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Whether you have a washing machine for laundry day or not, learning how to wash laundry by hand is a beneficial skill. Handwashing clothes is better for the environment and much faster than you may think. It might even be recommended for you to wash some delicate fabrics by hand.
I first learned the steps I’m about to show you because quarantine during COVID-19 made it impossible and unsafe to continue going to the laundromat. Before the outbreak, I already preferred to hand wash my delicates at home. But the virus told us it was time to learn how to wash everything in our bathroom.
The struggle was real in the beginning. However, now I can’t imagine doing the laundry any other way.
In this article, I’ll show you exactly why I’m never going back to the laundromat again and why you shouldn’t either. Learning how to hand wash laundry is much easier than it seems. Read on for the steps I found work the best.
Reasons for Handwashing Clothes
Washing your clothes by hand requires extra effort, but handwashing laundry is well worth the work when it comes to gains for the environment. However, saving the planet is the only benefit.
Handwashing clothes boosts the lifespan, especially with activewear and delicate fabrics. Traditional washing machines with hand-wash or delicate settings might not be enough for some types of fabric.
When laundry day comes around, always check the care label before washing anything. Labels with “dry clean only” on the tag might handle handwashing but proceed with caution. Test a small area of the fabric in a hard-to-see area to see if it’s colorfast. Unique, special care clothing like lingerie, wool sweaters, silk, or baby clothes might have a dye that bleeds.
You might also need to learn how to wash laundry by hand if:
You can’t wait for laundry day for a trip to the laundromat
COVID-19 closed down your laundromat
You have a broken washing machine
No power & no lights
You’re traveling and need a quick clean
You want an eco-friendly laundry option
Cleaning some fabrics, like wool, delicates, activewear, or undies
How to do Laundry at Home
The following steps will take place in your bathroom, where I’ll show you how how to do laundry by hand in the bathtub.
That said, you’re not confined to the tub. Learning over the edge does make your back hurt after time. You can handwash clothing in a sink or a large plastic container. The bathtub was the best option for me, and the ceramic is less toxic than plastic.
Here’s what you need to collect:
Eco friendly laundry detergent (In my opinion, the best eco friendly laundry detergent is my liquid laundry detergent recipe.)
Broom (or a long stick/handle)
Soft bristled scrub brush
Indoor clothes drying rack (wooden, wall mounted, or use an indoor clothesline)
Outdoor family clothesline (optional)
Rubber gloves (optional)
Start by filling your tub with water. Use the temperature right for your fabric. Unless the care label says otherwise, I use cool to lukewarm water for nearly everything. It’s more eco-friendly and cuts back on water costs.
Add in around a teaspoon of laundry detergent for a small load with only a few garments. If washing a normal laundry load (like you would in a washing machine), use the same amount of detergent as usual. Swish the water around a bit with your hands.
Submerge your clothing in the tub, allowing the soapy water to soak through. Gently move the garments around, moving them through the water. Swish them and rub the fabric together. Avoid wringing the clothes or twisting, which may stretch or damage the clothes. Mimick the movements you see washing machines produce. Try using a broom handle or long stick to move the clothes around when your arms get tired. A soft-bristled scrub brush is also handy for scrubbing.
Drain the water from the tub, and rinse your clothing with cool water. Push the clothes down to remove the soap. Allow a stream of water to run over the clothes to help rinse. Refill the tub with water, then move the clothes around again to help pull soap from the fabric.
Drain the tub and rinse again. Repeating the process as necessary. If your garments feel hard, they might still have soap in the fibers. Rinse until you no longer see suds.
Drying Your Hand Washed Clothing
Finally, hand the clothes to air dry. I use a foldable indoor drying rack, which is particularly nice for my underthings. But an outdoor clothesline might work better if you have that option. Many people swear by wall-mounted options to conserve space as well.
If your clothes are thick, lay them on a towel to help them dry faster. Place a bath towel on a flat surface and roll your newly clean garment into the towel. Press the roll gently to absorb more water. Never wring clothing or use a twisting motion.
Air-drying clothing is much more eco friendly than using a dryer, and the heat may damage delicates and activewear anyway. It saves tons of energy too. Clothes driers are the second highest energy consumer when it comes to household appliances next to your fridge. Switching to an air-dry method could reduce your family’s carbon footprint by around 2,400 lbs per year.
Don’t worry, it’s safe too. Hanging your clothes to dry in the sun’s UV rays helps disinfect and de-wrinkle damp clothing. Plus, air-drying is much easier on your fabric than dryers.
Do you use a different technique to hand wash laundry? Are you planning to use my instructions to do laundry at home for the first time? What’s your main motivation for learning to hand wash laundry in the tub? Share your experiences in the comments below.