How To Hand Wash Clothes: A 6 Step Guide | The Laundress
Hand washing is the safest and gentlest way to wash items made of cashmere, wool, and silk, but also everyday fabrics, like cotton and linen. When you don’t have access to a washer and dryer or just feel like taking extra special care of your favorite possessions, here’s everything you need to know about how to handwash at home.
Step 1: Group
Just as you would while doing laundry in a washing machine, separate your items by color and fabric type. Create a pile of your woolens like wool, cashmere, and merino, delicate items like silk and lace, and everyday clothing and linens, then further separate colors from whites. Any garment that's been heavily stained or temporarily dyed should be pretreated and washed alone, as color transfer can occur more easily in smaller wash spaces.
Step 2: Pretreat
Tackle any stains with our Wash & Stain Bar (for oil-based stains like makeup or salad dressing) or Stain Solution (for tannin or protein stains like grass, red wine, ink, or blood). Work the formula into the stain with a finger or a Stain Brush. For tough stains, allow the item to soak in a sink, bath tub, or Wash Tub Basin for 30 minutes. (For woolens or delicates, use cold water; for everything else, use warm water.) If your fabrics are heavily soiled or have an odor, add a capful of Scented Vinegar to the soak water.
Step 3: Wash
Depending how big of a laundry load you have, you can wash your items in a bath tub, sink, or basin. Refer to our fabric-specific formula for the type of detergent and water temperature to use:
You can adjust the amounts according to your load size (refer to the back of the detergent’s bottle) but make sure you’re using the right amount—too little could leave lingering scents or stains, and too much can become difficult to rinse out completely. Now submerge the items and gently agitate the water with your hands to evenly distribute the soap. You can soak your items in the mixture for up to 30 minutes.
Step 4: Rinse
Run cool water through items until the rinse water is no longer soapy. Avoid wringing, which can alter the shape of the item (eek!). Instead, press the water out of the fabric by pushing it between your hands or against the edge of the wash basin or sink. If you notice color or traces of dye in the water, don’t worry. This is normal and it's simply the fabric or yarn releasing color. You won't notice any loss of color.
Step 5: Dry
Lay the items flat in their natural shapes on a hard surface or on a drying rack. Unlike hanging, this is best for preventing stretching. Keep fabrics (especially woolens) away from heat sources like radiators or direct sunlight to prevent shrinkage.
Step 6: Dewrinkle & Refresh
After the items have dried, address any creasing with a spritz of Crease Release, then smooth with your hands. In between washes, mist with Fabric Fresh Classic, a fabric refresher that smells like fresh laundry and is made with ingredients that have antibacterial properties.