Will the Delicate Cycle Clean a Heavily Soiled Item?

Bryan asked: Does the delicate setting on the washing machine make clothing really clean? It is easy to say, “wash delicate clothing with delicate setting.” However, if the delicate clothing is as dirty as the stuff washed with “Medium” setting, which setting should be used to wash this delicate clothing? Does the “Delicate” setting really make clothing as clean as being washed with the “Medium” setting?


The delicate cycle is designed to provide a wash cycle that uses less agitation and a shorter washing time. While the other settings use more agitation and longer washing times, which is needed to get them clean, delicate items are made from fabrics and materials that often cannot tolerate it. Most delicate items are not as soiled as more durable fabrics, such as work clothing, and are cleaned appropriately with this shorter, gentler cycle.

When you are working with a very soiled, delicate piece of clothing, there are a couple of options. First, presoak the piece to allow the soil to become wet and loosen the bond to the fabric. Use a stain pre-treatment as necessary. Ensure that the stain treatment is safe for the delicate fabric type. Wash the garment using the delicate cycle. If needed, wash the piece a second time to remove the rest of the soiled areas. Using a mild detergent is also important for cleaning delicate items. Do not dry the item in a heated dryer until it is clean. Some delicate items require line drying or laying the piece flat on a clean towel.

Another option is to hand wash the item. This will allow you to target the soiled areas specifically to ensure the dirt is removed. Again, use a mild detergent and hang or lay flat to dry.

Good luck!

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