How to hand wash clothes

Even if you have a washing machine, you might prefer to wash your delicate items by hand. These tips will make handwashing clothes efficient and effective!


Close up of hands hand-washing clothes with a brush

Key Steps: 

  • 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 specialist hand wash detergent. Check the instructions for the recommended amount to use per a wash.
  • Dry delicates naturally – ideally they should be dried flat.

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 wash clothes by hand – 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 washing clothes by hand, the most important thing to remember is to read the label on your garment for cleaning advice. It’s also important to use an appropriate detergent – we like Persil Non-Bio.

Equipment for Hand Washing Clothes

You will need:

  • A basin, sink, or tub
  • A gentle liquid detergent like Persil Non-Bio
  • Lots of water
  • A towel and flat surfaces for drying

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

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 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 specialist hand-wash 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.
  • 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.
  • If you wish, add a small amount of fabric conditioner (we like Comfort) to another tub and leave clothes to soak for twenty minutes to half an hour. Make sure to follow the directions on the label.
  • Drain all the dirty water from your sink, basin, or tub.
  • Rinse each item of clothing thoroughly in fresh water to get rid of any traces of detergent.
  • Dry delicate items such as jumpers and dresses flat on a towel to avoid distortion.

Once dried, your delicate items should be ready to wear. Try it for yourself and enjoy wearing your freshly hand washed clothes!

Do you use powder, capsules or liquid to wash your clothes?

Originally published