How to Wash Clothes by Hand: A Definitive Guide

How to Wash Clothes by Hand


Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

From silks and satins to embroidered accessories, some of our most beloved wardrobe items simply aren’t suited for the washer and dryer. To preserve the quality and longevity of your more delicate pieces, knowing how to wash clothes by hand can be a major game changer. Laundering these items at home can be achieved in just a few steps with materials you probably already have at home. While the task of washing clothes by hand may sound daunting, it’s simpler (and less time-consuming) than you’d think. Here’s how to take matters into your own hands.

Read on to learn how to wash clothes by hand in just five steps.

1. Follow the Rules

It may sound simple, but following the care instructions on your garment’s label can save you a lot of heartache when it comes to washing clothes by hand. If you’re not sure what the symbols mean, consult a laundry-care instruction guide beforehand.

2. Prep Water and Detergent

Hand Washing Clothes


Szymon Brzoska / The Style Stalker

Provided that your garment is not dry-clean only, it’s safe to proceed with handwashing. Fill a small tub with cool or lukewarm water, then add a teaspoon of mild liquid laundry detergent. It’s important to avoid using hot water since this can affect the shape and color of your clothing. Swish the detergent around to ensure proper distribution.

3. Clean the Garment

Best Way to Wash Clothes by Hand



Fully submerge the article of clothing into the water, then allow it to sit for five to 10 minutes. Make sure that the garment is resting loosely in the tub, without any tightly folded or bunched-up sections of fabric. Next, gently swish the fabric through the water. Avoid scrubbing, scrunching, or any other intense motions since this can cause excess wear or alter the garment’s shape, especially when it comes to delicate fabrics.

4. Rinse the Garment

How to Hand Wash Clothing


Szymon Brzoska / The Style Stalker

Gently remove the garment from the water (avoid the temptation to wring it out), and drain the tub of the soapy water. Refill the tub with clean, lukewarm water, and gently swish the garment through the water to rinse. Repeat this step until the water runs completely clear.

5. Dry the Garment

How to Hand-Wash Clothes


Szymon Brzoska / The Style Stalker

One of the most important stages of washing clothes by hand is proper drying. Once the item is fully rinsed, lay it flat on a dry towel and gently roll the two up together. Extremely lightweight pieces can be immediately hung to air dry, but heavier-weight items should be laid flat in a cool, well-ventilated area to avoid stretching.


Pieces We Currently Love:

Up next, keep reading to learn how to bleach clothes without damaging them.

This story was published at an earlier date and has been recently updated