Adulting is hard enough, but when you have to try to decipher the hieroglyphics on your favorite sweater before throwing it in the wash, it can be even harder. No need to worry, we have the knowledge you need to keep that cashmere soft and clean for years to come.
Let's break down the 5 categories all care tags fall into and then decipher what on earth they mean.
See that little bucket icon? Any time you see that, it has something to tell you about how to wash your clothing. The most common versions you'll see are...
Peep those little dots? They're here to tell you what temperature to wash your clothes in your washing machine. One dot means cold, two means warm, and three means hot. Just set your washing machine to one of those temps and let it do the work for you.
These washing icons are gonna pop up when you have a sweet, delicate little garment. One line under the icon tells you to use the Permanent Press setting on your machine, while two lines tells you to use the Gentle/Delicate setting on your machine. You probably guessed what the hand means, and yes, it means you need to hand wash that piece of clothing. Sorry, washing machine.
This triangle friend is here to let you know all about your bleaching options for a piece of clothing. Thankfully, there aren't too many possibilities...
You have three bleaching options, easy! See a normal triangle? Use any bleach you want on that piece. Does the triangle have two diagonal lines in it? Only use non-chlorine bleach or else you'll get some ugly stains. That filled triangle with two crossing lines means you're not supposed to ever use any bleach on it. Don't even think about it.
Drying is, by far, the most complicated category. Have you ever accidentally shrunk your favorite sweater? Once you've mastered reading these symbols, that will never be a problem again.
Much like our dot friends in the washing instructions, these dots are here to let us know what temperature we can set the dryer to when drying our clothes in a machine (that little circle means "tumble dry" aka use your dryer on its normal settings). One dot means low heat, two dots means normal/medium heat, and three dots means high heat.
If you see any of these guys, you probably have something delicate on your hands. The filled circle means no heat at all, but you can still tumble it in your dryer. One line under the symbol tells you to use Permanent Press settings and two lines means Gentle/Delicate settings (yes, just like they meant for washing!)
You're going to see these icons very rarely, but we're here to help you if you ever come across them in the wild. I bet you've caught on by now, but the crossed out icon does indeed mean that you can't tumble dry that item, which means it should be accompanied by another icon to tell you how you are supposed to dry it. The tiny semi-circle inside the square tells you to line-dry it, indoors or outdoors - it's your choice! The three vertical lines means you should drip dry it. What's the difference between line drying and drip drying? When you line dry something you should try to shape it with your hand and smooth it out a little so it hopefully dries into that shape, then hang it on a line/bar. When you drip dry something, you just take it directly from the washer and hang it over a line/bar, also indoors or outdoors, but without any shaping or smoothing.
Ironing is a hassle, sure, but if you're going to do it then you need to know how to do it correctly. The icons here are very similar to some of the others we've looked at, so see if you can guess what they mean...
Surely you've caught onto the pattern by now, right? Those dots indicate temperature, of course. Since irons have different setting, though, we'll give you the official temperature in degrees Farenheit so you can make sure you have the right setting. One dot is low, 230 degrees Farenheit. Two dots is medium, 300 degrees Farenheit. Three dots is high, 390 degrees Farenheit.
Good news, if you see that circle symbol (outside of a square, since we know that means tumble dry), then you need to put that piece of clothing down and pick up the phone, because you need to take it to a drycleaner. There may be letters inside the circle, or diagonal lines on the outside, but those are all instructions for the drycleaner that you don't need to worry about at all. Find a good drycleaner and let them handle the rest!
Now that you're a care-tag-reading-whiz, you can wash your clothes like a champion. No more shrunken sweaters, no more bleeding dyes, no more stretched out socks. Feel free to buy tons more sweaters, like our new Sailor Sweater or the Fluffy Gigi Sweater, without any fear!