiles that can be used internationally. The care labelling system is made up of symbols and they mean different things.
In most countries and territories, clothing manufacturers, brands and labels are required to put these Clothing Label Codes on Care Labels. While there might be places where this is not required, it seems that most, if not all, clothing apparel for sale have Clothing Label Codes.
In the United States of America, it is a requirement for importers and manufacturers to follow the Care Labeling Rule. However, if you are in the European Union and the United Kingdom, you are not legally required by law to add a wash care label to the garment.
With that said, it seems the rules are different, depending on where you are from. But given that clothes, regardless of where they are made, are sold all over the world, some manufacturers and brands have opted to attach Care Labels with Clothing Label Codes.
What Do These Codes Mean?
In the International care labeling code system, five basic codes appear on the Care Labels. These five are important elements in the proper washing process of any piece of clothing.
If you don’t know what these five codes are and what they mean, then it’s high time you do!
If you see a symbol that looks like a washtub or wash basin, then it has something to do with washing. If you want to know if you can wash a piece of clothing, then look for this symbol.
If it’s just a plain symbol, you can wash that item in the washing machine. However, make sure you check if there’s any other indication inside the washing symbol. The mark also means something.
When there’s a number inside the symbol, it refers to the highest possible water temperature you can wash the garment. It’s usually in Celsius, so if you are used to seeing temperatures in Fahrenheit, you might have to do some conversions.
When washing certain fabrics, the temperature of the water matters as well. If you see one dot inside the wash basin symbol, it means you should only use cold water.
If there are two dots, you should use warm water. If you spot three dots, then that’s for hot water. Pay attention to the little details. If you don’t wash a certain garment in the indicated temperature, it can damage the fabric.
You should also check if there are any lines under the basin symbol. If there is only one line, that means you should wash that piece of clothing in Permanent Press Cycle mode. If there are two lines, go easy on that garment and set the machine in a gentle cycle.
If there’s a hand inside the wash basin, that means you need to hand-wash the garment. You have to wash this piece of clothing manually.
A triangle symbol is connected with bleaching. If it’s a plain triangle one, then that means you can use bleach. If you see the triangle with an “X” mark, then that means no bleach is allowed.
It’s important to check if you can use bleach for your clothes. There are fabrics that should avoid any contact with bleach or else they would bleed.
If the triangle symbol has diagonal lines, it indicates that you should only use non-chlorine bleach. Before using bleach, make sure you read the ingredients list carefully.
A square symbol represents drying. If there are no marks inside and outside the square, you can go ahead and dry the garment. If the square has an “X”, then you should not dry this at all. This symbol usually goes hand in hand with the “Do Not Wash” one.
You should avoid tumble drying it if there is a circle inside the square and an “X” across it. You can go ahead and tumble dry the garment if it’s just the square symbol with the circle inside it.
If there is one line under this symbol, the tumble dry setting can be set to permanent press. If there are two lines, the setting should be set to gentle or delicate.
You should also check if there are lines inside the square. A curved line means you should line dry the garment. If there’s a horizontal line in the square, flat dry the piece of clothing.
It means drying the garment on a flat surface. If there are vertical lines, you should hang the clothes to dry.
One of the very first things you should remember is that you can’t iron all fabrics. If you want to know if you can iron your clothes, check the iron symbol on the Care Label.
If there is an “X” mark across the Iron symbol, that means you shouldn’t even think of turning the iron on. You should also check if the Iron symbol has dot marks inside. The dots represent the maximum temperature you should iron or steam a fabric.
One dot is for low heat, two dots for medium heat, and three dots for high heat. Most Irons have temperature settings so adjusting the heat level should not be a problem.
If there is an “X” under the Iron symbol, you should avoid steaming the fabric.
There are some fabrics that you should not wash. If you want to clean them, you have to dry-clean them. In dry cleaning, there are a lot of processes involved.
And it might be time to leave the cleaning to a professional. You can look for a reliable dry cleaning service near you for your dry cleaning needs. They would know what to do, including what solvents to use and so much more.
While there might be some DIY dry-cleaning tips you can find on the Internet, it is still best to leave the whole process to a professional. If you can’t master the dry-cleaning procedure, you risk damaging your garment instead.
What Do The Other Details Mean?
Apart from the clothing label codes that you would see on the Care Labels, there are other details that you should take a look at.
There are some labels that don’t just use codes for the washing and care instructions. They have the guidelines written down. With this, you really should not mess up with the washing, drying, and caring for your clothes.
Clothes are made from different materials. Hence, they each have different fiber content or components.
In some countries, like the United States, manufacturers need to indicate the fibers you can find in the garments. You can find these details in the Care Label, along with the label codes.
If you are fond of reading clothing labels, you would notice that it indicates where a particular piece of clothing is made. For some people, the origin of the clothes they wear matters.
Apart from this, clothing brands should also adhere to some laws. For example, custom laws in the US require manufacturers to indicate the origin of the products
Digital Care with QR Codes
Clothing manufacturers and labels have adapted to the changing times. Some garments have QR codes that you can scan using your mobile device. The codes would lead you to sites where you can learn more details about the clothes.
You can read more about the origin of the garment, the fiber content, the care instructions, and a whole lot more. This interactive experience might just attract those who might not be too keen on searching for label codes on their clothes.
As this sounds promising, there are still some who might opt for the more traditional way of figuring out the washing instructions of their clothes. It’s why reading clothing label codes won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Reading Clothing Codes Is Fundamental
If you want to maximize the usage of your clothes, then you should know how to read clothing label codes correctly.
In the beginning, they might be confusing, but you’ll get the hang of it over time! With some practice every single time you do your laundry, you’ll be an expert in no time!
Jessica Oliver is a fashion enthusiast with more than ten years of experience in the industry. She previously managed her own clothing store in New York before becoming a mother of three. With a passion for sustainability and a desire to share clothing care and recycling tips.