reports2021/10/12

How To Hand Wash Your Clothes

Photographs by Clothes Doctor

Hand washing clothes is the best way to increase the longevity of your favourite garments. The gentle touch of your own hands will preserve fibres, colours and embellishments in a way washing machines just can't.
Being confronted with a garment's care label covered in strange symbols can be very confusing, not to mention the dreaded 'dry clean only' instruction, but we're here to show you the best way to hand wash your clothes - even those dry clean only garments! 
Back To Basics
  
So, what do you actually need to wash your clothes? The washing process is about lifting dirt from your clothes, and washing it away. The essentials to do this are:
  • Water - This is the fundamental 'active ingredient' for cleaning. When it permeates into clothing fibres and rubs against dirt and grease, it washes it away, but it can't do this alone.
  • Detergent - This helps the water clean better. It contains active ingredients called surfactants. The surfactant molecules help the water to permeate the clothes better, while another part of the molecule attaches to dirt and grease to help to lift it away.
  • Movement or 'agitation' - This helps to break down dirt into smaller particles which are easier to lift and wash away. However it can add wear and tear to clothing, damage fibres and cause microfibres to be released into the water.
  • Heat - The warmer the water, the less the water and detergent have to work to lift stains. However, hot water can damage and shrink clothes, cause dyes to run and also uses a lot of energy to heat up.

To reduce the risk of wear and tear, we recommend a hand wash for certain items in your wardrobe. Plus, hand washing releases far fewer microfibres back into our water supply - another bonus! However, it is more crucial to hand wash certain garments than others. 

We Recommend Hand Washing... Silk, cashmere, wool, lace, mohair, angora, garments with detailing and embellishments, lace, rayon, swimsuits and delicate underwear.
Machine Wash... Cotton, most synthetics, acrylic and sportswear but you may prefer to hand wash high performance sportswear.
Dry/Specialist Clean... Tailored items, leather, viscose (which is a type of rayon that needs specialist care - if this one says 'dry clean only' it's best you clean it that way).
 
How To Hand Wash
  • Fill a basin with cool water. We recommend a cool hand wash; generally 30 degrees is a good rule of thumb. For knitwear, lukewarm water is best, and definitely use cold water for your silks. 
  • Grab the perfect detergent - This depends on what type of fabric you're washing, as specialist fibres need specialist care.
  • Mix the recommended amount of detergent (usually 1-2 capfuls) into the water and add your garments. Don't overfill your basin with garments as they need room for the water to circulate.
  • To hand wash, agitate the garments in the water. Be gentle, as garments like cashmere may warp and misshape if they're stretched around too much. 
  • Rinse the garments with fresh, clean water until the bubbles have washed away.
  • Gently press out excess water with your hands or against the side of the basin. Try to press out as much as possible so the garments dry quickly.

Forget The Dryer

As we've mentioned, washing machines can agitate your clothing causing thinning, broken threads and holes over time - the same goes for tumble dryers. Dryers can stretch and warp fabrics, and the heat applied to your garments in the dryer isn't great either. If you really want to hack the ultimate clothing care routine, we recommend always air drying clothing, whether that's outside on a line or inside on a rack. 

Drying outside in the sun can also help keep your light clothing bright, as the sun's UV rays will naturally bleach fabrics. Conversely, dry dark and coloured fabric out of direct sunlight to avoid colour fading - drying garments inside out will help this too! 

Your knitwear should be dried on a flat surface to avoid misshaping. 

You'll soon notice that hand washing your clothing has exponential benefits for the look and longevity of your garments - plus, it's so much better for the environment, as there's less water used, less heat applied and fewer microfibres released. You can thank us later! 

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