How To Hand Wash Your Clothes: 5 Expert Tips

They're called delicates for a reason.

how to hand wash

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There’s nothing worse than buying an expensive dress or lingerie set, wearing it once, putting it in the washer and having it come out ripped, torn, or stretched out. You may even have avoided washing your bras or silk items altogether in fear of ruining them. Fortunately, your only laundry options aren’t limited to washing machines and dry cleaning. Hand washing your clothes is a great way to save your clothes, save water, and save you a trip to the laundromat.

Meet the Expert

Jessica Ek is the director of digital communications at the American Cleaning Institute, which serves the U.S. cleaning products industry by prioritizing health and the planet.

Why Hand Wash Your Clothes? 

“Hand washing clothing can help them last longer,” says Jessica Ek, the director of digital communication at the American Cleansing Institute. While the washer and dryer are modern miracles that save us time, they aren’t always the best for our clothes.

“The tumbling of the washer and dryer can cause some items to lose their shape or snag, and the heat can break down delicate fabrics,” she adds.

Hand washing your clothing is also great if you need a special dress or piece of clothing for an event but don’t want to lug a whole load of clothes down to the laundromat or waste water using your own washer. Hand washing can also help you get out stubborn stains out of clothes without ruining them. 

You can hand wash just about anything, but Ek recommends hand washing your delicates including bras and underwear, bathing suits, lace clothing, and wool clothing. But always make sure you read the label tag on your clothes closely to clean them correctly.

While hand washing seems simple in theory, there are plenty of ways to do more harm than good when it comes to your favorite pieces. Below is an easy step-by-step guide on how to hand wash correctly and help your clothes look fresh.

Step One: Pre-treat Your Stains 

If your item(s) have any stains, treat them now before washing. The American Cleaning Institute has a handy stain removing guide to help you get just about any stain out. Or you can use your regular spot remover or stain treatment. Just remember to be, well, delicate with your delicates. While it may be tempting to scrub away the stain, Ek warns against this, encouraging us to let the cleaner and detergent do its job to “help minimize wear and tear."

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Step Two: Add Water and Detergent 

Fill your sink or wash basin with room temperature water and add in your laundry detergent. Then, mix it around with your hand to move the detergent around. When the sink or basin is filled, turn off the water.

Step Three: Wash

Put your item(s) into the wash and move them around with your hands or with a wash wand to agitate the water and get the detergent working. Again don’t be too rough with your clothes. Don’t let your clothes soak for longer than thirty minutes, especially silks as they will start to shrink.

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Step Four: Rinse 

A common mistake that people make is using their faucet to rinse out their clothes. This is actually bad for your clothes as the running water clause the fabric to stretch. Instead, put your clothes in a colander, turn on the sprayer setting on your faucet and spray cold water through the colander.

Step Five: Dry

“Don’t get your panties in a twist” isn’t just an expression, you should never twist your clothing to get the excess water out as it makes the fabric lose its shape and could damage it. After spending all this time washing your clothes, don’t ruin them now by wringing them to dry. Instead, Ek recommends gently squeezing the clothing and placing it on a towel to dry and soak up the excess water.

You should always lay your clothing flat to dry. Do not hang them up or put them in the dryer as they will lose their shape or cause damage. However, you can put them on a drying rack for faster drying. 

So remember: Be gentle, take your time, and don’t get your panties in a twist.

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