How To Hand Wash Clothes in 8 Detailed Steps

Knowing how to hand wash clothes is a simple, but yet intricate skill, that not every helper may have. This is a follow-up explanation from our discussion of Laundry Hand Washing V.S. Laundry Machine Wash!

If you have understood that discussion, then it would mean that you have likely handpicked certain garments based on the recommended criteria, to be manually washed.

Therefore, a step-by-step process to hand wash clothes would need to ultimately depend on what type of clothing you have in your basket to be cleaned! Here, we teach you the basics of how to manually wash clothes, step by step!

Never throw your footwear into the washing machine!
Never throw your footwear into the washing machine!


Before diving into how to hand wash each specific clothes item, it is vital to know the intricacies of general clothes-handwashing. So, let’s get started on a step-by-step process on how to handwash laundry in general first. This will prepare you physically and mentally, to eventually become an expert at handwashing clothing. That said, do not forget to practice and get some hands-on action after this. Or, it would be great if you could print this out or get it easily readable on a standing iPad whilst getting to the chores in real-time!

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Get these ready before starting the hand washing of clothes:

  • Laundry Detergent
  • Plain Water


Know what equipment you require to know how to hand wash clothes. They are:

  • Laundry Waterproof Gloves (Best to get those that extend to elbows to protect your skin)
  • Container(s) or Bucket(s) – at least 2 and of suitable size to match your laundry load
  • Basket(s) – at least 2 and of suitable size to match your laundry load
  • Magnifying Glass – for those with difficulty reading the clothes labels
  • Thermometer to measure water temperature
  • Measuring Cup to measure and pour in detergent
  • Washing Board (optional)
  • Soft Scrubs (optional)
  • Wringing Assistive Devices (optional)
Remember to prepare your laundry supplies and equipment before hand washing clothes!
Remember to prepare your laundry supplies and equipment before hand washing clothes!


Separate clothing based on types, and then colors. Bunch them up, or put into different baskets. Common classes of clothing (to be hand washed) are: socks, undergarments, headgear, sweaters, coats, delicate shirts or skirts, pants and baby items. As an extra step, you should also separate based on material. Differentiate cashmere, wool, silk from other items like your straw hats. Do not mix wool socks with your silk lingerie, when hand washing clothes!


All clothes come with a tag or label that indicates the suitable washing techniques, drying methods and recommended water temperature. Items that can be machine washed, can of course be hand washed. On the flip side, some items indicate “hand wash only” so do not throw them into the washing machine. Yet other items may indicate “dry clean” or “dry clean only”. For the former, you can try to hand wash, but test a small portion first and use cool water with gentle techniques below-mentioned. For the latter, do NOT hand wash. These can only be sent for dry cleaning.


Select the water temperature based on the clothing label. Cool water is often the safest. Fill a clean container to a level adequate enough to fully submerge all the clothes to be washed. Then, add in your laundry detergent. In general, a teaspoon is sufficient volume. However, it would be best to double check the laundry detergent instructions which may vary based on brand and total load of laundry. As a very useful tip, you should prepare a separate tub of plain and clean water for rinsing later on. This is particularly helpful when you are hand washing more than 1 piece of clothing. Finally, slip on your protective laundry gloves and you are ready to roll! There are several other useful tools such as the washing board, soft scrubs and wringing assistive devices, but they are non-mandatory for you unless you have the budget and space for it.


Put the clothes into the solution and swirl them until the water and garments are equally soapy or sudsy. Be sure to be gentle and consistent in your movements. Avoid harsh actions like twisting, wringing or scrubbing for most items.

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Next, whilst the clothes are in the soapy water, pick up one item at a time. Gently dab or rub the item portion by portion. Target the dirtier spots like the underarm regions for shirts, and groin regions for underwear. A soft scrub or sponge may help, but bare gloved hands often does the trick. Re-submerge the item as required multiple times and repeat until it is clean.


This can be done as an extra step to get your clothes extra clean when hand washing them. Of special note, some items are too stiff or delicate to be rubbed or dabbed.  In such cases, MEIDE feels you can use this technique to help too! To start off, lift the entire item out of the soapy water. Ensure that the item is spread out and not wrinkled or crunched up. Achieve the largest surface area that is possible with your bucket of solution and the clothing size. Then, re-submerge it fully. During this re-submerging, you can crunch up or squeeze up the item into the water with slight force. Repeat this dousing action plenty of times, changing the orientation of the item each time. Ensure all sides are covered. This technique will help kick off dirt from your soiled linen.


It would be convenient if you already have a clean tub of water to put the washed-but-still-soapy item in, at this step. Otherwise, you would have to find a space to place this item, which might still be dripping wet. (Pro tip: hang it over the toilet bowl or shower area) Next, go back to step five and six for your remaining items. Remember your differentiation of classes of clothes, their different materials and colors? Well, be sure to change out the water and solution as per step three for each separate bunch of clothes. Furthermore, you should also repeat step three whenever your bucket of washing liquid gets a bit murky or cloudy.


When you are done with the soapy water and container, empty it out by pouring into the toilet bowl (it is much faster than the sink, and reduces risk of splashes around the vanity area). Rinse the container to get rid of residue and suds. Go to your rinsing solution of plain water. Use the technique as described in step six to rinse off all soap and suds from your “washed laundry”. As a summary, lift the garment up unfolded and spread open, and re-submerge it fully into the container of water repeatedly. You may need to discard the water after that, and repeat a few times until all the soap is gone.

You would be able to tell that you are done, when the container of water is no longer soapy upon rinsing the item(s). Alternatively, you could sniff the laundry to see if the detergent scent is still strong. A faint scent is usually just nice. However, if you really want to be sure (eg. adverse to soaps or have very sensitive or eczematous skin), keep rinsing until there is no scent.


A good foundation with regards to how to hand wash laundry is an essential skill to have! Whether you are a housewife, helper, cleaner or maid, remember that practice makes perfect. We hope this guide is useful and detailed enough to get you started on how to hand wash clothes!

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