Unilever logo
Cleanipedia AU logo

How to Hand Wash Clothes

When your favourite clothes need a little extra attention, hand washing is necessary. Learn more about how to effectively wash clothes by hand here!



Hand washing clothes is one of the simplest things you can do to care for delicate or precious garments. Fabrics such as silk, satin, mohair, wool, and embroidery, and structured garments like dresses and even jumpers often benefit from hand washing. This step-by-step guide explains how to hand wash clothes properly – although it is worth noting that some washing machines also have a hand washing function for fabrics requiring more gentle treatment than a standard machine wash.

When you’re hand-washing clothes, the most important thing to remember is to read the label on your garment for cleaning advice. Wear protective gloves and wash using a good quality detergent like Omo Liquid.

how to hand wash your clothes

Equipment for Hand Washing Clothes

You will need:

  • A basin, sink, or tub

  • A specialised hand wash detergent.

  • Lots of water

  • A towel and flat surfaces for drying.

How to Hand Wash Clothes in 9 Steps

  • Before hand washing clothes, always check the label of the garment. Many ‘hand wash only’ clothes require cold water, while silk and wool require specialist detergents, and others are cleaned more effectively at warm or lukewarm temperatures. Items labelled ‘dry clean only’ should not be hand washed, as some materials are unsuitable for hand washing and may be damaged by water.

  • Fill a basin, sink or tub with water at a temperature corresponding with the one suggested on the label. If you’re hand washing multiple garments, go with the lowest suitable temperature, or add more hot water as you go along.

  • Add an appropriate amount of detergent and make sure it is thoroughly dissolved.

  • Add the clothes to the water, one at a time. If they are stained, leave them to soak for up to half an hour. This will reduce time and effort required hand washing clothes, as well as being easier on fragile fabrics than repeated kneading or rubbing.

  • Wearing gloves, wash the clothes, paying particular attention to any stained or marked areas. Rub the fabric gently against itself and agitate in the water. Hand washing clothes can be one of the more therapeutic household tasks, as it’s a matter of patience and care rather than frantic scrubbing.

  • Drain all the dirty water from your sink, basin, or tub.

  • Rinse each item of clothing thoroughly in fresh water. If you wish, add a small amount of fabric conditioner and leave clothes to soak for twenty minutes to half an hour. (We like using Comfort Pure, as it’s kind to skin and smells great!) Make sure you follow the instructions and dosing guidelines on the label.

  • Rinse again!

  • Dry delicate items such as jumpers and dresses flat on a towel to avoid distortion.

Once dried, your items should be ready to wear. Now you know how to hand wash clothes properly, keeping your delicate clothes clean and fresh won’t ever be an issue. Try it for yourself and see!

  • After establishing that your garment is ‘hand wash only’ by consulting the care label, also check to see what temperature water you should use when hand washing.

  • Use a detergent like Omo Liquid. Check the instructions for the recommended amount to use per a wash.

  • Wear protective gloves.

  • Dry delicates naturally – ideally they should be dried flat.

Originally published