Professional Household Management includes decoding Laundry Care labels
by Vicky Horner
I saw this picture posted on Facebook last week. It made me laugh. But then I thought, “Well, wait a second, what the heck does that P inside the circle mean?” So I ran to my laundry room to check the chart I have posted inside the cabinet. I knew that the circle meant “Dry Clean” but the thing that was throwing me off was that P inside the circle.
Oh yes; now I remember. The letters in the circle tell the dry cleaner which chemical solvent to use. They use the letters P, F and A.
P – any solvent except PCE
F – the use of hydrocarbon solvents only
A – means any solvent.
The good news is most of us don’t need to remember the dry cleaning instructions.
The four symbols we do need to know are:
Bucket - this tell you the item is washable
Triangle- tells if you may or may not use bleach
Square – tells how to dry an item
Iron- tells the maximum ironing temperature
That's easy enough right?
In order to give more detail to the care instruction, additional symbols are added to the basic symbols.
has a good, detailed list of care label symbols along with an explanation of what each of them means.
Washing instructions are printed in the bucket symbol. A number in the bucket tells you the hottest initial water temperature to use when washing the item. A dot inside the bucket is another way to tell what temperature water to use. The system uses 1 to 6 dots:
One dot means use cold water (75F / 30C) as the initial water temperature.
Two dots mean use warm water, (105F / 40C)
Three dots mean water up to 120F / 50C degrees.
Four, five and 6 dots indicate the maximum water temperature should be 140F, 160F and 200F respectively.
Other symbols you might see are:
A bucket with a line underneath – use the permanent Press cycle
Two lines underneath means use the delicate cycle.
A hand in the bucket means hand wash
An X through the bucket means do not wash
Next you will see the triangle; “to bleach or not to bleach”
A triangle means bleach is ok, use as directed by the manufacturer
A triangle with an X over it – do not bleach
A triangle with diagonal lines through it means use non-chlorine bleach
A Square shows how to dry an item.
A “dash” in the center of a square would tell you to dry the item flat, three vertical lines mean let the item drip dry .
If there is a circle inside the square that means the item can be tumbled dry with normal heat.
A single line beneath the tumble dry symbol means use the permanent press cycle
Two lines beneath it – use the delicate/gentle cycle.
If there is an X over it, don’t tumble dry
The iron symbol is easy to identify. The number of dots tells about the heat level to use; one-low, two-medium or three- high heat. Dry or steam iron as you prefer. A wavy line beneath the iron indicates the use of a pressing cloth is recommended.
Going back to the picture at the top of the post, you can see that the garment is washable in warm water, do not use bleach, a warm iron is ok and, we could send the item to the dry cleaners (where they would use any solvent except PCE). If we wash it at home, which is what I would recommend, don’t put it in the dryer, but lay it flat to dry.
We teach this information and much more in our Butler / Household Manager
program. Laundry is an important part of managing a home. Seniors especially may have trouble reading care labels, loading the machines and carrying baskets. A Professional Household manager can keep up with the laundry and help an older adult look their best.
Laundry can enjoyable if you are organized and have good space to work in. I remember Oprah telling her audience that one of her favorite Sunday pastimes is to work on stain removal. I was surprised when she revealed that about herself but it made me feel good to hear it.
Is your laundry area set up for your convenience and enjoyment?
Organize your products
Keep the area and the machines and clean.
Create a folding area
Create easy access to the iron and ironing board, sleeve boards and pressing cloths.
Have an indoor drying line, drying racks,
Have a selection of hangers, such as broad shouldered, trouser and skirt hangers
Use a mesh style rack for drying knits flat
Keep scissors and several needles threaded with common colors of thread within easy reach
Have lint removers and clothing brushes on hand
And of course….. post a complete list of care symbols and a stain removal chart
Add music, your favorite colors, a bit of art and a comfy rug under foot. Daydreaming is also recommended.
Before machines, doing laundry was a chore that took a lot of strength and stamina. This why laundry was done on Monday; on the day after a day of rest. Do you do laundry on a certain day, or do you spread it out over the course of the week? Let me know in the comments section below, ok?.
Vicky Horner has been serving seniors and their families for more than 25 years. As an LPN she has worked in Long-Term Care, Home Care and Assisted Living. From her own home, she and a staff of 10 dedicated employees operated a "Bed and Breakfast" style home for seniors for 4 years. Her time as an instructor and placement consultant at a Butler Training Institute led her to her most exciting work to date – helping seniors stay in the homes they love. As a Certified Life Coach, she is passionate about helping people to clearly evaluate their situations and take action to get the results they desire.