How to wash delicate clothes (Top Tips on caring for your delicates)

Updated on December 23, 2022 by Sarina Tariq

washing delicate fabricsWhat are delicate clothes? And why they need special care?

Delicate clothes are those that can get damaged in the wash, if you try to take care of them as those made with other fabrics. The term delicate includes all materials that make you feel that will ruin the fabric of a particular garment after a regular cycle in the washing machine. Trust your instincts…

Delicate fabrics include all fragile fabrics like hand-knitted or crocheted fabrics and laces, thin knits, and silks. You can also include some woolen fabrics among the delicate fabrics. Then there are clothes with sequins, embroidery, and ribbon work. Your underwear, especially the bras, are to be counted as delicates too.

Shrinkage, tearing of fibers, distortion, and fading colors are some of the problems in maintaining delicate clothes. Imagine your horror after a regular cycle in the wash, your most expensive dress comes out with a big hole in the bodice. How can anyone bear this horror?

How to maintain your delicate clothes?

⚡ A very important thing you can do is to try not to put any of your delicate clothing on the washing machine. Hand washing is the right thing to do.

If you find you do not have time to hand wash it, put it on the delicate cycle in the washing machine.

basins and other hand washing tools to wash delicate clothes gently. .

⚡ Always separate the clothing according to color. Do not soak colored clothes with white, at least.

⚡ Do not use Hot water for washing this kind of clothes. Hot water can shrink clothes and also cause color fading.

⚡ Do not oversoak. A 15-minute soak will remove all the dirt but more than that may remove more than dirt.  

⚡ It is better if you do not wash the delicate fabrics too frequently. After wearing the garment, if it is not soiled, hang them outside for some time for the sun to dry out any moisture (sweat) in the cloth. But do not hang them in strong sunlight, which can damage the cloth. Let it dry out in the shade.

⚡ If there is any dust or dirt, a fine, firm bristled brush can be used to brush the clothes. This is a necessary step to maintain Jackets and pantsuits.

⚡ Hang them to store in a fresh and cool atmosphere. Do not think you can cram all of the clothes together and still maintain their quality well. Hang them with the proper hardware. Padded hangers are great for hanging delicate shawls, tailored jackets, and tailored dresses and suit jackets.
(When storing knitwear it is better not to hang them. They are best stored folded flat.)

⚡ Before a wash, check if any sequins or lace inserts have a loose seam or stitch. If it has, sew them back on before attempting to wash them. However gentle you are while washing, they will pop off with a little agitation.

Most store bought sequins fabric has sequins/beads attached with a single line of thread- if you pop one, all the others come off. 

How to launder your delicate clothes?

Laundering this type of clothes is a major question in everybody’s mind. I know many who spend a fortune in dry cleaners to clean their costly clothes made of delicate fabrics. Sometimes even more than what they spend on the cloth themselves.

But this may be an unnecessary expense, and with a little care and work, these delicate clothes can be maintained at your home to perfection.

⚡ So, do they need Dry cleaning?

A lot of the clothes which are marked as “Dryclean” on their label can also be washed at home. But some need professional cleaning.

Extra fine silk, suede, leather, feathers, and fur – They should be taken to the professionals to clean. They can be maintained in high form with dry cleaning and nothing else. All your care cannot imitate how they come from the dry cleaners.

A too-soiled garment should be taken to the dry cleaners, of course.

Another type of fabric that may need a dry clean is rayon. It may bleed, shrink, or lose its crispness if washed in a washing machine.

Also, clothes with bright prints that you suspect may bleed should be dry-cleaned for at least the first few washes. Other exceptions are clothes with special insertions like delicate laces, pleats, or a particular finish.

Checkout this post on washing your fine bras and lingerie for more details on maintaining this type of delicate clothes.

Which detergent to use with delicate clothes? 

⚡ From my experience, I will tell you never to use detergent powder on your delicate clothes. The soap powder will kill your delicate cloth. Instead, you can use any ph neutral liquid detergent.

There are many available in the market. But I find that they all are rather expensive. What I have always been doing is – buy any brand baby shampoo in large quantities when there is a sale. This liquid soap has the right consistency and strength to clean delicate fabrics. If it is right for a baby, your delicate clothing can bear it.

But if you want to use detergent, make sure it is a no-chlorine one.wash delicate underwear

⚡ A mesh laundry bag is a lifesaver when washing the bras in the washing machine.

More like this:

If they are inside a mesh bag like this, no stretching of the elastic or shrinkage or tangles around other clothes.

⚡ A delicate cycle in the washing machine inside the laundry bag and a tumble dry will keep all the bras clean and good.

Of course, hanging them to air dry is the way to go but it may not always be possible especially during the rains.

If you really value your lingerie, hand wash.

Always refer to the care labeling on your clothes. This is a must. The manufacturer knows the best way to care for the garment he has made.

More like this:

delicate clothes -care label symbols
Care label symbols on delicate clothes.

After you have hand washed the clothes it could still be ruined by you being overzealous in wringing out the water from them. DO NOT.

Press the water out of them by pressing them against the walls of the bucket or squeeze them gently with both hands. Wringing the delicate clothes with too much force could cause more damage than anything else.  

⚡ If you have embroidery work, sequins, or lacework on your cloth that you do not want to ruin in the wash, you should turn the garment inside out. Also, these kinds of clothes do not want major rubbing or scrubbing. Swirling them in buckets filled with clean cold water should do the work.  

⚡ It is better to not use the dryer with delicate clothes. Hang to air dry – that is what you have to do. The delicate fibers of these fabrics will not bear the spinning in the dryer. Knitwear should be laid flat to dry. Very fragile clothes can be laid flat on a clean towel or microfiber mats to dry so that it will maintain their shape.

⚡ Before air drying, shake the garment gently to remove the wrinkles it has gathered in the wash. This will maintain its shape as well when dry.

⚡ Never stuff the washing machine with too many clothes at once. Lesser load is always better for cleaner and well maintained clothes.

⚡ Stain removal

Sometimes you find a little stain in your expensive but fragile garment and it may seem tempting to take out the bottle of bleach and soak the whole cloth in it. Never do that. Bleach is very strong and can destroy your precious clothing. A spray of a good quality diluted stain remover to the spot will take care of the stains on your delicate clothes.The best thing to do is to treat the stain as soon as you get it (or as soon as you get home)

Wool garments – An easy pressing alternative for wool garments is to let them hang in a steam filled room. The steam will remove the wrinkles and make them look fresh.

⚡ Of course, do not hesitate to turn for help from the dry cleaners if you feel in your gut that you will ruin particular expensive clothing by washing it at home or if the label on your clothing says “Dryclean only.”.

If you are giving the clothes to a dry cleaner, choose a reputed one. Also, remove the clothes from the drycleaning bag as soon as it arrives. The moisture trapped inside the plastic bag will ruin your clothes if kept in it for too long.

An easy care routine of a few minutes can maintain your costly and delicate clothes in pristine condition. They will stay looking great forever without burning holes in your pocket.

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author-sarina

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.