Standardized Symbols – Laundry Care Labels

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Have you ever paid attention to the labels on your clothes? Every¬†garment¬†you own comes with a care label: dry clean only, wash cold, tumble dry, etc. It’s there as a guide, aimed to help you clean your clothing properly and not do something that might shrink, damage, or alter it. I’ve done all three!

I must admit, our house is very low maintenance in the laundry department. We either dry clean our business attire or we cold wash, tumble dry the rest. Button down shirts and delicates are hung dried. Care labels are rarely a major concern. I don’t know if that’s reflection of my wardrobe tastes.

On a recent load, I had a new item and was unsure of its care, so I went for the tag and was surprised by the number of symbols. So many, I could not determine what to do without a trusty Google search. The result, a comprehensive legend from the Textile Industry Affairs website. Click here to see the Care Label Guide. Would you know what all of these symbols mean if you found them on the label of your favorite shirt?

I’m usually a proponent for standardized symbols. Think of the Stop sign, WiFi logo, or Women’s restroom figure. All of these are helpful in providing quick recognition. The laundry care label symbols reflect when we may go too far. This level of complexity limits use. Sure, my local dry cleaners may be able to translate the various symbols, but will us Sunday home laundry mortals be as astute? I’m predict I’ll mess up.

When designing for easy recognition, it’s important to keep it simple. Sometimes less is more. If we need a cheat sheet to translate, it likely missed the aim. What do you think?