What do washing symbols actually mean?

Do washing symbols sometimes appear incomprehensible? We explain the most important signs and what else you have to consider.


Sorting laundry may not be fun, but it is extremely useful – especially if you do not want your favorite T-shirt so short it suddenly does not cover your stomach or that it takes on the color of your new socks. Instructions for proper washing can be determined from the washing symbols on the labels of textiles. Numbers in a water basin symbolize the maximum permissible water temperature, which is given in °C. A hand in the wash basin means the garment may only be washed by hand at a maximum temperature of 40 °C. However, it should be noted the washing machine’s hand washing program is usually more gentle than wrong hand washing, which can damage delicate textiles.


If you want to bleach your textiles so they shine again, you can do so with articles marked with an empty triangle. For this you can use chlorine or oxygen bleach. A triangle with two dashes inside indicates that only oxygen bleach is permitted for bleaching.  A crossed-out triangle means bleaching forbidden!

Drying and ironing

A fluffy towel is cuddly soft when it is dried in a tumbler. Of course, other textiles can be dried easily in a clothes dryer. Two temperatures are applicable here: Clothes with one point in a circle can be dried at 60 °C; those with two points can withstand 80 °C. If the textiles are folded immediately afterwards, ironing can be eliminated. If the iron is used, you should take a look at the etiquette: One dot in the iron stands for a maximum temperature of 110 °C – with caution when steam ironing is required. Laundry with two or three dots may not exceed  150 °C  or a maximum of 200 °C to be made wrinkle-free.

What else you need to know

For a few textiles, depending on the symbols, washing, drying or ironing is prohibited. On the other hand, other products must be treated very carefuly. Therefore, if a line is shown under a wash symbol, this means a milder treatment, such as a gentle cycle in the washing machine or dryer for easy-care articles. With the double line, extra caution is required: it indicates care levels with particularly gentle treatment. For fine and noble textiles - such as lace, satin, wool and bras - lint, roughened fibers and even holes can be avoided by using a washing bag while washing. We also have a tip for people who like to save money: The lower the temperature, the cheaper the wash cycle.