Hand washing clothes is good . . .
- For most lingerie, hosiery, and other delicate items. If your garment has this symbol, you should hand wash it.
- For your favorite old sweater. Hand washing will protect a treasured garment from the rigors of machine washing.
- When traveling or camping. Washing a few lightweight items by hand can extend your clean wardrobe over several extra days.
Hand washing clothes is not so good for . . .
- Large amounts of laundry. Not only does this take a lot of time, it probably uses more water to rinse the clothes clean than if you were to use a machine.
- Towels, jeans, and sheets. Once again, this is a question of rinsing. Rinsing a large sheet clean of laundry detergent is difficult and towels and other heavy items hold on to the detergent rather stubbornly.
Tips for How to Wash by Hand
Use a clean sink. The kitchen sink is likely to have traces of food and grease. Use the bathroom sink instead.
Pre-treat stains. You can treat stains just like you do before putting clothes in the machine. Read packages carefully and test in an inconspicuous place if you are not sure of the effect on your garment.
Adjust water temperature. Follow the garment directions. 30° C water is cool, 40°C water is quite warm, and 60°C water is very hot, and probably doesn’t come out of your tap anyway. Stopper the sink and fill it with water, adding the detergent into the stream of water.
Use an appropriate laundry detergent. Use a detergent that is specifically for hand washing clothes. These special detergents are easier to rinse out of the garment and they are easier on delicates, as well as your hands.
On the Road
Toss a few of these in your suitcase and you’ll have all you need to do a little hand washing. Travel Size Liquid Soap comes in small packages – just the amount needed to do one sinkful of laundry.
Mixing garments. The same rules that apply for machine washing, apply here, i.e. don’t mix darks and whites, nor heavy items with light items. Depending on the size of your sink, you will only want to wash a few garments at a time anyway.
Soaking. Save yourself some work and let the garment soak a bit. 10 minutes should do it.
Kneading. Now’s the time to get your hands in there – you may want to protect yourself with gloves. You can wash similarly to how you’d knead bread. Keep it up for several minutes.
Hand Washing Device
The Rapid Washer looks a bit like a toilet plunger but is designed to help pull the water through your clothes. Recommended for heavier items. Can be used in the sink, bathtub, or bucket.
Rinsing. This is the hardest part of hand-washing clothes. It takes a lot of water to get detergent out of clothes. Begin by draining the soapy water out of the sink and giving the item a quick rinse. Then fill the sink with clean water and knead the clothes a bit more in the clean water. You may need to repeat the draining and filling with clean water part several times. Finish with a long rinse under running water.
Drying. It’s not recommended that you wring most clothes, especially delicates. Some items can be placed on a clean dry towel and gently rolled up and pressed to remove some water. A salad wringer can be used on small items. Don’t forget to lay sweaters and other stretchy garments flat for drying. For efficient drying, get the right laundry drying rack.