Using the Hand Wash Cycle on the Washing Machine

In India, there are several washing machines with hand wash cycle options.

Having a washing machine with hand wash cycle or wool cycle options, like this Bosch front loader, can make your life a lot easier. Rather than bending over a bucket to work at your most delicate garments, you can learn that a hand wash in washing machines is actually possible. Even garments that are ‘hand wash only’ can be handled this way, as long as you give them the proper care and attention and choose the correct setting on your machine!  

When to Hand Wash in Machine Settings

Get to know your hand wash cycles. Washing machine functions have greatly advanced in recent years, and while some washing machines have a hand wash setting, other machines have both a ‘Delicate’ cycle and a ‘Hand Wash’ cycle.  What’s the difference between them?

The ‘Delicate’ setting is a short, cold wash, followed by slow tumbling and spinning. It should be used for lingerie, sweaters, pure new wool or wool-mixture clothes, and other machine-washable garments that need to be handled gently. The garment tags on these items should be marked as ‘washable’, ‘pre-shrunk’, ‘non-matting’, or in general safe for the ‘Delicate’ cycle.  If for any reason you are unsure, use the ‘Hand Wash’ setting instead.

The ‘Hand Wash’ setting is for clothes that are labeled ‘Hand Wash.’ Silk, soft cottons, delicate linens, and all other types of wool should be washed on this setting, including cashmere or angora. Your most delicate garments – such as those with sequins, embroidery, or prominent buttons – are other items requiring you to use your hand wash washing machine setting. Designed to imitate how clothes are washed in the sink, this setting has periods of gentle tumbling alternated with soaking in cold water.

Other machines, like Godrej's U Sonic, offer different program levels for different materials, boasting a Gentle setting, a Sari setting, and a Wool setting.  

The Art of the Washing Machine Hand Wash

Now that you know when it’s appropriate to use, you can follow our instructions on how to make the most of the hand wash setting for great results. In general, cold wash temperatures are the best for your most delicate clothes, although a warm setting can be acceptable if the garment tags indicate this. If you have a semi-automatic washing machine, you have more control over the entire process. After washing your garments, you can choose to spin them only for a short time — or, to be safer, not to spin them at all.

For the most delicate items, wring them out gently by hand (use a clean towel to help soak up excess water), and then pin them up to air dry.  It’s important never to use your machine to tumble dry your hand-washed clothes, as this can cause permanent damage or shrinking. Here are some other basic tips for using your washing machine to hand wash:

  • Don’t mix together items made from different fabrics in the same hand wash load; wool, for example, could damage your delicate silks and sarees. Instead, wash your wool items together, then your silks separately, and then your soft cottons and linens.
  • Only fill your washing machine halfway with hand wash garments – this way your delicate garments are less likely to become tangled. If your machine has a ‘Half Load’ option, you can use it to save on water and energy bills. Or, if you have a semi-automatic machine, use only enough water needed for your half-load.
  • Wash the most delicate items in a laundry or mesh bag. This will prevent items with delicate buttons, sequins, or embroidery from snagging on the other garments.
  • Use a gentle detergent like Surf excel Matic. Normal laundry detergents can damage your most delicate fabrics and leave your clothes dry.

Bear in mind that the ‘Hand Wash’ setting on your washing machine will never be as gentle as an actual hand wash. However, it can save you plenty of time and effort – and we know how valuable that can be!

Do you feel comfortable using your washing machine to hand wash now? Do you have any tips on hand washing you’d like to share? Use the comment box below to join the conversation!