Over 70% of adults don’t understand washing symbols on their clothes

Washing clothes is relatively simple, but every now and again there may be one item which requires special attention. And if it comes to reading symbols on clothing labels, 70 percent of adults wouldn’t know what to do.

A study of 2,000 adults found 32 percent believe there are too many symbols to comprehend, while 22 percent get confused by the varying instructions between different items. Consequently, 20 percent admitted to giving up on reading the symbols altogether before loading their washing machines.

The confusion extends to washing machine symbols as well, with cycles such as synthetics (76 percent), cold wash (49 percent), and gentle wash (48 percent) among the most unidentifiable settings.

Regrettably, not properly following the washing instructions has resulted in 34 percent of respondents having their garments ruined, with wool being the most common fabric affected.

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The study, commissioned by Smart Energy GB, also revealed 40 percent of Brits are actively seeking ways to be more energy-efficient when doing laundry.

Of those surveyed who have a smart meter, 60 percent believe the in-home display has been key to monitoring their energy usage. Furthermore, 41 percent feel it helps them gain a better understanding of the energy consumed during laundry cycles.

In collaboration with style advisor Susannah Constantine and the Energy Saving Trust, Smart Energy GB has transformed laundry labels into easy-to-understand icons. Their aim is to provide tips, tricks, and hacks to help consumers lighten the laundry load and save energy this summer.

Susannah said: “For many people, summer is their favourite time of the year, but with children off school, family holidays, BBQs, and picnics, it often means more washing. It doesn’t help matters that the symbols on laundry labels are so confusing that often we don’t look at them at all.

“That’s why I’m teaming up with Smart Energy GB to help the nation better manage their laundry habits and energy use, one load at a time, and reduce household bills.”

The study also revealed 38 percent of adults have experienced shrunken clothes, while 36 percent have accidentally dyed items by mixing loads. Velvet, silk, and corduroy were identified as the fabrics Brits feel least confident washing, while cotton, denim, and synthetics were considered the easiest to clean.

Interestingly, despite the wide range of settings available on washing machines, the average adult only ever uses two. The most popular choice is the ‘quick wash’ (59 percent), with only 29 percent opting for a ‘cold wash’, despite its energy-saving benefits.

However, 70 percent of respondents expressed a desire to be more energy-efficient when doing laundry, actively seeking tips and tricks to reduce their household expenses.

When seeking advice on laundry practices and deciphering labels, 57 percent of respondents turn to the internet for support, while those under the age of 25 are more likely to ask a parent or guardian (32 percent).

Victoria Bacon, director at Smart Energy GB said: “Summer is the season for endless washing, whether it’s getting out grass, sunscreen or ice cream stains.

“Our research found that households are repeatedly using the same washing settings but also seeking ways to be more energy efficient when doing laundry.

“Of course, the best way to track your energy usage is with a smart meter’s in-home display, but we also want to arm everyone with a few simple tricks to be more efficient with their laundry loads, so they can reduce their energy usage and save money.”

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Laundry Tips for a More Energy-Efficient Household:

Opt for cold washes

Cold washes can be just as effective as warm or hot washes, saving energy while keeping clothes fresh. This temperature is suitable for protecting materials such as denim and delicate fabrics while preventing colour bleeding.

Pre-soak tough stains

Treat stains by pre-soaking garments overnight in a bowl or bucket before following with the preferred laundry cycle. This method saves energy compared to excessive washing.

Air dry whenever possible

Air drying is the most cost-effective way to dry laundry. If outdoor space is limited, place the drying rack near an open window to speed up the drying process.

Consider using a dehumidifier

A dehumidifier can be useful in speeding up drying times when the weather is not favourable. Place it next to the drying rack as a substitute for energy-consuming appliances like tumble dryers or heated air racks.

Add a dry towel to the tumble dryer

If using a tumble dryer is necessary, adding a dry towel can help clothes dry faster.

Apply the “sniff test”

Determine if a garment truly needs to be washed by using the “sniff test.” Some items can be worn multiple times before requiring cleaning. When doing a small load, use a quick cycle to be as efficient as possible.

This article was crafted with the help of AI tools, which speed up Express.co.uk’s editorial research. A news editor reviewed this content before it was published. You can report any errors to [email protected].

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