Before you call mum for help with laundry, watch this video. Here you will learn the meaning of the symbols on the label of your clothes. And, consequently, you will learn how to wash your clothes without ruining the Acne Studios pullover you got for Christmas. Mum will be proud of you.

Almost no one cares about clothing labels or tags. But they exist for a good reason, to take care of and extend your clothing’s lifespan.

Where did it start

The laundry tag symbols we’re familiar with today were introduced in 1963 by an organization in Switzerland called GINETEX. Until the late 50s, clothes and textiles were predominantly made from natural materials such as cotton or linen, which meant that washing was a far simpler business. However, as synthetic fibres became popular in the early 60s, there was also a technological leap forward in laundry appliances, with more innovative washers and dryers becoming available. To assist with the more complicated care requirements and the increased capabilities of machines, GINETEX was formed, and a set of internationally recognized care symbols was established.

The little laundry symbols found on clothing tags aren’t just suggestions.

These labels can now be found on most textile products, ranging from apparel we wear to home textiles such as carpets and curtains, resulting from a more international and visual language. So, watch the video, learn the meaning of the symbols, and don’t mistake dry-cleaning with do-not-wash-your-clothes-ever.

The basics symbols

Care labels are generally comprised of 5 different symbols, each representing the recommended washing, bleaching, drying, ironing and dry-cleaning instructions. In the video above, you will see that the symbols are simple and logical.

However, if the clothes have to be hand washed, follow the following procedure: fill your sink with water and detergent according to the instructions on the bottle. Turn your item inside out and immerse it in the sudsy water. Let it soak for 5 minutes, then empty the sink, fill it with cold water and re-immerse to rinse. Gently wrap in a towel to remove excess dampness. Do not rub the fabric, especially if it is cashmere. And by no means, twist the fabric to get the wetness out.

Grow up and do your own laundry.

Image via @pexels