Care Symbols

Universal care symbols are being used to reduce language on yarn and clothing labels. These symbols indicate how best to care for an item that will be made from the yarn. When giving a hand knitted or crocheted item as a gift, it’s so helpful to include a label from a ball or skein of yarn used for the project so that the recipient will know how to care for the item.

Fortunately the international symbols adopted by the International Organization for Standards (ISO) from the International Association for Textile Care Labeling (referred to as Ginetex) and those developed by the American Society for Testing and Material (ASTM) are very similar, making it easier for consumers to understand no matter where the yarn comes from. However, there is one caveat: an international washing symbol will have suggested water temperature in Celsius scale, not Fahrenheit, while yarn from North America companies will list both.

There are five basic categories of symbols:

  • Washing: a trapezoid-shaped tub with squiggly lines representing water
  • Bleaching: a triangle
  • Drying: a square
  • Ironing: an iron
  • Professional Textile Care: a circle

There is additional helpful care information accompanying each symbol. For instance, inside the washing symbol there might be a suggested water temperature or a hand dipping in the tub to indicate hand washing. If there is a BIG X through a symbol that means: Do Not Wash or Do Not Bleach!

Following is a list of symbols that most frequently appear on yarn labels. If you come across a different symbol, check out the ISO or ASTM websites.


If dots or numbers are shown inside the "tub", they indicate water temperatures.

Washing Symbols


Bleaching Symbols


Drying Symbols


Ironing Symbols