how to hand wash laundry

Hand washing laundry brings to mind the eternal image of a cute Cinderella washing clothes.The times of beating clothes to submission are long gone. Automatic washing machines and dryers are the new fairy godmothers for all who have lost their back bone to pain.

But still, in today’s world of convenient machines, there are some scenarios when you have to hand wash your clothes. I bet you have encountered atleast one of them.

  • A particular dress is very precious for you and you do not trust your machine or dry cleaner to do a better job than you.
  • Your washing machine has gone on strike.
  • You never machine wash your socks, underwear t shirts or sweaters
  • The manufacturer of a favorite clothing says ‘hand wash only’ in its label.
  • You are backpacking on a budget

But if you are not careful when hand washing  you risk the loss of your favourite dress. But you can get good results if you will follow the following steps
1. Prepare your clothing for a wash. This involves removing any pins or other removable fastenings. Unbutton all the buttons. If you are washing clothing in dark colours, they had better be washed inside out. I also tie up drawstrings so that they are not lost inside after a wash. 

2. Check for any stains in the clothing. If there is, spot cleaning is the way to go before fully washing the dress. Use a pinch of detergent on the stain and leave for 2 -3 minutes and see if the stain will work off. You can also try a satin remover pen.Check out this post “Best stain removers” for home remedies to remove stains.

3. Ensure that you are not washing different dark coloured clothes together. Bleeding colours from other fabrics is a real threat and I have experienced this horror in my stupidity and impatience. Separate light clothes from dark clothes. Lint from light clothes latch on to dark clothes and make them look horrible. Checkout this post on 15 ways to protect dark clothes from lint

4 Warm water is great for hand washing but not necessary. Cold water is best for the clothes you feel is going to bleed.But not  hot water. Never hot water. It is disastrous to your hands and your clothes. Hot water will make your clothes fade as well as shrink. But you may dissolve the detergent in hot water and then add cold water to make it lukewarm

5. Use a no-chlorine detergent on your precious cloth, especially if it is a dark coloured one.

6. A little soaking is good for your clothes but not more than 5 minutes. Fading colours of the fabric is the result of over soaking.

7.You will definitely be hand washing your sweaters and polo shirts and if you want to retain their shape do let them dry on a flat surface like a drying rack . Otherwise they will sag and overstretch out of shape

8.I have lots of buckets in my home ; but if you do not have use your sink (plugged in) or tubs to hand wash clothes. Just ensure that it is clean.You also get big basins with hole at the bottom with plugs for letting the water out. If you make a habit of hand washing clothes these basins are a good investment.

hand laundry tips

9. Ideally you should be having two vessels – to wash and to rinse. But you can adjust with just one bucket as well.

10 Wringing the clothes to dry is not generally recommended. It is enough to squeeze the water out with both hands,especially for delicate clothes.

11. Hand washing clothes (with care labels saying Dry wash only) is what I do  regularly. But it comes with its own risk. So proceed with caution.

12 A scrub brush is a good thing to have near the hand wash area wherever it is for you.The stubborn stains go away with one or two scrubs from this tool

13.A scrubbing board or washing board used to be a necessary equipment in those days of yore when washing machines were the stuff in dreams. They are made of wood and very very difficult to come by in general stores. If you can find one, buy it. When electricity runs out you may find its value. Even otherwise for scrubbing your clothes it is a very good tool to have. 

Best step by step way to hand wash your laundry

hand wash clothes

1. Fill a clean bucket with warm water or cold water.Have a spare bucket with clean cold water for rinsing

2. Drop detergent in the water. ( I am not a fan of the powder kind; it is better to use the liquid one) Baby shampoo is preferred in case of washing delicate fabric. Checkout this detailed post on washing and caring delicate clothes. Dissolve the soap or detergent thoroughly

3. Shake off any removable dirt from the clothes and Drop the clothes into the bucket. Ensure that the bucket is not overfilled with clothes. You need some space for the clothes to swirl around in the bucket

4. If the clothes are too dirty soak the clothes for 10-20 minutes ; otherwise 5 minutes soaking is good for dirt and sweat to agitate out of clothes

5.Use both hands to sway the clothes like the washing machine would do, not like the dress is your enemy but gently. Swirl it around a couple of times. Scrub the clothes by rubbing it against itself with both your hands

6. Squeeze water from the clothes and drop them into the other bucket with clean water. Do not wring delicate silk underwear and stockings or lace garments.

7. Throw away the soap filled water and refill the bucket with more clean water. Rinse till the water in the bucket is clear of any detergent residue.

8.In the final rinse drop a teaspoon of vinegar. This will remove the detergent traces and act as a fabric softener as well.

9. After the rinse is over squeeze and rinse in the new bucket.

10. Squeeze as much water from the garments as you can before removing  the clothes one by one from the bucket

11. Your garment  will be out of shape. Before drying them, hold it  by one end, shake it so that wrinkles  and twists in the fabric is straightened. Sometimes I wrap them up in a towel to take out the water.

7. Hang to dry. If it s a sweater or some thing dry flat on a towel or a flat drying rack. Otherwise hang to dry in the sun.

There is no denying that hand washing is gentle on clothes and better for clothes than machine washing when you do it rightly . If you have decided to hand wash all or some of your clothes follow the above steps to a hand washed laundry

More articles on clothing care. Washing dark and coloured clothes ; washing white clothes; how to use bleach on clothes

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