The vast majority of households in Europe rely on a washing machine for everyday laundry. So dependent are these households on this ubiquitous appliance, being without it for just a day can become a traumatic experience.
But you don’t need to let dirty washing pile up the next time your washing machine gives up. If you know how to handwash delicates, you should be able to get by until your machine is up and running again.
1. Always check the label
Before your delicates get anywhere near a bucket of water, you should check the label for washing instructions. You’re looking for guidelines on how hot the water can be, and whether or not you can safely use detergent. The label will also tell you if the garment is dry clean only.
You won’t need a huge amount of detergent to handwash your clothes, and dishwashing detergent might suffice if you run short. Just make sure you wash brightly coloured clothes separately — just in case the colours run.
2. Wash, but don’t scrub
Fill your kitchen sink or a clean bucket with water, and add around a teaspoon of detergent. Gently place your clothes into the water, and gently swirl them in the water using your hands.
You might have seen people scrubbing clothes, but this is something you should avoid. And quite frankly, it’s not necessary. Twisting or scrubbing fibres could permanently damage your clothes. Feel free to unfold your clothes to check for stains, and repeat the swirling process until you’re happy.
When you’re happy that the worst of the dirt and stains have been removed (don’t expect the same results you’d get in your washing machine), it’s time to start rinsing. Fill a fresh container with water of the same temperature, and slowly dunk your clothes into it. Wait a couple of seconds, and lift the garment back out of the water. Repeat this process until you’re happy that the suds have been completely rinsed away.
4. Remove excess water
This stage involves preparing your newly washed clothes for the drying process. Gently squeeze the excess water out of each garment — one at a time. Never twist delicates, and certainly never wring them out, otherwise you could cause permanent damage to the fibres.
Take a lint-free towel, and gently blot the garment to remove more of the excess water. Holding the towel against the fabric and applying a little pressure with your hands should absorb a lot of moisture. Perform this process away from other garments in case the dyes start to run.
5. Dry with care
Try to restore every garment to its original shape before starting the drying process; this might take a little longer if you’re cleaning clothes that contain padding and moulding.
When it comes to hand-drying garments, you have several options. The easiest is to lay out the clothes on clean towels; however, this takes up an awful lot of room. If you opt for this method, you’ll need to turn each garment every so often in order to ensure it dries evenly.
Perhaps a more effective method of drying involves draping each garment over a drying rack. If you don’t have one, use worktops, chairs, shower rails and anything that can do the job. Of course, if you have a washing line, and the weather is fine, this is probably the quickest method — and it won’t increase the humidity levels in your home.
The next time your washing machine dies, don’t panic. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be able to manage until your machine is fixed.