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How to Read Care Labels on Clothes

Care labels are as tiny as they are neglected. When we pick out clothes, it’s always the size, color, design, and price that we’re concerned about—all the other labels and tags take a backseat. As a result, clothes fade quicker than they’re meant to.

Most individuals forgo care labels because they are tricky to decipher. Which is why we’ve decoded them for you:

When to machine wash your clothes?

You might assume that washing your clothes as much as you can will make them cleaner and brighter. But this could be a recipe for disaster. When it comes to washing, each fabric needs to be treated differently. If you’re wondering how you need to wash your clothes, head to the care labels.

Only machine-wash a garment if a label asks you to. The machine wash symbol looks like a three-sided container with wavy lines drawn above it. This is the regular machine wash symbol, which means that there are no special considerations for the garment.

However, here are a few special cases:

  1. If there’s a single line under the label, wash it with a permanent press.
  2. If there’s a single dot, use cold water. There are two dots, use warm water. If there are three dots, use hot water.
  3. If there are numbers on the symbol, they’re telling you about the water temperature. For instance, 77 mean you can only wash the garment at 77 degrees. Anything above this number may be harmful.

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When to hand wash your clothes?

Just like the machine wash symbol, a hand wash symbol also comes with special instructions. If you see a hand symbol, you can hand wash it. Such garments are delicate and can get ruined if you put them in the machine.

The label for hand wash doesn’t come with special temperature considerations, although you can wash these clothes at temperatures below 104 degrees.

However, if the label contains a washing symbol with an X drawn on it, you’re not supposed to wash the clothes—neither by machine nor by hand. Garments like these need to be taken to the dry cleaners.

The best way to clean your clothes is to leave them to the pros. If you’re based in the Washington Metropolitan Area – DC, Imperial Valet Sterling Cleaners is your best bet. They’re a laundry service that also offers to pick and drop off your clothes. Visit their website and you might get 30% off your first order by signing up.


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