How to Hand Wash Clothes: A Step-by-Step Guide


In this guide, we will take you through the process of hand-washing clothes and as well as share some tips and tricks that could help you along the way.

Overall, hand washing clothes is a great way to gently clean delicate and even expensive clothing items that aren’t recommended for machine washing because they can easily get damaged.

When Would You Choose Hand Washing

There are a few most common reasons to go for hand washing.

  • Delicate fabrics. Hand washing is an excellent option for delicate fabrics, such as silk or wool, that can be easily damaged by machine washing.
  • Spot stains. Hand washing can be an effective way to treat stains because you can target specific spots with extra attention.
  • Small loads. If you have a small load of clothes that don’t require loading the washing machine on a full cycle, hand washing can be a more efficient option.
  • When travelling. If you’re travelling and don’t have access to a washing machine, hand washing can be a convenient way to keep your clothes clean.
  • Save water. Another reason you might want to choose hand washing is that it’s environmentally conscious as it uses less water and energy than machine washing.

However, it’s also important to note that hand washing may not be as effective as machine washing at removing dirt and bacteria, especially if you have heavily stained clothes. Also, hand washing can be more time-consuming and labour-intensive than machine washing.

What Do You Need to Hand Wash Your Clothes?

There are just a few items you need to prepare before starting:

  • A basin or a bucket to fill in with water. Or you can use the sink; Just make sure it’s clean and clog the drain with the water plunger.
  • Suitable for hand washing soap or detergent.
  • A few towels and a drying rack or airer.

Hand Washing Process Explained Step by Step

Step 1. Sort your clothes by colour and fabric type and wash them separately

By doing this, you will prevent colours from bleeding onto lighter clothes or delicate fabrics from becoming tangled with rougher ones.

Step 2. Fill a basin or a sink with lukewarm water

Make sure the water isn’t too hot, because it can cause the clothes to shrink or fade their colour. But on the other hand, cold water would not effectively wash out heavily stained clothes.

In general, it’s recommended to read the labels on your clothes to see what temperature of water is recommended for washing them.

Step 3. Mix the detergent in the water

It’s recommended to use a detergent that’s safe for hand washing and appropriate for the fabric of your clothes.

Step 4. Scrub any stains

Immerse your clothes in the water and gently stir them for a few minutes. Carefully scrub with your hands any areas that need extra attention, such as collars or cuffs.

If you’re trying to remove a stain, you may need to soak the garment before hand-washing for several hours or even overnight, depending on the type of stain and its severity.

Step 5. Rinse

To rinse the clothes, you have to drain the soapy water and refill the basin with clean water. Submerge the clothes in the clean water and gently swirl them around to remove any remaining soap, and repeat the rinsing if needed.

Step 6. Wring out the clothes

Thoroughly remove the clothes from the water and gently squeeze any excess water out, but be careful not to wring or twist the clothes because you can damage the fabric.

Step 7. Dry clothes

Lay down the clothes on a clean towel and roll them up to absorb any remaining moisture. Afterwards, hang or lay the clothes to air dry, and it’s best to avoid placing them in direct sunlight because it can cause their colours to fade.

Additional Tips to Keep in Mind When Hand Washing Clothes

Below, we gathered a few more things to consider that will help you along the way:

  • Do not overcrowd the basin or sink in which you’re washing your clothes because it will be harder to clean and rinse them thoroughly.
  • Don’t use bleach or fabric softeners, as these are typically chemical products that are too harsh for delicate fabrics.
  • Always read the care label on your clothes to make sure they’re safe for hand washing.
  • If the area you live in is known to have hard water, it’s recommended to use more detergent to get your clothes thoroughly clean.

Are There Natural Alternatives to Hand Washing Detergents?

Actually, there are many natural alternatives to hand-washing detergents that can be just as effective at cleaning clothes. 

A few options include:

Baking soda

Baking soda is a natural deodoriser and can help remove stains and unpleasant odours from your clothes. To use it, add 1/2 cup to the water basin and soak your clothes for 30 minutes before washing them as usual.

White vinegar

White vinegar is acidic in nature, which means it can help break down dirt and grime from clothes. Just add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the basin of water and soak your clothes for around 30 minutes before washing them.

Lemon juice

Lemon juice contains natural enzymes that help remove stains from clothes as well as brighten white fabrics. Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice to the water basin and soak your clothes for around 30 minutes before hand washing them.

Soap nuts

Soap nuts are a natural alternative to traditional detergents, and they come from the Sapindus tree.

They contain saponin, which is a natural surfactant that helps lift dirt and grime from clothes. To use them, simply add a few soap nuts to the water basin and soak your clothes for 30 minutes before starting to wash them.

Castile soap

Castile soap is a vegetable-based soap that is gentle on clothes and can be used as a natural alternative to hand-washing detergents. Just add a few drops of Castile soap to the basin of water and soak your clothes for 30 minutes. Then, wash them as usual.

Even if these alternatives are natural, still make sure to rinse your clothes thoroughly after using any of them because soap residue can build up on your clothes over time and cause damage to their fabrics.

And if you are on a quest to try natural alternatives for your home, check this article for healthy ways to scent your home

Did We Convince You to Give the Hand Washing a Try?

Handwashing will definitely help you keep your delicate garments looking like new for much longer. And now, you know how to do it properly, and the process does not require so much effort, unlike cleaning the whole house, for example.

So think about giving it a try, and you might even consider sparing some of your time by using expert cleaning services for your home.

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