how to wash delicates
Laundry

How to Wash Delicate Clothes

It can be tricky to know how to wash delicate clothing. With advice on washing by hand & in the machine, keep clothes damage-free with our guide to delicates!

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 to find out how to wash delicate clothes, both by hand and with an appliance.

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 that need more care. 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 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.

Should I Be Washing Delicates by Hand?

Washing delicates by hand is by far the best way to keep them 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 there is usually a washing machine delicate cycle that can be used for such fragile garments.

How to Wash Delicate Clothes By Hand

It’s always best to check the wash care symbols on each individual item before washing your clothes to make sure they’re being treated in a suitable manner. Here are some general considerations to make when washing delicates:

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

How to Wash Delicates in the Washing Machine

Washing machines are great at washing clothes, but some settings can be too harsh for delicates. Use the dedicated washing machine 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 fibers.
  • Only fill the machine halfway – this will help prevent fibers 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.
  • 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 delicates in the safest way possible. So there’s no need to be put off buying any beautiful, delicate garments!

Top Tip


When you are washing delicates, always use a good quality laundry detergent like those by Breeze. Before you begin, remember to read the directions on a product to check it is suitable for the type of material you want to wash.

Key Steps:

  1. You should ideally hand wash delicate items using warm water.
  2. 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 temperature setting.