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How to Handwash Delicates and Wash “Dry Clean” Clothes at Home

The Guide to Washing Delicate Clothes

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Washing your delicate clothing at home can seem intimidating, but taking care of a classic lace bra or a vintage chiffon 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.

What fabrics are considered delicates?

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Most laundry experts who know how to wash delicates agree that silk, synthetics (like polyester and acetate), lace, fine knits, chiffon, velvet, polyester, and other lightweight fabrics fall under the delicates category. These gorgeous fabrics require a little extra TLC to keep them looking their best. With a little prep, laundering your favorite fine fabrics can be a breeze.

Read Labels Carefully

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You’ll notice that some delicate fabrics like silk, synthetics, 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 machine washing your delicates garments.

Can I wash dry clean only clothes?

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Yes and no. If the label on your item says, “dry clean,” then generally, you can wash it at home, either by handwashing or in the machine depending on the material and by following our instructions. You can’t handwash dry clean only items. But if it 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” silk tie by chancing it at home.

Sort delicates by type

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Most people make the mistake of lumping all of their delicates into a single wash in their washing machine. They end up mixing 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. You could also use our laundry bag for delicates to separate out items of the same color and prevent mismatched fabrics from tangling.

Handwashing Delicate Clothing

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Before you begin handwashing your delicates, pretreat stains with the Stain Solution. Simply dab the solution on stained areas and rub it gently into the fabric with your finger. Pay special attention to cuffs, collars, and other areas that tend to easily get stained or discolored. Handwash one item at a time using a squirt or two capfuls of the Delicate Wash (Our delicate wash detergent). It’s also not a bad idea to invest in a basin, especially if you own a lot of “dry clean” items that aren’t well suited for your machine’s gentle cycle. 

After you’re done pretreating a delicate item, soak it in water for up to 30 minutes. Rinse it well with cold water. Never wring or twist delicates. 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 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.

Lastly, to get that enviable pressed and polished look, finish with a quick steam treatment with the Jiffy Steamer.

Machine Washing Delicates

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If you don’t have the time or desire to learn how to handwash 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.


Just like with handwashing, you’ll want to pretreat delicate clothing before placing it into your machine. Use the Stain Solution or the Wash & Stain Bar to target blemishes, spills, and smudges and remove oil-based stains like makeup and dressing from delicates. 
 

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

Select your machine’s gentle or delicate cycle and place the prepped 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 the Jiffy Steamer.

Get the tools you need Shop the Story
Mesh Bag Bundle

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$16
Stain Solution

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$19
Delicate Wash

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$20
Jiffy Steamer

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$230
Wash & Stain Bar

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$6.50
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