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How to Hand Wash Delicates

When it comes to fine knits or lacy, sheer, or shrinkable clothing, you have two choices: cough up the cash for the dry cleaner or take a few extra minutes to give your delicates the TLC they deserve.


  • Step 1: Check label Check the "proper care" label of the garment for any specific instructions.
  • TIP: It's a good idea to hand-wash knit items that have buttons, sequins, beading or other adornments, as they can be easily damaged in a washing machine.
  • Step 2: Fill sink Fill the sink or basin with cool water.
  • Step 3: Add just enough detergent. Add just enough detergent to cover the surface of the water.
  • Step 4: Dissolve detergent Swirl the water with your hand to make sure the detergent is fully dissolved.
  • TIP: To make sure that fine knits retain their shape, pay attention what the article looks like now, dry, so that once it's wet you'll be able to reshape it correctly.
  • Step 5: Immerse article Immerse the article in the water.
  • Step 6: Work in the suds Gently swirl and squeeze the clothing, working the suds through. Don't pull, stretch, or wring the fabric.
  • Step 7: Soak garment Allow the garment to soak for 2 to 5 minutes.
  • Step 8: Squeeze water out Gently squeeze the excess water out of the garment--but don't wring or twist it. Drain the sink or basin.
  • Step 9: Rinse item Refill the sink or basin with fresh water, and swirl the item around to rinse.
  • TIP: When washing silk, add a quarter cup of white vinegar to the first rinse to help remove the soap residue.
  • Step 10: Keep rinsing Continue draining the soapy water, refilling it with fresh water, and swirling the item until there are no more suds in the water.
  • Step 11: Transfer to towel After your final rinse, lift the garment, gently squeeze out the excess water, and transfer it to a flat towel.
  • Step 12: Roll up towel Roll the towel up with the article inside, pressing on it gently to soak up more water.
  • TIP: If the garment soaks through the towel quickly, repeat the process on a second dry towel.
  • Step 13: Hang or reshape Hang up the item if it won't stretch, or, in the case of knits that need to be reshaped, place it on a dry towel and arrange it to its original shape.
  • FACT: The Federal Trade Commission instituted the use of "proper care" tags on all U.S. clothing in 1972.

You Will Need

  • A sink or basin
  • Some cool water
  • A mild
  • delicate-wash detergent
  • At least 1 clean
  • light-colored towel
  • And a place to dry the garment
  • And some white vinegar (optional) (optional) (optional)

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