The care label describes the allowable treatment of the garment without damaging the textile. Whether this treatment is necessary or sufficient is not stated. A milder than specified treatment is always acceptable. The symbols are protected and their use is required to comply with the license conditions. Incorrect labelling is prohibited. A bar below each symbol calls for a gentler treatment than usual and a double bar for a very gentle treatment.
A stylized washtub is shown, and the number in the tub means the maximum wash temperature (degrees Celsius). A bar under the tub signifies a gentler treatment in the machine. A double bar signifies very gentle handling. A hand in the tub signifies that only (gentle) hand washing (not above 40°C) is allowed. A cross through washtub means that the textile may not be washed under normal household conditions.
An empty triangle (formerly lettered Cl) allows the bleaching with chlorine or oxygen. Two oblique lines in the triangle allow only oxygen as a bleaching agent. A crossed triangle prohibits any bleaching.
The iron with up to three dots allows for ironing. The numbers of dots are assigned temperatures: One point means 110°C, two points means 150°C and three points means 200°C. An iron with a cross prohibits ironing.
A circle in the square symbolizes a dryer. One dot requires drying at reduced temperature and two dots for normal temperature. The crossed symbol means that the clothing does not tolerate machine drying. In the U.S. and Japan, there are other icons for natural drying.
A circle identifies the possibilities of professional cleaning. A bar under the symbol means clean gently, and two bars means very gentle cleaning.
The letters P and F in a circle are for the different solvents used in the professional dry cleaner can be used.
The letter W in a circle is for professional wet cleaning.