Hand Washing delicate clothing can be easy with these easy-to-follow guidelines from the laundry experts at Heritage Park.
If you’re like us, you’ve probably got a load of laundry running right now. And while it may be hard to believe -- especially since our machine gets a workout that rivals a busy laundry service -- some clothing still requires hand washing. Delicate fabric like silk, cashmere, and wool; fine lingerie, nightwear, and hosiery; and any garment with ornate lace, embroidery or other adornments that might get torn in the washing machine. Of course, you could dry clean some of these items, but dry cleaning can be costly and inconvenient. Hand washing is definitely the way to go, and it’s easier than you think.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about hand washing your clothes from the laundry experts at Heritage Park Laundry Essentials.
Which Clothes Should Be Hand Washed and Why?
The answer to this question can easily be found in one place: the care label of your garment. Always consult the care label before washing or laundering any garment, particularly one that is made of a natural fiber like wool, angora, or silk or delicate like hosiery, lingerie, or bras with underwires.
As a general guideline, the following items should be considered good candidates for handwashing:
- Lingerie and hosiery
- Delicate nightgowns and slips
- Washable silk blouses
- Wool, angora, and cashmere sweaters
- Wool socks
- Exercise garments (to preserve shape and elasticity)
- Bathing suits
- ANY item with delicate beadwork, lace, embroidery, or adornment
Delicate fabrics like these are susceptible to damage in your washing machine, including losing their shape; being ripped, torn, or shrunk; and having their underwire/support stays come out. (Note: if machine washing a delicate item is your only option, see below for more information).
Choose the Best Laundry Detergent for Hand Washing Clothes
Properly caring for delicate clothing -- particularly items that must be washed by hand -- requires choosing the right laundry detergent. You want a mild detergent that is gentle on fine fabric, but can remove stains and odors. Many commercial detergents are made with harsh chemicals and dyes that can damage fabric, while “gentle” formulas aren’t strong enough to get the job done
Our All-Purpose Laundry Detergent and Silk and Wool Laundry Detergent are a better choice than store brand detergent. These plant-based, concentrated, pH-neutral formulas are made to clean clothes while protecting the integrity of the delicate fabric. The fragrance-free varieties are hypoallergenic and pediatrician- and dermatologist-tested and an ideal choice for sensitive skin. You can feel good about using Heritage Park detergents; they are biodegradable, safe for septic and grey water systems, and Leaping Bunny approved as never being tested on animals. Best of all, they can be used for machine or hand washing in any temperature water. Let’s take a look at the best uses for each of these formulas.
Heritage Park All-Purpose Laundry Detergent: This formula is ideal for cotton and other plant-based textiles like bamboo and modal; blends; and synthetics. Along with its natural and naturally derived ingredients, our All-Purpose detergent contains a proprietary blend of powerful laundry enzymes. Similar to digestive enzymes in saliva, laundry enzymes work in conjunction to break down stains, most of which are protein-based. When treated with laundry enzymes, even the toughest stains including grease, grass, body fluids, and red wine will break down and dissolve in the wash. You can learn more about laundry enzymes and how they work individually and together to tackle stains here.
Heritage Park Silk and Wool Laundry Detergent: This formula has all the plant-based power of our regular detergent, but is made without the laundry enzymes. Why? Because laundry enzymes are made to dissolve protein-based stains. Silk, wool, and other natural fibers are actually protein-based themselves. Therefore, regular washing of these items with an enzyme detergent can degrade the fabric. Use our specially formulated silk and wool detergent to get these items clean while protecting the fabric.
Whether you use our All-Purpose or Silk and Wool formula, rest assured that Heritage Park detergents contain no harsh chemicals or irritants. They are made without dyes, phosphates, sulfates, chlorine, bleach, or brighteners so they are gentle on your skin and fine fabric. Learn more about what we leave out of our detergents here.
Note: we also offer our All-Purpose and Silk and Wool detergents in delicately scented options that are not strictly hypoallergenic but still plant-based and pure.
6 Simple Steps to Hand Wash Clothes
What you’ll need:
- Your Heritage Park Laundry Detergent (of course!)
- A wash basin, or a nice squeaky clean sink
- A clean, white (or light-colored) towel
- We recommend hand washing only one clothing item at a time; if you do wash more than one, sort dirty laundry by color and weight and wash only two or three lightweight items together. Always hand wash a wool sweater by itself.
- Pre-treat any stains with either an enzyme-based stain remover (use caution on natural fibers like silk and wool, and always test on an inconspicuous area first) or with a mix of our All-Purpose Detergent and water. This can be in a little cup or in a spray bottle if you have one handy.
- Fill a sink, clean bucket, or wash basin with cool water or lukewarm water (hot water is not recommended for delicate fabric). The best place to do this is in or near a large sink, like your kitchen sink, that’s clear of dirty dishes.
- Add the recommended amount of soap and lightly mix with your hand to diffuse it into the water.
- Place the garment in the soapy water and light knead and swish the item around in a gentle, agitating motion. Think of how a washing machine agitator moves. If you wish, leave the item to soak for approx. 5 minutes.
- Drain the dirty water and gently rinse with clean, cold water. Squeeze out excess water, do NOT wring. The best way to remove excess water is to lay out a dry, clean, white bath towel, lay your item on top of it, and gently roll the item up in the towel. Then press the towel to absorb the water.
How to Dry Clothes After Washing
Roll wet clothes in a clean, white dry towel to remove excess water. Lay items flat to dry on another towel or use a drying rack. Washable silk, wool and linen should be laid out or hung to dry away from direct sunlight; even indoor sunlight can sometimes fade and ‘sunburn’ these fibers.
If You Must Machine Wash, Read This First
We understand that sometimes life gets in the way, and hand washing an item isn’t always possible. While we always recommend following the manufacturer's instructions, it is possible to wash some delicate items in your washing machine provided it offers a “hand wash cycle.” You can learn more about washing machine cycles here. In this situation, we always recommend using the most gentle cycle your machine has and placing your items in a fine mesh laundry bag to protect them from damage inside the machine.
Heritage Park Laundry Essentials
At Heritage Park, caring for fine fabric is our passion. As lifelong collectors of luxury sheets, towels, and cloths, we found many commercially available "gentle detergents" either damaged our fabrics or didn't get the job done, leaving stains. We knew we could do better. So we developed a formula with the perfect balance of powerful -- yet safe -- ingredients designed to remove tough, set-in stains while remaining gentle on luxury linens. Please connect with us at (800) 977-1841 or visit our store or email us with any product feedback or cleaning questions.