Tips for Hand Washing Clothes

Tips for Hand Washing Clothes

Some clothes are too delicate to machine wash. Putting them in a washing machine can stretch them out, ruin embroidery, or damage articles in other ways. For example, bathing suits generally need to be hand washed. Some clothes simply last longest when hand-washed, such as wool sweaters or silk blouses.  Either way, it is important to do things the right way in this process to ensure your garments come out clean and undamaged.

Wash similar items together. They should be the same color and the same shade of color. That is, you should avoid mixing dark colors with light colors. If a garment is new, the dye is more likely to bleed and stain other pieces of clothing. It is best to wash new garments individually the first few times until you’re confident the dye won’t leak into the water anymore and ruin other clothes in the wash. Additionally, you should wash the same types of material together: silk with silk, wool with wool, and so on.

Soak items in a basin or bucket for 10-20 minutes. You do not need to leave it to soak longer to “make up for” not machine washing it. However, you should never soak silk clothing for more than 30 minutes, as this can cause it to lose its sheen.

Use a mild detergent rather than regular laundry detergent. You can use gentle hand soap or shampoo to substitute. However, you should never use dish soap, as it is formulated differently. Do not use bleach; it will be too harsh for your clothing.  

Use cool or room temperature water. Unless the label specifies that your clothing can be washed in hot water, it is best to stay on the safe side. If you do use hot water, make sure you don’t use water so hot that it is painful to your hands.

Use gentle motions to move the item around in the water. Avoid scrubbing, twisting, or jerking garments around. You do not need to pretend to be the washing machine. Your goal is to clean your clothes in a gentler manner.

Never squeeze or wring out delicate clothing. That defeats the purpose of hand washing them. Instead, lay the item flat on a towel and roll it up in the towel to remove excess water. To dry the item quickly, repeat this process several times, and use multiple towels. You can also press on it gently when it is rolled up in the towel. The key is to be gentle: don’t press too hard or you can stretch out the fabric.

Air-dry clothing after gently pressing the excess water out of it. Lay it flat on a surface and turn it over once the top side is dry. Alternatively, you can hang it on a rack or clothing line. Do not put delicate clothing in a dryer unless the label specifically says that you can. Typically, garments that are too delicate to be machine washed cannot handle being machine dried either.

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