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How to Wash Clothes by Hand

Hand washing is simple with this guide. Whether you're washing wool, delicates, or just your usual load, these steps will help you get the best results.


How to Wash Clothes by Hand

Hand washing doesn’t have to be stressful – a few steps make the process simple and quick. Whether you’re washing wool, delicates, or just taking care of your usual load this step-by-step guide on how to hand wash clothes is here to help you get the best results with no fuss – and our five essential hand washing steps explain what not to do, so that you can avoid some of the more common laundry mishaps.

Hand washing clothes are much, much easier with a good quality detergent reducing the time you spend scrubbing and making sure any stains are removed quickly. Something like Surf excel Liquid Detergent, or Surf excel Easy Wash, which is a superfine powder designed to dissolve swiftly and clean with the power of 10 hands, is ideal. Check any product’s label, and test on a small, unnoticeable area, to ensure it’s right for your fabric before using.

Before you Start Hand Washing Clothes

If you have a washing machine, the first thing you need to check is whether you really need to be hand washing clothes at all. Most items of clothing these days can be put in the washing machine perhaps using the “Hand Wash” cycle, but some do still come with the little hand wash or dry cleaning only labels.

Delicate items of clothing or certain materials such as wool and silk need a bit of extra care when it comes to washing. Always check the labels on your items before putting the clothes in the washing machine – this will ensure none of your favourite clothes are ruined.

Many of us are so accustomed to washing machines these days that the thought of hand washing clothes can seem like a chore. (Find more info in our article on how to use a washing machine). But, even if you don’t have a machine and are washing a full load, it’s simple and easy to do if you follow this guide on how to wash clothes by hand.


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How to Hand Wash Clothes

Step 1:

Sort your clothes by colour, separating the darks and lights to be washed in two batches.

Step 2:

Fill a bucket or the washing basin with warm water. If you don’t have either, you can use a plugged sink or bathtub.

Step 3:

Rub neat liquid detergent or stain remover into any tough stains – Surf excel Liquid Detergent is ideal for this as it’s designed to also work as a pre-treatment. Dip a finger into a capful, dab it on, and drop the rest of the cap in the bucket according to the dosing instructions on the label.

Step 4:

Whatever brand you choose you’ll need to use the right detergent for your fabric to hand wash clothes properly as some delicate garments will need a gentle product.

Step 5:

Soak each item of clothing in the water for several minutes to ensure they fully absorb the detergent.

Step 6:

Start washing each item, knead and twist the clothes, so they get a thorough wash.

Step 7:

Rinse with warm, clean water. Run each item under the tap and wring out until all the detergent is gone.

Step 8:

Leave the clothes to air.

Key Steps:

  • Be sure to use the correct temperature of water for the fabric. Some materials may need to be washed with cold water.
  • Use the ‘knead and twist’ method to give your clothes a thorough wash. You should take extra care with delicate items and gently swirl the garments in your bucket or basin instead.
  • After hand washing woollen items, they should be reshaped whilst wet and left to dry flat.

Originally published