Washing your clothes by hand has a number of benefits. You will conserve energy through bypassing the electric washing machine, you will save water too because of this. You will save money too of course and even get a workout to boot!
This description is certainly not meant to patronise, but the simple fact is, that many of us have never really had to wash our clothes by hand. It may seem obvious, chuck some clothes into hot water, add a few bubbles and scrub? It’s not exactly rocket science, right?
You are right, it is not difficult, in fact even your kids could do it! We just want to give you the best and most efficient way to wash your clothes by hand, ensuring you are left with hygienic and squeaky clean socks at the end of it.
What You Will Need
A clean sink or large clean tub
Water (temperature to be discussed)
Mild detergent (of your choice – you can make your own)
A stack of hangers
Outdoor clothesline (Will discuss further down)
Check the labels on your garments and separate based on what should be washed at the hottest temperatures. You can use the guide here to help you decide. This great page gives full details on how to care for each fabric.
Next separate the white clothes from the coloured clothes. You can also break this down into dark clothes, bright clothes and light clothes as you usually would. For anything that you are washing for the first time, test them for colour fastness by washing alone.
Now comes the washing! Put your first batch of clothes (chosen based on colour matching and similar temperature requirements) into your sink or tub, add the detergent and water and then leave for around 30 minutes to steep.
Next you can ‘stir’ the water to swish the clothes around a bit. You can squeeze, press, pummel and generally mash them up a bit as would happen in the machine before starting work on each garment.
Take each piece of clothing and give it individual attention. You can rub the fabric together between your knuckles, particularly focusing on the grubbier bits such as armpits and collars.
If there are any stains you should also work on those. We will cover specific stain care in more detail below.
Next, you need to rinse each garment thoroughly with clean water to remove any trace of the detergent. If you are using a natural homemade detergent you can save the water to use on your garden, or to wash the next batch of clothes in.
Next comes the work out! There are various methods of removing excess water, but basically you will need to squeeze each piece and twist. You can do this by rolling garments up inside towels if you are worried about affecting the shape of any delicate pieces.
Wool and Cashmere
It is important to pay special care to woollen and cashmere items. They should be washed only in lukewarm water, and should not be wrung out or twisted. These should be laid out flat to dry.
Be sure to wash any silk items in warm water. You can go ahead and hang silk to dry, as there is no chance of shrinkage.