When people talk about how to do laundry, the conversation can get more complex when talking about well-loved items or garments constructed with more delicate fabrics.
One of the best ways to understand if an item should be treated as delicate is to start by checking the care label. The delicate symbol on the care label is a washing tub with two horizontal lines underneath.
Some fabrics, like silk, wool, nylon, lace, etc. should always be treated as delicate. You may also want to treat anything that shrinks easily as delicate to ensure they get the extra attention necessary.
If the care label indicates that an item is delicate, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to wash your item by hand. In addition to hand washing your delicate garment, you may also be able to use the gentle or delicate setting on your machine washer.
Handwashing is the gentlest option for your delicate laundry. To clean delicates by hand, you’ll need a clean container like a tub, bucket, or sink and a mild liquid laundry detergent like all® free clear liquid laundry detergent. Using lukewarm water, add your detergent and let the delicate laundry soak for five minutes. Carefully rub the stains with soapy water. Rinse the clothes with cold, clear water until no detergent residue remains.
If you choose to wash your delicate laundry in a washing machine, you’ll want to go back to your care label to get a little more direction. In the washtub shown on the label, check for a maximum temperature setting. Delicates can be washed in cold or sometimes warm water, but never hot.
Many washing machines have their own program for delicates that minimizes the intensity of the spin cycle and typically uses more water to wash the clothes more carefully. For more protection, you can watch delicate garments in a mesh laundry bag. Similar to hand washing delicate laundry, when machine washing delicates, opt for a mild detergent.
Like machine washers, some dryers have special settings for delicate garments that uses less heat than other tumble dry settings. If your item has lots of intricate embellishments or is especially well-loved or worn, the best option is to air dry delicate items. To air dry your delicate laundry, be careful not to wring them. Instead, gently pull them into shape, smoothing them out and then hanging them up.