Should You Hand-Wash Your Delicates?

Woman holding a pile of linen shirts in her hands

Whether it be a silk shirt or a lace bra, delicate clothing requires a different level of care compared to your everyday clothing. While you may be able to put these into the washing machine a few times, this will only end up ruining them in the long-term, making it important that you understand exactly how they need to be cared for.

What Exactly are Delicates?
Delicate items of clothing include those made from materials such as linen, silk and wool, as well as those that have been embellished or embroidered. Soft, thin cottons can also be classed as delicate clothing, as these can quickly become damaged in a washing machine due to the high heat and intense spinning cycles.

The Benefits of Hand Washing
While hand washing may take more time than throwing your clothes into a washing machine, it does come with some benefits. By hand washing, you have complete control over the whole washing process, meaning not just over how the garment is handled, but also the water temperature used. With hand washing, you are also able to stop washing as soon as your delicates are clean, whereas a machine would keep going until that cycle has ended, even if your clothing does not need the extra washing time.

How to Hand Wash Delicates
When hand washing delicates, you should always group together similar items, such as having all silk items together and all embellished items together, as this will prevent the materials from each one interfering with the others. Simply fill a basin with lukewarm water, as well as some detergent, making sure to pick one that has been designed for delicate clothing. These will usually be milder, meaning that they will be far more gentle on your clothes. Swirl your delicates around in the basin, paying close attention to any spots or stains, before leaving them to air dry. If you have delicates that can easily be stretched, leave these lying flat on a towel rather than hanging them.

Smiling woman putting clothes into washing machine

Machine Washing Delicates
Some washing machines have a special setting for delicate clothing, but, even if yours does not, there are still ways in which you can wash your delicates in a machine, although this does come with a few risks. To prevent the delicate fabrics from becoming tangled, use the half load option on your machine, and make sure to set it to a cool or lukewarm water temperature, as well as the slowest spin cycle there is. Again, just like with hand washing, delicates should be air dried rather than put into a dryer.

Your delicate clothing is likely to be amongst your favorite items of clothing, so it is important to wash them in the right way, so that they will be able to last for as long as possible. Even if you are not able to hand wash them, make sure that you take the necessary steps before putting them into a machine, as this will prevent them from experiencing any damage.

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