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Home / Tips and Tricks / Here's how to wash your clothes by hand if you don't have a washing machine

Here's how to wash your clothes by hand if you don't have a washing machine



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Steve Conaway / CNET

Electric washing machines have been commercially available here in the United States for more than a century, since 1

907. So, if you are in the US and reading this article, chances are you have access to a washing machine. But did you know that most people in the world still wash their clothes by hand?

It is true. In fact, according to global health expert Hans Rosling, nearly 5 billion of the world's population of 7 billion (about 10 years ago) still wash their clothes by hand. And perhaps that is somewhat comforting in our time away from social distance where a trip to the local laundromat for people who don't have their own washing machine can be even more stressful than usual. . If at least 5 billion people already wash their clothes by hand, you can too!

Let's start by looking at two different approaches to the task, along with some quick notes on drying.

What do I need?

First of all, you need access to water, both cold and warm, and you need soap or detergent. A bar of laundry soap is best, but you can also use liquid detergent . Make sure to avoid washing powder as much as possible. The powder needs a higher temperature and more time and movement to dissolve completely.

You can definitely go with the Woolite-and-bathroom sink approach as you could do for delicate laundry, but the method I explain here is more efficient for washing a whole load, especially if that's going to be a new routine .

If you are really serious about washing clothes by hand, you need a washboard. If I intended to make hand-washed clothes a permanent part of my lifestyle, I might consider using a nicer washboard from the Ohio-based Columbus Washboard Company, which considers itself the last American washboard manufacturer . You can also find many options on Etsy. In the end, I went with a midlevel choice that you can get from Amazon for about $ 20 .

Oh, and of course you need a few sinks. Two separate tubs are best, but you can do it with a single container if that's all you have. I already had the two tubs (actually planters, which work as long as they are clean) at home. You can also buy fancy galvanized steel tubs for about $ 20 each or some plastic for $ 19 .

If you live in a small apartment or otherwise lack storage space, a small one-person cockpit with a built-in washboard may be the best option. I got this for $ 11 .

Do I really need two different tubs?

Either way, you wash the clothes in the soapy wash water and then rinse the clothes in separate rinse water before allowing them to dry. With washing water in one bath and rinsing water in another, the process is fairly efficient. Wash an item, move it to the sink, wash the second item, move it to the sink and so on.

If you only use one bathtub, first wash all your clothes and then find a place to put the soaked, soapy clothes aside while you dump the bath and fill it with clean water for the rinses.

Can I wash my clothes in the bathtub?

Using your bathtub will take longer and it is not a good choice if this will be your continuous washing method, but it will get the job done quickly. Just make sure that you clean and scrub the tub first, so as not to add more dirt than you take out.

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Steve Conaway / CNET

OK, I'm ready. What is the best method for hand washing clothes?

Using the two-tub method, you have water suitable for the temperature in one tub and in the other, cold rinse water. The washboard should be placed in the washtub – most even have a convenient resting place for your soap bar.

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Applying a small amount of soap directly to the washboard can go a long way.


Steve Conaway / CNET

Start by dropping your clothes in the bathtub, looking for particularly stained or fragrant places. For these areas, you want to apply some bar soap directly to the fabric. I also like to soak the washboard edges in the tub and reapply as I go.

Take one item of clothing at a time and start running it up and down the washboard. Taking the garment in both hands and rubbing it against yourself is also effective for cleaning. How long and how hard you have to rub depends on how dirty each piece is. When washing clothes with things like buttons or printed logos on them, turn them inside out to avoid unnecessary damage.

When you are happy with your job, take any soapy garment and drop it into the sink. Repeat for each item in the washtub.

Should I soak my clothes?

The two main types of clothing that you want to soak are delicate laundry and very soiled items.

With fine fabrics you are not going to use the washboard at all and even skip rubbing. Instead, soak them in soapy water and swirl gently to shake them over time.

  how-to-hand-wash-clothes-13 "height =" 0 "width =" 370 "data-original =" https://cnet2.cbsistatic.com/img/6HRq1mv_jOH78OExglvFN_zKHOA=/370x0/2020/04 /27/d08aa866-7cd5-429b-b674-48b9979b1c7b/how-to-hand-wash-clothes-12.jpg%19659033//how-to-handwash-clothes-13 "height =" 0 "width =" 370 [19659023] You want to soak heavily soiled items before washing them by hand for better cleaning. </p>
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Steve Conaway / CNET

Always infuse items of the same color together and don't crowd out things: don't store it more than a few pieces at a time at a lukewarm or room temperature. Each batch lasts about 15 minutes, but never soak your delicacy for longer than 30 minutes as it is not uncommon to see colors running. That is also the reason why you have to replace this water in between.

For heavily soiled clothing, start by removing large loose debris by shaking or hitting the object. If you want, you can also pre-treat individual stains with the laundry soap or with a stain stick. From there, soak it in warm to hot water for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally with good stirring. After soaking, give these items the same washboard treatment as regular clothes.

I have wet, soapy clothes. What is the best way to rinse them?

Rinsing is quite easy. You have soapy items. Use the clean water to remove the soap. Swirl. Shake gently. Squeeze slightly under water. Repeat until the item drips clear, non-soapy water. With many detergents you can also go by fragrance. You may need to replace your rinse water if you cannot throw the soap away.

To end the process, you want to lose as much water as possible. Try to avoid squeezing or squeezing your medium and more delicate items too hard. There are also "non-rinse" detergents you can pick up that will help you skip this step altogether.

When all items have been rinsed out, you will need to change tubs if you have a different load. Your sink, still with a bit of soapy water, now becomes your sink. Dump the water out of your sink and turn it into your sink by adding fresh, clean water.

What about clothes that I usually take to the dry cleaner?

In all cases, first read the washing labels on your clothing. They must specify water temperatures and treatment options. Items labeled "Dry Clean" can be safely hand washed, while "Dry Clean Only" items can be damaged by water.

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Steve Conaway / CNET

Tips for drying?

Drying your clothes without a machine is usually a matter of time, and it is best to find a good place to hang everything. If you have a garden, you can use a clothesline and use clothespins. I bought a good clothesline for travel for $ 10 on Amazon . It has 12 clips and thanks to the bungee cord and hooks it can be adapted to almost any room.

And yes, your shower rod also works in no time. Don't forget to use padded hangers if possible. Wire hangers in wet clothes often lead to hanger-shaped notches.

You can also dry your clothes, but remember that the goal is to get water away from the clothes. If they are in the water they are trying to shed, it slows down, so consider putting towels underneath to get the moisture out.

So there you have it: your guide to start washing clothes. Don't get too discouraged if it takes you half a day for your first load – like most things, washing hands becomes faster and easier with experience.

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