Skip links
Hand wash clothes

Here’s How To Hand Wash Clothes

Ever find yourself staring at a garment tag that says ‘hand wash only’? Don’t panic! I’m here to guide you through the simple process of hand-washing clothes. It’s not as complicated as it might seem, and with a little practice, you’ll be a pro in no time.

Hand-washing clothes can help prolong their life, especially for delicate items like silk, wool, or lace. Plus, it’s an eco-friendly alternative to machine washing. In this article, I’ll share my tried-and-true tips to get your clothes sparkling clean, all by hand.

So, let’s roll up our sleeves and dive into the world of hand washing. Trust me, it’s a skill you’ll be glad to have in your laundry arsenal.

Check Garment Care Labels

Before you start the hand-washing process, it’s crucial to check the care labels on your clothes. Though it might seem like a petty task, it’s not something you want to skip, trust me. The labels provide valuable information about the fabric and instructions on cleaning it. They are there for a reason.

You’d be surprised to know that many of our clothes are made from delicate fabrics like silk, wool, lace, or even blends that require specific care. So, heed the labels on your garments. They’ll tell you if it’s safe to hand wash a particular item or if it will warp, shrink, or bleed color when submerged in water. Remember, hand washing is always the cheap insurance policy against ruining your favorite dress or sweater.

Can’t make a head or tail out of the symbols on the care labels? Don’t worry—we got you. Follow the simple guide from Colorado State University’s simple care post to understand those pesky little symbols.

You’ll prevent undesired laundry disasters once you become familiar with these valuable labels. If there’s even a hint of uncertainty, play it safe: opt for hand washing with a gentle detergent. Both your clothes and the environment will thank you.

Sort Clothes by Color and Fabric

Now you’ve got a good understanding of the care labels on your clothes. It’s time to take the next step – sorting your clothes by color and fabric. This isn’t optional; it’s critical to proper clothing care.

Why is it so important, you ask? Let me explain. You’ve probably heard about colors bleeding in the wash. This usually happens when you mix colors. A highly pigmented red sock can swiftly turn a load of white laundry pink. But it’s not just about color. Different fabrics require different care. Delicate fabrics like silk and lace need a gentler wash cycle or a lower temperature.

So, we must properly sort our clothes before we dive into hand washing.

Start by sorting your laundry into two main piles: colors and whites. Keep darks like black, navy, and red away from lights. This prevents color transfer and keeps your lights from turning dinghy. Next, sort your clothes by fabric. Dedicate one pile for hardy fabrics like jeans and another pile for delicates. Remember, we’re making these piles for hand washing, so leave out any garments that require dry cleaning.

By doing this, you’re not only helping to preserve the color of your clothes, but you’re also ensuring they have a longer life. Your dedicated sorting will pay off, trust me.

Taking these few extra steps may seem like a hassle. It adds little time to your laundry process. But in the long run, it’s a small price to pay to extend the life of your clothes. Plus, you guarantee that your favorite silk blouse or pair of wool pants will come out of the washing process as vibrant and intact as they went in.

Oh, and one more thing before moving on a handy tip for those new to laundry – never wash a new piece of colored laundry with your whites. Always run it through a separate wash first. This ensures that any excess dye is washed out and can’t ruin the rest of your laundry.

Happy sorting! Now, you’re ready to plunge into the world of hand washing.

Fill a Clean Basin with Water

Getting your sorting game on point is just the beginning. Your next step towards successful hand washing is to use a clean basin or sink brimming with water.

For best results, you must make sure your basin is spotless. Any leftover laundry detergent, dust, or residue can attach to your clothes and potentially cause discoloration or fabric damage. Always give your basin a thorough scrub before filling it with water. The cleaner your basin, the cleaner your clothes will be.

You might ask, “What temperature should the water be?”. Well, the answer depends on the type of garment you’re washing. Check the label once again. Generally, it’s safe to use lukewarm water for most clothes. Cold water is usually advised for delicate fabrics like silk, lace, or clothing with designs that might fade or bleed color.

Here’s a simplified summary for you:

  • Most Clothes: Lukewarm
  • Delicate Fabrics: Cold

If you’re washing a batch of clothes with varied fabric types, it’s ideal to stick to cold water just to be on the safe side. Keep in mind that hot water can shrink or deform fabrics, so it’s better to avoid it unless your garment’s care label specifically instructs it.

Filling the basin is a challenging task to hurry through. You must ensure you’re filling it up enough for your clothes to move around quickly but not overflow. There should be enough water for the clothes to submerge and have room to swish around fully.

Remember, your primary objective when hand washing your clothes is to maintain their durability and quality. Making the extra effort to ensure that each step is done meticulously pays off in spades. After all, nothing compares to the satisfaction of wearing well-cared-for clothes. Don’t you agree?

Use the Right Detergent

Selecting the suitable detergent is as essential as the initial sorting and careful filling of your basin. To me, it’s like picking a good wine. The wrong choice can taint the whole experience—and the same goes for washing clothes. The wrong detergent can cause colorful clothes to fade or pure white fabrics to dull.

It’s crucial to match the detergent to the fabric material and color.

Different types of detergents are available in the market. These include regular liquid detergentsenzyme-based detergents, and delicate fabric detergents. Let’s take a closer look at these:

  • Regular liquid detergent: This versatile option is generally safe for most clothing fabrics, including cotton, linen, and synthetic materials.
  • Enzyme-based detergent: This is an excellent option if your clothes are soiled. The enzymes in these detergents help break down stains and dirt, giving your clothes a more thorough clean.
  • Delicate fabric detergents: These are specifically made for delicate fabrics like silk, lace, wool, and cashmere. They’re gentler than regular detergents and keep your delicate clothes pristine.

Similarly color is important when selecting a detergent. Clothing colors can either stay vibrant or fade away – it’s all in the detergent. While most detergents work well with all colors, some are specifically made for dark colors and others for whites. Remember to read the label before plunging into your washing routine.

It may be evident now why I liken choosing detergent to picking a fine wine. Various factors are at play, and keen attention to detail leads to rewarding results. With the suitable detergent in hand, you’re one step closer to maintaining the durability and quality of your cherished garments.

Gently Wash and Rinse Clothes

After understanding the suitable detergent to utilize, it’s critical to focus on the washing and rinsing process. This is where the real action happens. By handling garments with care, we maintain the integrity of their fabric and keep the colors vibrant.

Submerge your clothes gently in the detergent-filled basin. Avoid twisting or wringing them aggressively. Instead, agitate them softly in the water. This slight motion is more than enough to remove most stains and dirt. If you come across a stubborn spot, do light rubbing with your fingers, but keep it minimal to avoid damaging the fabric.

Let’s have a quick overview of how too much agitation can potentially turn your clothes dull:

  • Intense wringing: Deforms the fabric
  • Excessive rubbing: Fades the colors
  • High-speed spinning: Damages the fabric fibers

Hand washing is not about harsh actions. It’s about subtlety and care. After the washing process, the next step is rinsing. Remember, we don’t want any detergent residue on our clothes as it can make them stiff and often unyielding.

Here, use cold, clean water to rinse each item individually. Dunk the cloth in the water repeatedly, remembering to go outside for a thorough rinse. Suppose a hint of suds or bubbles indicates the garment still has detergent and requires more rinsing. Continue this process until the garment is entirely soap-free.

Hand-washing clothes may take some time, but patience and following this gentle wash and rinse routine will keep your garments in mint condition for years to come. Remember, we’re investing in the longevity and quality of our clothes! The following section will delve into drying methods, another crucial aspect of the hand-washing process.

Dry the Clothes Properly

Moving onto the next stage of the process, proper drying is just as important as the previous washing and rinsing stages. Acting recklessly during this phase could negate all the mindful effort you’ve put into hand washing and rinsing.

To begin, ensure you do not wring out your clothes. This action can distort and stretch the fabric, compromising its original fit. Instead, opt to squeeze the water out gently. Lay the item flat on a clean towel, roll it up, and press gently. The towel will absorb the remaining moisture, resulting in your garments in a damp, not sopping-wet, state.

It’s time to move on to air drying, the preferred method for hand-washed garments. Heat exposure can shrink delicate textiles and cause color to fade. Dry your items in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sun and heat sources, to avert any damage.

Hang or lay them flat, depending on the garment’s type. Examples are:

  • Jeans: Hang from the hem to ensure they retain their shape
  • Sweaters: Lay flat to avoid stretching
  • Shirts: Hang, but be sure to button them up to maintain their shape

Remember, the way you hang or position your clothes is crucial. Hanging certain clothes improperly may lead to unwanted wrinkles or permanent shape alterations.

Halfway through the drying process, consider turning your garments over. This step helps them to dry evenly and faster.

Finally, remember that some clothes require special attention. Please pay close attention to care labels and treat your pieces as treasures.

These straightforward, easy-to-follow steps in drying hand-washed clothes can make a huge difference in longevity. Practicing these principles with care will allow your clothes to shine and look their best while upholding their quality and, ultimately, saving you money in the long run.


Mastering the art of hand washing clothes is a skill that’s worth the effort. It’s about getting your clothes clean and maintaining their quality for the long haul. You’re one step closer to preserving your garments by avoiding wringing and gently squeezing out water. Air drying in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight, is critical. Remember, each garment type has its drying method – hang jeans from the hem, lay sweaters flat, and button up shirts before drying. Turn them midway to ensure even drying. Never ignore the care labels – they’re your guide to extending the life of your clothes. With these steps, you’ll have fresh, clean clothes and save money in the long run. Now that’s bright laundry!

Clotheslyne: Your Modern Solution to Laundry Care

While hand washing can be therapeutic and necessary for specific items, modern life’s pace only sometimes allows for the time and attention this method requires. Clotheslyne is here to offer a helping hand, providing free laundry pickup and delivery services in select areas, including New York, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Alaska, and Massachusetts.

Our community of Clotheslyners will treat your garments with the same care and attention you would, washing, drying, and folding your clothes, so you have more time to spend on what matters most to you. Let Clotheslyne take the chore out of laundry day, providing professional care with the convenience and warmth of local service.

To use Clotheslyne, download the iOS Apple App or Google Play Store Android app to schedule your laundry pick up.

You can also schedule your laundry pick up through our web portal.

Fill up a tall kitchen bag full of clothes. A Clotheslyner in your community will pick it up and deliver it back to you washed, dried, and folded in 48 hours. It’s that simple.

FREE pickup and delivery laundry services for less than drop-off at your local laundromat!