We’ve all done it. We’ve lugged clothes to the dry cleaner because we’re unsure how to wash them properly. There’s no shame in turning to experts when you need them—and for a number of garments it’s simply the most convenient option. However, in many cases, delicates can be washed at home safely, by hand. It’s just a matter of knowing how to treat the most fragile items in your laundry basket.
When your garment’s label reads “Hand-Wash Only,” don’t freak out! Simply follow these steps:
- Fill a large clean basin, tub or bowl with water. The item’s label may recommend a water temp, but when in doubt, use lukewarm.
- Stir in a teaspoon of mild detergent. Laundry soap specially formulated for delicates is best, but regular detergent will do.
- Gently submerge your garment (and don’t overload the tub with more than 1-2 items). Swish it around gently, then let it soak in the suds for about five minutes.
- Drain the tub completely and refill it with clean water. Push the item up and down until the soap rinses out. Refill the tub as many times as necessary.
- Remove the item. Gently squeeze and press it to remove excess water (I do this in a colander to help it drain). Do not twist or wring it—that’ll stretch the fibers and ruin the garment’s shape.
- Delicate clothes generally need to be air dried. Find a space to lay it out flat, and shape it to prevent any weird wrinkling. If the garment’s made of sturdier fabric, you can hang it out to dry.
Easy, right? Follow these steps and your delicate garments will stay better, longer.