Hand Wash Only

By on March 1, 2012

By Leslie Reichert, The Cleaning Coach –

We rely on modern technology and appliances so much that it is hard to imagine not using them, or the days when people had no other options but to do things by hand. Forget computers or cell phones, the true heroes of the home are the dishwasher, microwave, and especially the washing machine.

But what about those few times when modern appliances simply won’t do the trick, when you read those seemingly troublesome words “hand wash only?”

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Now this one simple phrase may have you thinking of the Bible days when women brought baskets full of soiled clothes to the stream or perhaps you might remember that washing board you saw in the antique mall, but hand washing does not need to be an ordeal or necessarily all that time consuming.

With a few simple tricks you can improve your experience while keeping things easy and green. First you should make sure your sink is clean, or designate a separate tub for hand-washing. The last thing you want is for your clothes to come out smelling like the remainder of the carrots you peeled into the disposal. Also you will want to stick with a cold or lukewarm temperature, never hot. Also, your colors rules still apply. Just like you wouldn’t combine reds and whites in the same batch in the washer, the colors may also bleed in the sink, so don’t mix.

Next you want to ad the soap to the water before you put in the clothing. This way the soap gets distributed equally through the garment. When hand-washing, I use soap flakes. There are no enzymes, bleaches, or perfumes and it is created from palm and coconut oil, making it all around natural and gentle, perfect not only for those delicate garments that can’t be trusted in the washing machine but for sensitive skin. If you want to go with something closer to a laundry detergent, there are some options that I have in my book The Joy of Green Cleaning.

If your clothes are unusually dirty you may want to leave them soaking overnight. You can treat any stains by using the tried and tested technique of rubbing soap into the stain with a small brush, even on both sides if the fabric has the strength to take it. This combined with the soaking should eliminate most problems you may have.

So to finish the process you want to dry the clothes in the gentlest manner possible. Since wringing will only disfigure the garment beyond all recognition, and hanging will stretch out the fabric, the best thing to do is to lay it flat on either a white towel or netted drying rack. For those sweaters that hold on to a lot of water, you can first role up the sweater in a towel, get rid of the extra water, and then lay it flat. In the end, you can wear that favorite cashmere sweater and have it look as good as the first day you bought it.


Leslie Reichert is known as a Green Cleaning Coach. She is an author and spokesperson for the green cleaning industry and is a teacher of green homekeeping. She is a national lecturer, a contributor to a The Daily Green, which is a Hearst publication, a frequent homekeeping expert on Martha Stewart Living Radio and author of the book: The Joy Of Green Cleaning- a handbook for DIY cleaners. The Joy Of Green Cleaning is a collection of 99 homemade recipes that have been tested and proven to work as well as “store-bought” cleaners. It is available at Amazon.com, Whole Foods Markets in the Northeast or online at http://www.backdoorvac.com/the-joy-of-green-cleaning.html.

About JL Leslie Reichert

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Hand Wash Only