In 2017 we went shopping in force spending £57.8 billion on buying new clothes. The rush of a new outfit in our wardrobe is tempting, but are we taking care of the clothes we already have?

Most clothes come with a washing label which give us directions on how we should wash and dry our clothes, but from asking around not many people even look at the label let alone know what they mean. Why does it matter, you ask? Washing clothes properly helps them keep their colour, stay in shape and generally look better for longer, meaning we can wear our favourite pieces again and again.

So it’s time to get wise about washing our clothes, take a look through our handy guide to the most common washing labels and see if you know your gentle wash from your drip dry.

Understanding washing symbols

1) Temperature 

The main thing you need to know is this is the sign for what temperature you need to wash your item at. This will look like a bucket with a number in the middle, the number is the temperature you need to wash your clothes at.

2) Hand wash

If this bucket has a hand in it then it means it needs to be hand washed rather than put into the washing machine. 

3) Spin

If any symbols have lines underneath them then this means that they need to be put on a gentle wash, the more lines there are the gentler the spin should be.

4) Dry

Any symbols inside a square are telling you how to dry your clothes. So a square with a half moon at the top means drying on a line, whereas a square with a line through it means to dry your garment flat.

5) Dry clean

If the main shape is a circle, look out for letter or mark inside the circle is telling you about whether it needs dry cleaning.

These are the basic symbols that will be on most clothes, but for a more comprehensive list visit Love Your Clothes.

Best practice for washing with care

A well as keeping our clothes looking great, washing clothes properly can reduce the likelihood of plastic microfibers shedding off our clothes and finding their way into the water stream. If you haven’t heard of microfibres, these are tiny strands of fabric that shed off of our clothes when we wash them. Because a lot of our clothes are synthetic this means that they contain plastic. This can lead to lots of tiny bits of plastic coming off our clothes and entering our rivers and oceans.

There are a few really easy things you can do to wash your clothes more carefully and reduce microfibre shedding.

1) Wash at 30 and on gentler cycles

Washing at a cooler temperature can help your clothes last longer and save you money on electricity and heat as well as reducing microfibre release.

2) Air dry

Always let your clothes air dry when possible. Tumble dryers and the hot temperatures can make your clothes wear faster and are thought to increase shedding of microfibres.

3) Wash clothes only when you really need to

This is our top tip as microfibres are released in the wash, so if you can get another wear out of something, let it air instead. Sometimes the lazy way is the best way. This video offers some great life hacks which can help remove smells or small stains.

To find out more about this tune into the Hubbub vlog.

Spread the word about how to take better care of your clothes by taking a picture of your washing label with the #WhatsInMyWash.

Happy washing!