How to Hand Wash Clothes Properly


The care labels for some delicate items often advise that they should be hand washed only – and this is especially true for knitted items, such as jumpers or fleeces. At the same time though, most washing machines also have a Hand Wash setting. So, is it safe to put your delicate items in the laundry or not?

If you’re understandably befuddled by all this, don’t worry. Our resident laundry experts offer the following advice for anyone who needs a helping hand with their washing!

Choose Your Detergent

It’s important to choose a detergent which matches the fabric you’re cleaning and which isn’t too harsh on your skin. We recommend a pH neutral detergent that doesn’t contain brightening agents or enzymes – ideally a liquid, so it will mix easier with the water.

Prepare Your Basin

Fill your basin or sink 3/4 full with lukewarm water and add the right amount of detergent before adding the clothes. It’s important to make sure the detergent is properly mixed into the water before adding your clothes to avoid bright spots.

Soak Your Clothes (Optional)

If you’re dealing with heavy-duty stains or weighty fabrics such as knitted wool then you may need to soak them for a few hours. Keep a close eye on especially delicate items though – unless you’d rather send them to the dry cleaners.

Squeeze, Don’t Twist

Twisting can be extraordinarily damaging when your clothes are wet and is the main reason some items can’t be machine-dried. Instead of wringing the detergent through them, squeeze water through the material until stains fade.

Rinse and Repeat

Drain the water away and rinse your clothes with plenty of cold water by continuing to squeeze clean water through the fabric. Keep going until the water runs clear and there are no bubbles or foam forming from the detergent.

Stretch and Dry

Once you’ve squeezed all the water out, it’s time to dry. Most hand washed clothes should be laid flat on a towel and left to dry without direct heat, but some woollen items will shrink in water and may need to stretched back into shape.

As for the Hand Wash setting on your washing machine? Generally, this means that the washing machine will spin more gently and use cold water to avoid damaging your clothes. ‘Gentle’ can be a relative term for washing machines, however. If you want to be absolutely sure your clothes are safe then it’s always best to wash delicate items by actual, human hand.

Of course, not all laundry needs to be so complicated! If you’d rather not fuss around with basins full of soapy water and big rubber gloves to protect your sensitive skin then you might consider giving your clothes to a professional dry cleaning and laundry service – preferably one with a quality guarantee, like Laundrapp!