What do clothes care labels really mean?

Abi Reid baking away,  reducing food waste across South Yorkshire
Abi Reid
30 May 2023

Every item of clothing we buy should have a label that tells you what fabric it is made from and have up to five symbols that tell you how to best take care of it. Following the care labels in our clothes helps them last longer and can reduce their environmental impact.

Baby grow about to be put into washing machine. Photo by Sarah Chai - Pexels

The most common clothes care labels can be split into 5 groups: Washing, drying, ironing, bleaching & dry cleaning.  Below we’ll show you examples of the symbols and what they mean.



When washing clothes make sure you use both the right cycle setting e.g. synthetics, cottons etc and the right temperature.


Love Your Clothes washing symbols



Drying clothes in the right way can make a massive difference to how long they last and how much energy is used in getting them dry.  It can be tempting to throw everything in a tumble dryer for speed but they use lots of electricity and can damage some clothes.


Love Your Clothes drying guide



If you choose to iron your clothes making sure the iron is at the right temperature and steam setting can help avoid damage whilst still getting the creases out.


Love Your Clothes ironing guide



Deciding whether to bleach clothes at home can be a tricky business, look out for these symbols to guide you and remember that many stain removers are bleach free so work a little differently.


Love Your Clothes bleaching guide


Dry cleaning

There are some of our clothes that are best left to the professionals.  Dry cleaning symbols not only tell us if an item should be dry cleaned but also tell the cleaners what products are safe to use.


Love Your Clothes dry cleaning guide

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