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By Heloise

This article was published January 10, 2014 at 2:06 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: Can you help me decipher garment-care labels? Some of them just have symbols, and they can be confusing to understand at times.

  • Ashley in Tennessee

DEAR READER: You are right, some of the new ones are a little confusing. So here are some hints to help decipher their meanings:

A “ basin” or “washing machine tub” symbol with a wave (showing“water”) means it can be put in a washing machine. If it has two lines under it, that means wash on delicate. A hand in the water means hand-wash.

A triangle is the symbol for bleach. If it has two lines, use nonchlorine bleach.

A square (often with a circle in the center) is the symbol for drying. Two lines underneath means dry on a delicate or gentle cycle. If there are dots present in the circle, that designates settings. No dots means any heat, three dots is high heat, two is medium, one is low.

An iron designates ironing recommendations and usually will give you a temperature recommendation.

A circle is the symbol for dry-clean. There may be other letters or symbols near or in the circle, but your dry cleaner will know what they mean.

For any of these symbols, if there is an X through it, it means do not do what it symbolizes. For example, an X through an iron means do not iron. There are a lot more symbols, too many to try to explain here. Go to my website,, for a direct link to several places that will show you the symbols.

DEAR HELOISE: The hint to leave an article of clothing with your scent on it where a lost pet can find it brought back some memories. I started hunting with my father at a young age. Often, when using dogs to hunt, one of them would get on a trail far out of earshot.Leaving an empty hunting coat or vest where the dogs were released was a common practice. Some hunters would return early the next day and usually would find the lost dog curled up by the coat.

  • Doug J., Louisiana

DEAR READER: Yep, a piece of clothing with a familiar scent can be a “homing beacon” to animals.

DEAR HELOISE: I clean and save my small yogurt cups. When my kids paint, they use them to hold water to clean their brushes.

  • A Reader, via email Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

MovieStyle, Pages 36 on 01/10/2014

Print Headline: HELPFUL HINTS


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