How to Hand Wash Clothing


Emily asked: I’m 17 and sadly, my mom still does my laundry for me. The other day I bought a shirt, and when I came home, I found out that it’s rayong and needs to be hand washed. My mom refuses to do this for me, so I have to do it myself. My only question is, hand washing is basically exactly what it sounds like, right? Someone give me a step by step, please! Also, what do I use if there’s a stain in it?

Many delicate fabrics cannot withstand the agitation produced by the washing machine. Hand washing is used when fabrics will either shrink, discolor, or lose their shape during a machine washing cycle. It’s simple and easy to do.

You Will Need:

  • Laundry detergent (mild for delicate fabrics)
  • Water
  • Sink or tub
  • Towels
  • Stain pre-treatment (Shout, Spray ‘n Wash, etc.)

Steps to Hand Wash Clothing:

  1. Begin by filling the sink or tub with water. Check the care instructions on the tag for the appropriate temperature. Some fabrics are best washed in cold water, while others are fine in warm water.
  2. Add a small amount of laundry detergent to the water. Usually a teaspoon of detergent is plenty. Use more if washing a large item in the tub. Make sure your garment does not require a special detergent first though.
  3. Agitate the water to mix in the detergent. When suds begin to form, the water is ready.
  4. Pre-treat any stains on the item prior to washing. This can be done by using the stain removal methods in our guides or a general stain treatment such as Shout or Spray ‘n Wash.
  5. Immerse the clothing piece into the water.
  6. Wash the item by gently pushing it up and down in the water. Use gentle motions to keep from damaging delicate fabrics.
  7. Continue pushing the item down and allowing the water to push through the fabric until it is clean.
  8. Check any stained areas and clean them further as needed.
  9. Once the garment is clean, gently squeeze out the water and set it off to the side.
  10. Empty the water from the sink and refill with clean water.
  11. Return the item to the water and push through the water again to rinse out the soap.
  12. Repeat the rinse steps until all of the soap is removed from the item.
  13. After the item has been cleaned and rinsed, gently squeeze the excess water out. Do not wring the item as many fabrics will stretch and lose their shape.
  14. For very delicate fabrics, spread out a towel.
  15. Lay the piece on top of the towel.
  16. Roll the towel up with the clothing inside.
  17. Gently press on the roll to allow the excess water to be absorbed by the towel.
  18. Remove the garment and hang or lay flat to dry. Do not place these items in the dryer unless the care instructions say it is safe to do so.

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