Cleaning Guides

How to Hand-wash Your Clothes

Sometimes handwashing clothes is better than using a washing machine. For example, capricious fabrics, such as wool, cashmere, silk, and others require special care, and cleaning them manually is the best option that you’ve got.

And yes, it can be really time-consuming and downright tedious, but it can save you money and even the life of your favourite pieces. Also, let’s not forget to mention that it’s a really useful skill to have if you travel frequently.

In this article, we are going to cover how to hand-wash clothes the right way, so continue reading if you:

  • want to answer the question of how do you hand-wash clothes;
  • are looking for a way to extend the life of your clothes;
  • wonder how to hand-wash clothes made from delicate fabrics.

What is the best detergent for hand washing clothes?

The best detergent for hand washing clothes is the one that is both gentle to your skin and effective in cleaning your garments. We don’t recommend using regular detergents because they need agitation, which your hands just can’t produce. When choosing a hand-wash detergent, we suggest you look for a liquid product or a soap.

Whatever you pick, don’t use too much, as it will make rinsing harder, can cause skin irritations, and even damage more delicate pieces of clothing.

If you are dealing with wool, silk, or rayon, look for pH neutral detergents. They are the safest choices.

Soap or hand-washing detergent

Soap and detergent for hand-washing clothes are not quite the same. The biggest difference is that soaps are made from natural ingredients, while detergents – from synthetic ones. The option you choose will depend on the water in your area. If your tap water is hard, better opt for a detergent because the soap’s natural ingredients can leave a residue on your clothes.

We will focus more on liquid detergents below, so here’s how to wash clothes by hand with bar soap. Just add it to the water in which you’ll be washing your clothes. If you are dealing with stains – rub a bit of soap on them, let it sit for some time, and carefully scrub the clothing. Wash the soap away, and repeat if needed.

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Choose the right hand-washing detergent

Different fabrics need different types of care. When searching for a hand-washing liquid, you will find that there are three main types – mild detergent, no-rinse detergent, and detergent with lanolin. Now, let’s take a look at each one:

  • Mild detergent

This option is best for delicate clothes, except those made from silk, lace, wool, or fine-knit materials. If you don’t have one in your home, baby shampoo or a mild liquid soap are also good options.

  • No-rinse detergent

No-rinse detergents are perfect for silk and lace. When it comes to these types of fabrics, it’s best to avoid rinsing away the water after soaking them. No-rinse hand-washing detergent options make the cleaning process faster and easier, since they take this step out.

  • Detergent with lanolin

This one is suitable for wool and fine knits. The interesting fact here is that lanolin is a natural oil that is produced by sheep to waterproof their wool. So, in any case, it will help you take good care of your wool and fine-knit clothes.

How to wash your clothes by hand in a few steps

Not every piece of clothing can be put in the washing machine, so probably one of the most useful skills you can learn is how to wash clothes by hand.

Most types of underwear also need a special approach. For example, bras and other gentle pieces of lingerie are better washed this way. With all of this said, the steps in washing clothes by hand are simple and easy to follow. Now, the first thing you need to do is…

1. Read the label

The most important thing is to determine the type of fabric you are going to be dealing with – this way you can understand how to take care of it and choose the right detergent for hand-washing clothes. If you don’t find a label and can’t recognise the fabric, then better bet on safety, and choose a mild detergent or dishwashing liquid.

There are also standard detergents that work for most delicate clothes, but make sure to read their labels beforehand.

2. If needed, treat stains

Use your fingertips to gently put some liquid detergent or laundry stain remover on the spot. Leave the product to do it’s magic. Avoid scrubbing and twisting the item, especially if you are dealing with a delicate fabric.

3. Fill a sink or laver with water

Fill your sink or laver with warm or cold water. Note that the temperature of the water will depend on the type of clothing you are going to wash. Keep in mind that wool, silk, and brightly coloured items clean best in cold water. Pour the detergent of your choice in the water, following the instructions on the packaging. Make sure it’s completely dissolved and put your clothes in.

Don’t panic if the water turns a certain tone – it’s absolutely normal for the fabric to release some kind of dirty-looking colour.

4. Rinse

It’s important to wash out the detergent properly. If you’ve chosen to wash the clothes in the sink, you can use the faucet. Start the water, and let the dirt wash away.

If you’ve decided to wash your clothes elsewhere, like in a laver, then just pour out the dirty water, and fill it with clean. Let the clothes sit for a bit, rinse them, and repeat if needed.

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5. Carefully remove excess water

Wringing out delicate fabrics may damage them if not done carefully. Hold the garment with both of your hands, and squeeze out as much water as possible. Be careful not to stretch the clothes too much.

Lay down an absorbent towel and place the pieces on it, then roll the towel to absorb as much of the water as possible.

Can you hand-wash cashmere?

Cashmere is definitely a fabric that requires extra care. Although some cashmere garments can be placed in the washing machine, it’s best that you hand-wash them. If you are wondering how to hand-wash cashmere, just follow these rules:

  • Since cashmere is actually hair, your best option will be a good hair shampoo.
  • Follow the steps we’ve described above, and be very careful during the excess water removing part. It’s a big no-no to wring out cashmere clothes – you may end up disfiguring the pieces. Instead, gently press them into a ball.
  • Don’t forget – cashmere loves cold water. A 30° water temperature or less will be perfect.

How to hand-wash silk

Silk is another type of fabric that needs special treatment. Here are some simple rules to remember:

  • When drying, direct sunlight is not silk’s friend. It can damage both the colour and the fabric.
  • Never use a dryer for your silk pieces. Use an absorbent towel instead.
  • Silk prefers lukewarm water and gentle cleaning products. 
  • Check the label beforehand to find out can you hand-wash silk. If you see a crossed bucket symbol – you better take it to the dry cleaners. And if you are wondering can you hand-wash silk when it says dry clean only, again, check the label.

How to dry hand-washed clothes

Since your hands don’t have the power of a centrifuge, your hand-washed clothes will surely be wetter than if you’ve used a washing machine.

So, lay the clothes on a clean, flat surface without stretching them. To speed up the drying process, you can place them on a towel. Let them air dry, and after 2-4 hours, flip them so the other side can dry too.

Silk, polyester, and cotton clothing can dry on a hanger.

Get professionals to take care of your clothes

If you want to spend the time doing your favourite things or be with your family instead of dealing with a pile of dirty clothes, you can rely on professional laundry services or dry cleaning services. Experienced professionals will take care of your laundry, and you will have all your clothes fresh and clean right at your doorstep within 24 hours.

Need a professional laundry and dry cleaning service?

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  • Before hand-washing, read the label of every piece of clothing to learn its specifics;
  • Be mindful when wringing out and twisting your clothes. It’s a big no-no for some fabrics, like wool and cashmere;
  • When letting wool and cashmere dry, put them on a flat surface, and periodically turn the clothing. Other fabrics, like silk and polyester, can dry on a hanger;
  • If you don’t have any detergent or soap, you can use baby shampoo or mild liquid soap.


Have any questions? Our team is at your disposal – leave us a comment below, and we will answer it.

Image Source: Shutterstock / Rozhnovskaya Tanya

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