How to hand-wash clothes, and which fabrics to never put in the washing machine

Washing machines are a part of daily household cleaning these days, but some clothes aren’t right for throwing in for a cycle.

Hand washing may feel a little labour intensive, but whether you don’t have access to a washer or you’re cleaning something delicate, it’s the best option.

If you haven’t tried the manual way of washing clothes in a while, it’s understandable you might want a refresher.

Below, we have your total guide on how to hand-wash, as well as the garments you should ensure are cleaned this way (rather than in the machine).

Clothes you should hand-wash

The first way to tell if something is hand-wash only is to look at its care label.

You should see a symbol that looks like a bucket of water with a hand inside it. Alternatively, it may just say ‘hand wash only’.

If the label is missing, or you’re still tentative on the instructions, here’s a general list of fabrics that are better suited to hand washing.

  • Viscose
  • Wool
  • Satin
  • Chiffon
  • Silk
  • Certain types of lace

Overall, your best bet is to err on the side of caution and hand-wash items that seem delicate or prone to pulls, stretching, or shape loss in the machine.

How to hand-wash clothes

It’s simple to get your clothes clean without the aid of an appliance. All you’ll need is some water, some mild laundry detergent (special hand washing liquids are available), and a sink or tub.

  • Fill the sink or bathtub with cool or lukewarm – but not hot – water.
  • Add around a teaspoon of detergent for each sinkful of water.
  • Submerge the garment or garments you’re washing.
  • Use gentle movements to agitate the fibres, taking care not to scrub or twist the material.
  • Leave to soak for around 15 minutes.
  • Drain the water, then rinse the item or items with fresh, cold water until no more detergent runs out of it.
  • Press between two towels if it’s not possible to squeeze out the excess water by wringing.
  • Leave to dry in a sunny spot.

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