What is the Do Not Tumble Dry Symbol (UK)? 

Fabric label for washing and do not tumble dry symbol UK

Do Not Tumble Dry Symbol Meaning 

Tumble drying can be a dangerous game. Too hot and your favourite baggy jumper becomes a hand-me-down to a small child. Luckily, clothing labels do tell us what we should and shouldn’t do. The Do Not Tumble Dry Symbol is very recognisable once you know what to look out for. 

In this article, we’ll explain what is the ‘do not tumble dry symbol’, and how to wash a garment if it has this symbol on the fabric label.

What symbol is do not tumble dry?

The ‘Do Not Tumble Dry Symbol’ is a big cross going through the centre of a square with a circle inside it. The Symbol for Tumble Dry is just the circle inside the square without the cross. 

Do not tumble dry symbol for washing clothes

What to do if it says do not tumble dry?

If an item of clothing says it can’t be tumble dried, it means it will likely shrink because of the heat or spin of the tumble drier. 

We would recommend air drying the item or even having it dry cleaned (but remember to check that the item lists the symbol for this!) 

If you want the item to dry more efficiently than just air-drying, you might consider drying the item on a radiator. The step up from this is a heated clothes airer, which provides enough heat to dry the item quickly without shrinking the fabric. 

Related article: Should You Hang Washing Out Overnight? 

What clothes and fabrics can’t be tumble-dried?

You should never gamble with any of your favourite clothing and fabrics when it comes to washing and tumble-drying. The symbols are there for a reason, and even though they’re confusing, they tell you exactly what you should and shouldn’t be doing. 

A general guide to what shouldn’t be tumble dried: 

  • Silk
  • Wool
  • A beaded or sequined item 
  • Bras (and any clothing with wires that may bend, such as corsets) 

What is the symbol for tumble dry?

As a rule, any laundry symbol featuring a square is telling you how to dry the garment. The symbol for air-drying is just an empty square, for example.

All tumble-drying symbols have a circle inside the square, with different variations of dots and lines relating to heat and spin cycles. 

Square with a circle inside it 

The item can be tumble-dried

Square with a crossed-out circle inside it

The item cannot be tumble dried

One dot inside a square with a circle inside it

Tumble dry on a low heat

Two dots inside the square with a circle inside it

Tumble dry on a medium heat

Three dots inside the square with a circle inside it

Tumble dry on a high heat

Square with a blacked-out circle inside it

Tumble dry with no heat – cold cycle only! 

One line underneath a square with a circle inside it

Only tumble dry using the permanent press setting

Two lines underneath a square with a circle inside it

Only tumble dry using the delicate setting.

Summary of The Do Not Tumble Dry Symbol in the UK

Hopefully, this has cleared up the mystery behind tumble-drying laundry symbols in the UK. Although it seems like a complicated system, once you understand the logic behind them they actually start to make a lot of sense. 

For more washing tips and advice, take a look at some of our laundry guides from Clean and Tidy Living. 

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