The Complete Guide to Wash Care Labels and Washing Symbols

Posted on 26/02/2016 in Product Information, by Jon

Wash Care labels, label clothing, clothing labels, woven labels, washing labels, washing symbols, clothes labels, clothes washing symbols, washing machine symbols

Wash Care Labels

Textile, washing symbols or fabric? Self-adhesive, care or swing tickets? With so many options available to serve a variety of purposes, there’s no wonder that you could be left scratching your head as to which label is best suited to your needs. In this series of posts, we’ll be helping you to understand all the technical terms and business jargon surrounding labels, starting first with the wash-care branch, or washing label, of the expansive label tree. Forget the stress of research surrounding the product itself; we’ve decided to put all the information you need to know into one handy blog post to save you time, effort and money. Sit back,  relax, even grab a cup of tea, and let the label lesson begin…

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Starting simply, there are two main types of wash care label that you need to be aware of. These are care/wash symbol and textile clothing labels. Both are similar; however vary slightly in terms of their purpose, material and what information they display. We’ll be giving you a brief rundown of each type so that by the end of this post, each will be crystal clear and you’ll know which will be best suited to your personal needs and product demands.

Generically, a wash care label is a label that informs the consumer about certain pieces of information relevant to the product purchased, such as country of origin and any care instructions it may have. They are a legal requirement across many regions, despite their form and contents altering depending on which country they are manufactured in or produced for. Wash care labels serve the important purpose of educating customers on how best to care for their products and how they should be used, so therefore should remain attached and visible throughout a product’s lifecycle. One on their most important functions is surrounding product information such as washing, drying and bleaching. We’ll first turn then to the widely used but also largely misunderstood wash care symbols, to help you gain a better understanding of what should be included on a wash care label.


Washing Symbols

 A “˜washing symbol’ is the term generally used for a pictogram which shows how a product should best be cared for. It can be found on items such as clothing, various textile products and soft furnishings, and if interpreted and followed correctly can contribute to the maintenance of a high quality product and the lengthening of its lifespan. There are different standards in regards to which aesthetic appearance the symbol will take depending on the country of origin, yet all symbols will indicate a maximum permitted treatment that is able to be applied to the product in question. GINTEX is the European association for textile and care labelling, and contributes to ensuring that all products meet the standards required in terms of the care information displayed. 

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Symbols such as this tell us information about washing a product. A temperature is usually placed inside the wash tub to inform the consumer what conditions the product should be washed under, however this information can also be illustrated by using a system of dots. A single dot indicates that the product can be washed at low temperatures, such as 30 degrees Celsius, whereas 4 dots correspond to a much higher temperature (60 degrees Celsius). The lines under the symbol correspond to the differing levels of agitation or process that should be used in the caring process. A single line means a mild treatment, whereas two lines indicate that a very mild treatment should be undertaken. If you’d like to learn more about how to interpret and understand each symbol, then keep checking our “˜Product Information’ page as soon we’ll be publishing a complete guide, so that you’ll never be confused again!



Displaying relevant information with regards to fibre content, flammability and the standard care symbols, textile labels are a further type of wash care label. Each can have different levels of clarity, contrast and depth of colour to vary its aesthetic appearance, and can be printed on a variety of digital printers. These

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include the “˜T-series’ printers and other textile printers such as the T4M printer. If you’d like to find out more about the machines that we can provide, then take a look at our “˜Printers and Printer Servicing‘ page (hyperlinked). 

Textile labels can include abbreviations of the materials used to make a product, and some are not as simple as they may first appear. Materials such as wool (WO), cotton (CO) and elastane (EL) are relatively self-explanatory; however some may vary from what you first expect. Cashmere is abbreviated to WS, silk to SE and alpaca wool to WP. These short-hands are a quicker way to inform your customer what materials are used in the product, and limits the text needed to be displayed on the label.  

Increasingly, textile labels are playing an important part in a phenomenon known as “˜ethical consumerism’.

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They display information with regards to where a product is sourced, and therefore could allude to the working conditions under which it is produced. A recent example which hit the headlines was the case of additional textile labels which were being sewn in to clothing garments, produced for high-street retail giant, Primark. Reading “œDegrading sweatshop conditions”, these labels highlighted the continuing problems still facing low-paid workers in developing countries, who often are subject to work in poor, dangerous conditions for monetary incomes

that do not meet the minimum living wage in many instances. As the world is beginning to open its eyes to the appalling situations that they indirectly create and maintain by purchasing cheaper, “˜throw-away’ fashion, labels and the information that they display are likely to play an important role in helping consumers make informed choices as to which products they decide to purchase. 


If you’d like to find out more about the machines that we sell or the services that we offer, then be sure to visit the ‘Washcare Labels’ section of our website, or submit an enquiry which will be answered promptly by one of our team.




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