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How To Hand Wash Delicates At Home

The Guide To Washing Delicate Clothes

Washing delicate clothing at home can seem intimidating, but taking care of items like intimates or a vintage blouse doesn’t have to be a chore. Whether you opt to handwash or machine wash, here are some helpful tips to keep your delicates looking like new with our Delicate Wash, specially formulated without enzymes to care for delicates.

Care tag on garment
Dry clean only care tag on clothing
Read Labels Carefully

You'll notice that some delicate garments and fine knits will have tags that say "handwash" or "dry clean." While this wording doesn't rule out your machine, it does mean you'll have to take extra care when washing your delicate garments. Always test items tagged "dry clean" before laundering at home. Do not wash items tagged "dry clean only", as this typically means the item is not designed to be submerged in water.

Can I Wash Dry Clean Only Clothes?

Yes and no. If the label on your item says, “dry clean,” then generally, you can wash it at home with a few exceptions depending on the durability and construction of the garment. We recommend against attempting to handwash "dry clean only" tagged items, as this usually means the garment is simply not designed to be submerged in water. If your tag says “dry clean only,” obey the label and take it to the pros. The last thing you’ll want to do is ruin your perfectly fitting “dry clean only” rayon skirt or your favorite “dry clean only” tie by chancing it at home. Always test delicate garments before washing at home with Delicate Wash by following our guide.

Woman holding The Laundress Delicate Wash
Printed garment laying in laundry room

Most people make the mistake of lumping all of their delicates into a single wash in their washing machine. They mix cashmere with lace, knitwear with polyester, or linen with velvet, leading to unfavorable results. While washing all your delicates at once may seem like an expedient process, it actually does more harm than good. 

Why? Because delicates tend to easily snag and lose shape when washed with unlike fabrics. We typically recommend sorting delicates by color and fabric type, or simply washing them individually. Follow our wool and cashmere care guide for specific handwashing instructions pertaining to wool and cashmere garments.

Hand Washing Delicates

Take exceptional care of your delicates with our specially formulated wash. Delicate Wash is designed to provide a gentle clean for items that require a little more care like lingerie, undergarments, sleepwear and evening wear. 

Soak your delicate item in cool water for up to 30 minutes. Rinse it well after soaking. Never wring or twist delicates - instead, press down on the fabric to get the water out. If the pressing down method doesn’t feel like it’s getting the job done, just lay your delicate item on a clean towel and roll it up like a sleeping bag to help absorb the moisture faster. 

Never put delicates in the dryer, instead hang them to dry. If hanging your delicates isn’t a viable option, you can lay them flat on a towel to dry. Flip your item halfway through to speed up drying! Lastly, to get that enviable pressed and polished look, finish with a quick steam.

Pink garment being hand washed
Woman placing garment in mesh washing bag
Machine Washing Delicates

If you don’t have the time or desire to learn how to hand wash delicates and have checked each item carefully for no “dry clean only” labels, then machine washing might be the right, safe, time-saving solution for washing your delicate clothes.


Turn each of your delicate items inside out and make sure all zippers are zipped and closures are fastened. Put your delicates in a protective Mesh Bag and add Delicate Wash according to the instructions on the bottle. 

Select your machine’s gentle or delicate cycle and place the mesh bags into the washer. Choose your machine’s lowest spin cycle and select a cold water temperature to avoid damage. 

Once the wash cycle is complete, hang your delicates to dry. If hanging doesn’t work for you, just lay your delicates flat on a towel or clean surface.

To get that flawless, put-together look, finish your delicates with a pass of a steamer.