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How to wash delicates

Taking care of your delicate items of clothing – wool, silk and linen – is easy when you know how. Read on to find out how to wash delicates.


By Cleanipedia Team

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Key Steps:

  1. Ideally you should hand wash delicate items using warm water. Find out more on how to hand wash delicates by hand, below!

  2. Opt for a delicate detergent designed to care for your clothes.

  3. However, you can let the washing machine do the hard work for you, but be sure to use the delicate cycle, and a cool, or lukewarm temperate setting.

People sometimes avoid buying delicate items of clothing because they are concerned about being able to wash them correctly. However, learning how to wash delicate clothes at home is actually very simple, and you can even use a washing machine if you want! It's even better if you have a delicate washing detergent to hand. Learn how to wash delicates with these useful tips on washing clothes and dealing with delicate items of clothing.

When you are washing delicate clothing, it’s best to use a delicate laundry detergent that is specially designed for this type of garment – like Persil Non-Bio – there's a whole range of Persil care for delicates to explore. Always read the directions on a product to check it is suitable for the type of material you want to wash before you begin.

What Items are Delicate?

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While towels and even some bedding materials are strong and sturdy and can handle quite vigorous washing, there are some materials to look out for. Delicate items include linen, silk, wool, and embroidered or embellished garments. Soft cotton and thin linens can become damaged through high heats and active spinning in a washing machine, and silk and woollens could fray or shrink if they are not taken care of properly. If you own any embroidered items, it’s also a good idea to keep these separate from the main wash, to ensure the needlework doesn’t unravel.

For more specific advice by material or item type, try our articles:

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Should I Wash Delicate Items by Hand?

Hand washing is by far the best way to keep delicate or fragile clothes looking their best. Knowing how to hand wash delicate items by hand puts you in control of the entire washing process. Being able to monitor the water temperature and how much you handle the garment is hugely beneficial, and hand  washing means you can stop at any point.

However, it’s not necessary to hand wash all the time, and many washing machines include a delicate cycle that can be used for such fragile or delicate garments. For best results, always use a delicate washing detergent suitable for your treasured garms. 

How Do I Hand Wash Delicate Items?

It’s always best to check the wash care symbols on each individual items before washing your clothes to make sure they’re being treated in a suitable manner. Knowing how to hand wash delicates is a useful life skill, so check out these general considerations to make when washing delicate items.

  • First, gather items of the same material together; this reduces the chance of different materials becoming loose and tangling with the delicate fibres.

  • Fill a basin with lukewarm water and a detergent intended for delicate items. A mild detergent will be gentle on your clothes as well as your skin.

  • Gently swirl the garments in the basin, paying special attention to any stains or spots.

  • Leave to air dry, either hanging from a rail, or – for items that are prone to stretching, such as woollens – leave the garment lying flat on a towel.

This step-by-step video guide will show you how to wash delicate materials properly.

How Do I Machine Wash Delicate Items?

Washing machines are great at washing clothes, but some settings can be too harsh for delicates. Use the machine’s delicate cycle, or, if your machine doesn’t have this option, follow these simple rules:

  • As with hand washing, gather items of the same material together for a wash instead of mixing different fibres.

  • Only fill the machine halfway – this will help prevent fibres becoming tangled. If your machine has a half load option, it’s best to use it here, as it will reduce the amount of water used, conserving water and saving money.

  • Choose a delicate detergent, such as Persil Non-Bio. There's a whole range of Persil care for delicates to explore. 

  • Use a cool or lukewarm temperature setting, and a slow spin cycle. High temperatures can shrink some materials, while vigorous spinning can damage materials.

  • Use a cold rinse. Some people worry that cold washes won’t get their clothes clean, but as long as you’re using a good quality detergent, there’s no need to be concerned.

  • If you have a dryer, don’t be tempted to dry your delicate pieces of clothing in the machine. Instead, allow the delicate items to dry naturally, and away from direct sunlight to prevent bleaching.

Washing silk, wool, and linen doesn’t need to be something you fear, with these tips you can be assured you’re washing your delicate items in the safest way possible. Be confident knowing how to wash delicates – there’s no need to be put-off buying beautiful, yet delicate garments!

For more information on the ingredients in products mentioned in this tip, visit What’s in Unilever Products here.

Originally published