You go to throw your favorite sweater or throw blanket in the washer and check out your care tag first.  There on that little swatch of cotton or taffeta is what appears to be ancient hieroglyphics.  Mini irons, squares, circles, triangles, temperatures (in celsius of all things)!!!   Fear not.  We're here to help you understand what those little pictures actually mean and which ones may not be necessary to follow.  

The care symbols you find on your clothing and home textile tags were developed by ASTM, a Standards organization.  Whether you're a fan of the system or not (don't get a UX designer started on why you'd use labels that weren't obvious), the symbols tend to be universally adopted, especially by larger fashion labels.

There's a hierarchy to the system.  Basically there's a first tier or master symbol that stands for a care method (i.e. a triangle for bleach and a circle for dry cleaning).  Then there are subsets of each symbol marking how to wash, iron, dry clean etc.

Usually, with care instructions, the biggest takeaway is if there is something you should NOT do, so if you can't remember each instruction, you can at least understand the master symbols and the fact that a big X through it means don't do it (the last thing you want is for bleach or a dry cleaning chemical to ruin your favorite dress).    

Our favorite trick.  Print a copy of the master chart and hang it by your laundry machine.  Next time that silk sweater or knit baby romper is in your hands for washing machine, you'll know just how to proceed.  

Jessica Diehl