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How to Hand Wash Clothes – The Do’s and Don'ts

Although washing machines do a great job of getting our clothes clean, there are times when a gentle hand wash really is the best option. For luxurious silks, delicate woollens, and party clothes with embellishments, the vigorous motion of the washing machine could potentially damage the material, so it’s recommended that you treat these garments with care. The good news is that hand washing clothes doesn’t have to be a nightmare chore! If you’re unsure how to hand wash effectively and efficiently, here’s everything you need to know in a handy ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ guide.  


How to Hand Wash Clothes: A Guide

Before you start: be sure to check the care label on your garment for specific washing instructions. Some delicate items may actually be dry clean only – if so, consult the advice of a professional dry cleaner.  


  • Separate your clothing based on colours if you’re washing more than one garment, changing the water in between washes. The last thing you want is for your brilliant white silk shirt to come out of the tub looking a vivid shade of blue!
  • Use two different tubs – one filled with soapy water for washing, and one filled with clean, fresh water for rinsing. Ensure the water is cold, not hot, as hot water could damage some fabrics; for example, a wool jumper may shrink in hot water. If you don’t have two tubs, drain all the dirty water before rinsing the clothing in clean water.
  • Use a laundry detergent that is specifically designed for delicate fabrics, especially if you’re washing wool or silk. Persil Non-Bio Liquid Detergent is formulated to be gentle on fragile fabrics, using mild ingredients that still have great cleaning powers.
  • Make use of the hand wash cycle on your washing machine. The hand wash cycle on a washing machine spins clothing at a slower rate, mimicking the gentle actions of a traditional hand wash. It can save you a lot of time! If you have a standard front or top loading washing machine then it’s best to use a liquid detergent like Persil Non-Bio Liquid Detergent, but if you have a twin tub machine Persil Non-Bio Washing Powder is the better choice.



  • Don’t use powdered laundry detergent unless it is specifically designed for hand washing – although traditional powdered detergents clean well, remains of the powder can get stuck to the bottom of the tub if they do not dissolve properly, and your clothes might not come out as clean as you hoped. There’s no need to worry about this if you’re using a liquid detergent like Persil Silk & Wool or with Persil Hand Wash Powder – its new and improved formula is designed to dissolve quickly for effective cleaning!
  • Don’t get to work right away – let your garments soak in the tub for around 10 to 15 minutes before giving them a little massage to clean. This will allow the detergent enough time to penetrate deep down into the fibres, removing any dirt or stains from the fabric.
  • Don’t pull at, tug at, or wring out your clothes during the washing process as these actions are too severe for delicate fabrics and could cause some embellishments to become loose. Instead, use your hands to gently knead and swirl the clothing around the tub.
  • Don’t dry your hand washed clothing in a tumble dryer. If an item is too delicate for the washing machine, it’s too delicate for the dryer (to be extra sure, check the care label on your clothing for the tumble dry symbol with a cross through it). Instead, dry naturally on the line, or for wool, lay flat on thick towels to prevent the material from stretching out of shape.

Knowing the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of how to hand wash clothes is essential if you want to keep your delicates in great shape! These top hand washing clothes tips are an excellent way to get you started, but if you’re looking for further information, our washing guide has even more handy advice from Persil.

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