Sustainability made simple

Tips & Tricks for Hand Washing Clothes Like A Pro

Laundry drying on a clothes line on a sunny day.
CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Daniele Bissoli

Hand-washing clothes isn’t the most exciting chore on your to-do list, but it’s absolutely essential for some fabrics. We’ll show you how to wash clothes by hand the right way.

Ever think knowing how to wash clothes by hand might be useful? Say you’re on vacation and don’t have immediate access to a washing machine, or maybe you only have a couple of items to wash and want to save water at home. Hand washing clothes is an easy alternative. In this article, we’ll show you how to hand wash clothes, so they’re better than new.

Hand Washing Clothes: When Is It Necessary?

hand washing clothes how to handwash clothes step-by-step guide lace garments delicates
We recommend hand washing delicate garments with lots of lace. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - hans)

You can wash just about any item of clothing by hand. However, some fabrics and specific garments require hand washing to stay in good condition. Some common examples are items made of silk, wool, cashmere and lace. It’s also a good idea to hand wash embroidered clothing or lingerie with lots of lace.

Tip: Always read your clothing’s washing instructions on the label. The instructions tell you if hand washing your clothes is the only option and help you avoid damaging your clothes.

Instead of hand washing, you can also wash wool sweaters and other delicate clothes on a gentle cycle in the washing machine. However, washing but one or two items of clothing in a single wash cycle uses up a lot of energy and water.

Furthermore, you should also hand wash clothes that are prone to bleeding separately. Washing these items by hand ensures you won’t accidentally dye the rest of your clothes in the machine.

How to Handwash Clothes: Chose the Right Detergent

When it comes to hand washing your clothes, liquid detergents are far better than powder detergents, the latter of which can leave residue behind on fabric. For delicate clothing made from silk or wool, make sure to choose a mild detergent.

As a general rule, be sure to make the choice for sustainable and organic products when shopping for detergent. Conventional detergents typically contain harmful chemical ingredients like phosphates or microplastics, which can pollute water and harm aquatic life. When in doubt, you can always make your own laundry detergent and avoid these issues altogether.

For more eco-friendly laundry options that are easier on your wallet and the environment, check out our guides DIY Dryer Sheets for Super-Soft & Eco-Friendly Laundry and Natural Laundry Stripping Recipe Step-by-Step.

How to Wash Clothes By Hand: Step-by-Step Instructions

Where to handwash clothes sinks containers
To hand wash clothing, first fill a bucket, sink or bathtub with warm water and add some powder detergent. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Curology)

Hand washing clothes is simple. Still, there are a few things to consider to avoid damaging your most cherished items.

How to hand wash clothes:

  1. Fill up a clean container (a bucket, sink or bathtub) with warm water. The water temperature doesn’t need to be too hot — around 85°F. To hand wash very delicate clothes, you may even want to use cold water.
  2. Add some detergent and dissolve it. As a rule of thumb, one teaspoon of detergent per garment is enough. You should be able to find more detailed hand wash instructions on the packaging.
  3. Soak the item you’re washing in the soapy water. Gently move it back and forth in a circular motion to remove any dirt. Remove it after three to five minutes — this gives the detergent enough time to break down the dirt and oil particles.
  4. Fill a second container with water and dip your laundry into and out of it. Repeat this process until all residue is dissolved and the water rinses clear.
  5. Do not wring, knead or scrub the clothes vigorously at any time. Rough treatment can lead them to warp and distort.
  6. After washing by hand, dry delicate and “hand-wash only” items flat or hang them, as long as the items aren’t likely to become misshapen. Drying laundry naturally is much more eco-friendly and saves you money on your energy bill.

Tips for Naturally Clean Laundry

Natural laundry cleaning tips
There are many easy ways to clean and maintain. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Annie Spratt)

Looking for even more useful household hacks for clean laundry after you’ve mastered hand washing clothes? Sweat stains can be tricky to remove. Some persistent cases — especially whites — can become increasingly discolored over time. However unsightly, you can still learn how to wash white clothes, remove sweat stains and get mold out of clothes and other fabrics without using chemical cleaners that pollute the environment.

If it’s the smell that lingers, we recommend giving this a read: How to Get Sweat Smell out of Clothes the Natural Way

To revive faded colors, remove stains or prevent color bleeding, try treating your clothes with vinegar. Here’s how: Washing Clothes with Vinegar: Benefits of Adding Vinegar to Laundry

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