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How to Wash Your Clothes by Hand

Sometimes, you may not trust your machine to remove that silly stain from your new dress or suit. Cleaning these items is still an option. Hand-washing is simplicity itself. Just follow these steps:

  1. Dissolve 2 teaspoons of soap flakes or powder in 10 litres (2–1/2 gallons) of hot water or 45 millilitres (ml) (3–1/2 tablespoons) of hand-washing detergent into the same amount of warm water.

    Wait until the water drops to the temperature shown on your item’s care label. If you’re unsure, go with tepid.

  2. Immerse the fabric in the soapy water.

  3. Wash clothes by gently squeezing the suds through them.

    Don’t rub or wring.

  4. Rinse in warm or cool water.

  5. Rinse again, adding 10 millilitres (ml) (2 teaspoons) of fabric conditioner to the water.

    Agitate clothes with care and remove after three minutes.

  6. Take out the excess water.

    How you do this depends on what you’re washing. If there’s no danger of stretching, then hand wring tightly and tumble or line-dry according to care label. But you cannot wring woollens or net and voile materials. Place non-wringable items between two dry towels to blot off the excess water. Smaller items can be rolled up inside one towel.

    Always dry woollens flat on a drying rack. Never hang them out on the line. Net curtains can be folded vertically then line-dried until just damp, at which point take them in and hang them again.

Hand-washing isn’t a license to do as you please. Choosing to wash by hand is a way of limiting the rough-and-tumble that clothes get put through when they’re wrung and spun through a washing-machine. So don’t undo this good work by forgetting to give hand-wash clothes the lower temperature they also need.

Especially if you wear rubber gloves, you may happily withstand a water temperature of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), but your delicate items may not! So use a thermometer – a drop-in children’s bath temperature measure is ideal – to keep the temperature within the maximum on the care label.

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