A man adjusting the settings dial on a washing machine.

Hand Washing with Your Washing Machine:

How to Make the Most of This Setting

With many Indian homes now having washing machines, cleaning clothes is becoming quicker and easier than ever before. Machines with a dedicated hand washing option are making manual soaking, soaping, and drying a thing of the past; these machines are designed to handle even the most fragile of garments, including silks!

Many washing machines now have this option. So if you’re on the lookout for a new appliance for the home, it is well worth considering a fully automatic washing machine that can get your delicates clean while keeping the materials intact.

What Fabrics Need Special Care, and Why?

 The easiest way to tell which fabrics need a delicate cycle is to look at the wash care symbols on the garment’s labels. While items like towels, face cloths, and socks are usually fine to go in on hot or warm washes, delicates often need a cooler wash and a slower spin.

This reduces the likelihood of shrinking, which is common with woolens, and prevents ripping or tearing of the garment by using a less vigorous spin cycle. As a general rule, any items that are made from soft cottons, fragile linen, or silk – as well as any items that are embroidered or which are old family heirlooms  – should not be put through the washing machine on a regular cycle. Instead, always use the hand wash option for optimal results, and then allow to air dry naturally.

A Guide to Washing Delicates in the Washing Machine

You’ll probably already know how to wash clothes by hand, but do you know how to get your washing machine to do the hard work for you? It’s so easy. Simply choose the hand wash setting on your machine and follow these helpful tips depending on the type of material or garment you’re washing.

Soft Cotton

Organic cottons and shiny cottons are more vulnerable due to their delicate fibers. It’s a good idea to wash soft cottons together without other materials, and to only part-load the machine to reduce the risk of many different items becoming tangled together. Be sure to adjust your machine so it’s set for a half load – this uses less water so you can be sure you’re not wasting any.

Delicate Linen

Linens made from long line fibers are more delicate than those made from shorter line fibers, and should be treated with extra care when washing. It’s best to use a warm wash followed by a cold rinse, and it’s important to use a mild detergent that doesn’t contain any bleaching agents. Surf Excel Gentle Wash is especially designed for use with these soft materials.

Embroidered Kurtas

Hand embroidery is at risk of unravelling from the garment material in the washing machine, so it requires a very gentle wash. Before washing, wet a white cloth and gently dab the embroidered areas to ensure the color of the embroidery isn’t going to run in the machine – if you see any colour on the cloth, don’t put it in the machine. The standard hand wash option should ensure the machine doesn’t spin as normal, but instead tosses the clothes to protect the fabrics.

Silk Sarees

India is one of the top producers of pure silk garments, which can be both beautiful and costly, so it’s important to look after them. It’s best to use a cold water setting with a gentle detergent without bleach. Some women find that adding a touch of white vinegar to a silk wash helps to get rid of any detergent residue, and keeps sarees looking their best.

Of course, these are only a selection of materials that require a little extra care when going in the washing machine, so it’s wise to always check the instructions.

For example, although you may not think twice about throwing ‘everyday’ clothes into a normal wash, many items from high street stores are labelled as ‘hand wash only’, so take care.

Delicate fabrics are best washed with a hand wash setting

General Considerations for Washing Delicates in the Washing Machine

Your washing machine’s hand wash setting will often be all you need to wash your delicates safely and thoroughly, but be sure to take the following considerations into account before washing anything fragile or irreplaceable:

  • Always use a mild or gentle detergent that doesn’t contain bleach and isn’t full of chemicals. You want a soap that is as natural as possible to protect your materials and fibers.
  • Stay away from hot washes. Not only are they generally not needed, they can also cause your materials to shrink. A warm wash should be all you need, but if possible, try to use cold washes for your delicates. It’s better for your clothes, for the environment, and for your energy bill.
  • Never put delicates into a ‘full’ wash. If your hand wash option doesn’t select a cycle for you, choose a short cycle with a slow spin.
  • Don’t be tempted to use your washing machine’s built-in dryer. Always air dry hand washed items. It’s easy to do this in the warm summer months, but be careful not to leave silk in direct sunlight. Instead, choose somewhere warm but shaded.