South and Hickory Facade

Decoding Laundry Symbols

Woman reading the care label on a garment. Image credit: Andrey Cherkasov

November 2023


One of the great things about life at South and Hickory Place is the on-site laundry facilities. And while doing laundry is pretty simple, it can be helpful to know more than just how to separate your lights and darks. It turns out, every garment you own comes with its own laundry instructions. The challenge is that those instructions aren’t always written out, they are graphic.

You’ve probably noticed the symbols that appear on the labels of your clothes but never knew what they meant. It turns out, they provide important information on both washing and drying. That includes information like when to wash in hot water, when to use the permanent-press cycle, or if you should lay an item flat to dry.

Decoding those symbols isn’t as intuitive as you might hope, so we’re providing a simple key to understanding them. Why is it important? Separating darks and lights can help to avoid color transfer. But paying attention to things like water temperature, cycle-type, and drying heat can help your clothes last longer, look better, and even save energy.

Washing Symbols

Most of these make use of a symbol that’s meant to be a wash tub. Lines underneath the tub refer to the type of wash cycle that’s most appropriate. Dots in the tub refer to the water temperature.

Chart explaining the various symbols used for washing instructions on garments.

Drying Symbols

The square symbol is meant to be a dryer. Like the washing machine symbols, dots in the dryer refer to the heat level. Additionally, lines refer to garments that don’t go in the dryer and instead are line, drip, or flat dried.

Chart explaining symbols used on garments to provide instructions for drying them.