Not too long ago, we lived in a carefree world where interacting with people, giving a magical hug to the loved ones, and even fabric stains were considered as a part and parcel of daily routine. In fact, if you were to believe the typical detergent advertisements, fabric stains displayed your industrious nature and desire to help others. And then, the pandemic happened. When we wash clothes of small babies and toddlers, we pay utmost attention to ensuring that the fabric remains absolutely clean, germ-free, smell free and gentle enough to ensure that the child’s sensitive skin is adequately protected. However, have you ever considered the laundry symbols?
A couple of decades ago, there were little options and awareness as far as the detergents and washing liquids in the market were concerned or the laundry symbols. You had to use what you could find. That’s why our mothers and other older women in the family used to rely on home-made or natural formulations to sanitize and clean the clothes of small children and infants. Also, while we are on the topic, we need to learn the difference between a chemical filled fabric-cleaner that offers merely spotless and fragrant cleaning and one that ensures germ-free cleaning by using natural plant-based ingredients. It is also important to understand the different laundry symbols.
Have you ever considered the fact that there is a lot more to washing clothes than to simply applying detergent liquid, stuffing them into the washing machine and selecting the wash-cycle? For instance, understanding the laundry symbols.
In the busy daily lives, especially if you are the only person taking care of the household chores, it is not unusual if you tend to speed through the daily tasks. After all, you might be juggling between your home and office responsibilities which have greatly increased in the post-pandemic world. Thus, decoding the laundry symbols, the tiny icons that adore almost every cloth label, is often something that is not focused upon. Let’s go ahead and decipher these common laundry symbols and transform the outcome of our laundry washing activities:
Laundry Symbols – What They Mean:
• Tub with water – Machine wash
• Tub with water and a hand – Hand wash
• Tub with water cross-marked – Do not wash
• Square with a circle inside – Dry Clean only
• Square with a cross-marked circle inside – Don’t Dry Clean
Then there are different levels of water heat that suits different fabric types as explained by various laundry symbols. Some of them you can wash in cold water, and others in water at temperature levels as explained below:
• Tub with water and single dot – Wash in cold water (temperature 65 to 85 degrees F)
• Tub with water and two dots – Wash in warm water (up to 105 degrees F)
• Tub with water and three dots – Hot water wash
Washing machine cycle settings are also denoted with different laundry symbols such as:
• Tub with water – Normal cycle
• Tub with water and one line below it – Permanent Press Cycle
• Tub with water and two lines below it – Delicate/gentle cycle
Last, but, not the least, the way you dry your clothes also directly impacts their life. Here are some of the common drying laundry symbols that you would find on your garments:
• Square with a circle inside – Tumble drying allowed
• Square with a crossed circle inside – Don’t tumble dry
• Square with a curved line near the top – Hang to dry
• Square with a line in the middle – Flat dry
• Square with a crossed wringed cloth inside – Don’t wring
• Square with a big red circle inside – Don’t heat/air dry
This awareness of laundry symbols can transform the quality of your laundry efforts and the appearance/effectiveness of your family’s beloved clothes.
There was a time when I used to believe that the following scenarios are normal occurrences while washing clothes.
- Whites turning yellow after each spin in the machine
- Brand new woollens acquiring a coat of lint
- Cottons turning crisp as wafers after sometime
- Laundry symbols do not need to be considered
Once when I was discussing these common challenges of washing clothes, a neighbour told me that the reason could be not paying attention to washing instructions and laundry symbols which come with most clothes nowadays.
“Do you think we can use the same shampoo or soap on a one year old that we use ourselves?”
“No, obviously not”, I replied realizing where the conversation was headed. That day, I learned why it is crucial to use different washing techniques and detergents for different clothes. I also understood the importance of laundry symbols in the entire process.
Under all circumstances, it is preferable to use a detergent liquid that is based on plant-based surfactants and bio-enzymes which ensure that the clothes, whether whites or the coloured fabrics, retain their shine and softness after each wash. The focus has to be on the quality of the detergent and not necessarily on what they show in the advertisements or the brand name.
For instance, a product like Puer Advance Care Detergent Liquid is something that I have found to be extremely efficient and safe for my clothes. It has plant based dirt softening agents which first soften up hard stains and grime and then release it from the fabric without damaging the fabric. It is so efficient that it maintains fabric whiteness for straight 30+ washes. So, now I can be sure of my whites remaining whites for much longer than ever. Puer doesn’t use any artificial chemical based brighteners which might make the fabric look good initially, but reduce its shelf life.
Such natural plant based bio-enzymes can not only remove the dirt and solve the problem of discoloration, but also keep the clothes smelling great as you get options such as Lavender fragrance to go with the bio-enzymes. In the post-COVID times, we all want to live healthy in an organic and sustainable manner. Whenever we use any chemical heavy products such as soaps, powder, or detergent liquids, the artificial ingredients not only have an adverse impact on our wellness, but are also more likely to pollute our environment.
On the other hand, when we use products which are powered by plant-based ingredients, they don’t leave any residual chemicals which can pollute the soil or the water bodies. Thus, they are a more effective and healthier option for all of us.
Let’s say that young and healthy people like you and me might not feel much of the impact that the chemical fabric conditioners and liquid detergents make, but, the same can’t be said of the babies and the elderly. That’s why switching to natural detergents which use plant based enzymes and fabric whiteners is not merely about selecting a product, but making a switch to a healthier and sustainable lifestyle. If we look at the plant-based Puer fabric conditioner, it works so wonderfully that had it been available a generation back, it would surely have given a lot of delight to our mothers.
I used it on my winter clothes, and while I must admit that the chemical based fabric conditioner that I used in the past also kept the clothes clean, the soft, fluffy warmth that I experience now is something that can only be felt to be believed. I noticed a significant increase in the height of my stacked up clothes. I checked the label and saw the indication of a 30% increase in volume. Such a plant-based product is free of paraben and other harmful chemicals, and what makes it truly special is the aesthetically designed bottle which would make you feel as if you are washing the clothes in some high-end perfume. In fact, the clothes keep smelling amazing even after 48 hours and I actually wonder if they have mistakenly filled the bottle with perfume. Both the products made my clothes very soft and the colors look like they have been revived.
Such a product can be a one-stop solution for all your family members and such an all-round care is essential in the wake of the global pandemic. The last thing you want is a detergent which simply wipes out the dirt without as much as even ruffling the germs that the clothes might have accumulated. Had there not been any awareness of the harmful effects of chemical detergents or the lack of access to the natural options, we might have been compelled to rely on such options. However, now, there are options to make green choices so there is no reason why we should not live life #uncompromised.
So, the next time you pick up the laundry basket, remember to take a look at the laundry symbols on each garment and pick up the bottle of detergent/conditioner that makes them smile naturally!
(Written by Vaishali, Eminent blogger and Communication Consultant. Blog: thechampatree(dot)in.)