We all have clothing whose label bears those three ominous words: “hand wash only” or/and this little pictogram. The modern convenience of washing machines has made manual laundering unnecessary for many types of garments. Nevertheless, when it comes to certain fabrics, extra care is non-negotiable. For these items, hand wash only means exactly what it says.
Why? Because vintage, hand-knit, or fragile fabrics such as wool, silk or lace, as well as decorative details such as paint, beads, or sequins, may be damaged by water that’s too hot or by a spin cycle that’s too rough. And while you may be tempted to reach for the “delicate” setting on your washing machine, the risk of shrinking, snagging, or otherwise damaging your hand wash only garments is just too great.
But there’s good news—hand washing your delicate items is nothing to be feared! Simply follow these easy guidelines and your favorite delicates will keep on looking their best.
- Use a clean, empty wash basin.
- Fill with warm water—neither too hot nor too cold, at maximum 40°C.
- Choose a detergent that suits your item. For example, you can choose a multi-use detergent, a wool detergent, a special detergent for washing by hand, etc.
- Place your clothing in the basin and ensure that all the fabric is fully saturated with the soapy water. Allow to sit for around 30 minutes, then gently agitate in the water, taking care not to twist anything as this could stretch the fabric.
- There is no need to leave your clothing to soak for an overly long amount of time; 30 minutes should suffice.
- Thoroughly rinse your clothing, ensuring that any trace of detergent is gone.
- Gently squeeze out the excess water from top to bottom, avoiding any twisting motions. You may briefly roll your clothing in a like-colored towel to absorb some of the moisture.
- Never put your hand wash only items in the dryer, as the heat will most likely damage them. Instead, hang them out to dry.
- That’s it! Your delicate garments will be ready to wear again in no time. Washing them may have taken a few extra minutes, but sometimes there’s just no substitute for your own two hands.
For more tips on how to care for your favorite clothes, visit our special fabrics section.