When you’re a child, your parents are usually kind enough to wash your clothes for you. This means that, when you become a responsible adult and have to wash your own clothes, it can be a bit of a shock. Especially if you own clothes which can’t be shoved in a standard mixed load wash at 40°C.
Most clothes include written washing instructions on the label, but will usually also have 5 symbols on which tell you what temperature you should wash it, whether the clothes can be bleached, tumble-dried or ironed, or whether you should take them along to the dry cleaners. These symbols are essentially a de-facto international standard, which is handy if you’ve bought clothes overseas and the care label isn’t in English.
To help you decipher these symbols, there’s an iOS app called Laundry Day. Give it access to your iPhone’s camera, and then point it at the care label of the garment in question. It’ll do its best to identify the symbols, and, with a tap of the screen, it’ll explain what each symbol means in plain English.
I found that the camera struggled a bit, especially on labels where the text had faded following many washes. In most cases, it wasn’t able to correctly identify all five symbols.
Fortunately, the first tab of the app shows you every possible symbol, so if you’re having no luck with the camera, you can manually select the symbols and still get the information in a readable format. The last tab, ‘Help & About’, also offers some general tips for working with certain types of fabric like silk and wool. There’s a checklist as well – did you empty the pockets first?
It’s a handy little app and I could see many students wanting to use it when they first go to university come September. For years, our student magazine at Bradford used to have a page about washing clothes, with an explainer for the various symbols, in the freshers week issue. I suppose this is the more modern equivalent of it. And it’s more accurate than this list.
Laundry Day is 79p, and available on the App Store for iPhone.