Deciphering fabric care labels is almost like learning a foreign language. Gone are the days where clothing was made just of wool, cotton or silk. All three were easy to clean with these elements — water, soap and elbow grease. Drying was easy — back in the day, you hung everything on the clothesline in your yard.
But with today’s clothing, there are a multitude of different manmade fibers in addition to the natural ones. Washing them means making a decision on water temperature, what kind of wash cycle, water level and spin speed.
Help is on the way
To help with how to launder these fabrics, the Care Labeling Rule was instituted in 1972 by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and required manufacturers to put laundry labels on their clothing. The rule was modified in 1984, and again in 1997, when the FTC allowed manufacturers to use care symbols.
There are five basic symbols for fabric care — a washtub with a water wave, a triangle, a square, an iron and a circle. Along with these basic symbols are other symbols for clarification. They include X, dots, lines and letters.
The washtub symbol means just that - the article of clothing can be washed in a washing machine. If there is a number in the washtub, it means the maximum temperature the garment can be washed in. A hand in the tub means the garment can be hand washed only. An X over the tub means do not wash.
One line under the tub means use the permanent press cycle on your washer. Two lines mean use the gentle cycle. No lines mean use your washer’s normal cycle.
This one is simple. The triangle means use bleach. An X over the triangle means don’t use bleach.
Square means drying instructions, and like the triangle, it’s pretty simple. If the square has three vertical lines in it, it means drip dry. A single horizontal line means dry flat. A small half circle near the top means line dry. A circle and an X in the square means no tumble drying, while circles with dots in them mean various heat levels, with one dot meaning low and moving up from there.
The iron figure means just that-ironing your clothing. With an X over the icon, it means do not iron this piece of clothing. Dots in the iron mean the same as dots in the circles for drying, with one dot as low heat and going up from there.
This is where you don’t have to do the laundry yourself-take it to the dry-cleaner. A blank circle means dry clean. A circle with an A in it means any solvent can be used, while P means use any solvent except trichloroethylene. F means petroleum solvent only can be used and a line underneath any means reduce cycle, moisture, and/or heat.
Know these symbols and you will know how to safely launder anything.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado