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How Should I Wash My Delicates? : Advice for Washing Clothes

Taking care of your delicate wool, silk and linen clothing is easy when you know how. Find out how to hand wash and machine wash delicates here.

Updated By Cleanipedia Team

How to wash your delicate clothing (wool, silk & linen)
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People sometimes avoid buying delicate items of clothing because they are concerned about being able to wash them correctly. However, it’s actually very simple to keep fragile items looking their best, and you can even use a washing machine if you want! Read on for more tips on washing clothes and dealing with delicate items of clothing.

What Items are Delicate?

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 cottons and thin linens can become damaged through high heats and active spinning in a washing machine, and silk and woolens 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.

Should I Wash Delicate Items by Hand?

Hand washing is by far the best way to keep delicate or fragile clothes looking their best. Being in control of the entire washing process – including the exact 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.

When you are washing delicate clothing, it’s best to use a mild laundry detergent that is specially designed for delicates such as Persil Silk & Wool. Always read the label before you begin.

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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. Here are some general considerations to make when washing delicate items.

  1. Gather items of the same material together

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

  2. Use mild detergent, such as Persil Silk & Wool.

    Fill a basin with lukewarm water and a detergent intended for delicate items, like Persil Silk & Wool. A mild detergent will be gentle on your clothes as well as your skin.

  3. Swirl the garments in the basin.

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

  4. Leave to air dry.

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

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:

  1. Gather items of the same material.

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

  2. Fill the machine halfway.

    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.

  3. Use mild detergent, such as Persil Silk & Wool.

    Use a detergent intended for delicate items, such as Persil Silk & Wool. A mild detergent will be gentle on your clothes as well as your skin.

  4. Use a cool setting.

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

  5. Use a cold rinse.

    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.

  6. Allow the items to air dry.

    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.

The Poll

When buying dishwasher tablets, which of these is most important to you?

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Ideally you should hand wash delicate items using warm water.

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.

Originally published