Ever spot those curious pictographs on the care tags attached to your clothing and wonder what they mean? REI's interpretive guide explains all:

Washing

Symbol     Written Instructions Notes
    Machine wash:
Normal
Any water temp, any detergent
Or Machine wash:
Cold
Max water temp:
85°F (30°C)
Or Machine wash:
Warm
Max water temp:
105°F (40°C)
Or Machine wash:
Hot
Max water temp:
120°F (50°C)

Note: Additional hot-temperature symbols include up to 6 dots (200°F/95°C max).

Machine wash: Permanent press
Machine wash: Gentle or delicate
Hand wash
Do not wash Look for dry cleaning instructions

Note: Dots and underlines are sometimes used in combination with other symbols.

Bleach (if needed) Any bleach OK
Non-chlorine bleach (if needed) Only color-safe bleach OK
Do not bleach

Dry Cleaning

Dry clean
Do not dry clean

Note: Several special-situation symbols for dry cleaning are not included in this list.

Drying

Tumble dry: Normal
Tumble dry: Normal, low heat
Tumble dry: Normal, medium heat
Tumble dry: Normal, high heat
Tumble dry: Normal, no heat
Tumble dry: Permanent press
Tumble dry: Gentle
Do not tumble dry
Do not dry
Line dry
Drip dry
Dry flat
Dry in shade
Do not wring

Ironing

Iron: Any temp (with or without steam)
Iron: Low (with or without steam)
Iron: Medium (with or without steam)
Iron: High (with or without steam)
Do not steam
Do not iron

Examples

The following examples are common symbol combinations you might see displayed on care-instruction tags. We interpret each group:

Translation: Machine-wash in warm water on gentle cycle (note the 2 underlines beneath the wash basin; they indicate that the gentle cycle should be used); tumble dry low on gentle cycle (2 underlines again); non-chlorine bleach OK if needed; may be ironed on low heat (with or without steam); do not dry clean.

Translation: Hand-wash in any water temperature; line dry; do not dry clean; no bleach; do not iron.

Translation: Machine-wash in hot water; any bleach OK if needed; tumble dry on medium heat; may be ironed on medium heat (with or without steam); do not dry clean.