A How To Hand Wash Guide

Here is an easy to follow, how-to, step by step 

Instruction Guide For Hand Washing of Delicate Embellished Garments.

Some dry cleaning services will not attempt to clean embellished garments, and you may prefer to limit your exposure to the harsh toxic chemicals used in the process, and of course it is beneficial from an economical and environmental perspective to be able to clean your garments at home, yourself.

Most delicate, vintage, and embellished items are safe to wash by hand using the correct method. Though it is always recommended that you read the labels for instructions on manufactured goods, there are many opportunities to use my hand wash method more often than you would expect.

Use cold, or warm water, never hot.

Fill a large sink basin or bathtub with enough water to have the flat or carefully folded garment completely immersed in at least an inch or two of water to allow for gentle agitation and movement.
The photo below shows the correct amount of detergent to use. You do not need a lot of suds, add your liquid detergent sparingly until your water soap ratio looks similar to this.


Hand Washing Delicate Garments (soap and water)

Products such as Woolite, Zero, or others that have reference to 'delicate' or 'cold water' on their label are best.

Some Vintage garment experts recommend original formula Dove dish washing liquid as well.

Step 1: Immerse the garment in the water flat or neatly folded to avoid wrinkling as much as possible.


Insturction Guide for Hand Washing Delicate Embellished Garments


Do not leave to soak before you begin the process of gentle agitation.

Work on soiled spots or areas first.

Step 2: Here in the next photo below I am gently doing a shaking agitation with my fingers, I am not twisting, wringing or distorting the material, more like creating a flowing movement to force the soap suds to pass through my garment.

gentle hand washing of embellished garment

The dress I have chosen to show here had a hand beaded design with sequins, if this is the case for your garment you are washing you can keep these embellishments safe from getting jostled by turning the garment inside out.

Some costume dresses with other hanging decorations are also easier to keep the details organized by turning them to the inside.

If you are finding your soap suds are vanishing very quickly then go ahead and add a little more, be careful you don't pour the soap product directly on to the garment, push it gently to one side and mix in a little more liquid to the open water space.

So the length of time you need to do the agitation process will depend on how much the garment needs cleaning. I tend to put a favorite song on the stereo to make sure I do not walk away too early, good to go for at least 3 minutes, but after 5 or 6 minutes the garment is likely clean and fresh.

To continue further only creates opportunity for the dye in the material to weaken.

Rinsing hand washed garment

There will usually be some dye coming into your water color, this is normal so don't panic when you see it, if you think that excessive amounts of color is bleeding out into the water you can take a tablespoon amount of salt and add that to your water (in the same manner mentioned above for adding more soap, do not put the salt directly on the garment, push it to one side and blend it into the open water space). Salt will help settle dye and prevent excessive color bleeding.

Step 3: After you are satisfied with your wash process drain your basin and start cold water rinsing. You can fill your basin again with a few inches of water and immerse again or you can move the item around in shower method until you see the water running clean, no more suds being created or going down the drain.

Rinsing a delicate hand washed garment


Step 4: So now you have a soggy wet garment and need to get it to dry and dry evenly to avoid water spots. There are two options here:

You may your washing machine's delicate setting on the spin cycle if you are sure it is extremely gentle, pressing may be necessary after using this method.

If you find that your garment is looking wet / dry spotted (or the bottom edge is remaining wet in proportion for a length of time in proportion to the rest) a hair dryer can help with that, speed up on the finishing up of this final stage.

You can place the wet garment on a rack, for about 10 minutes allowing most of the excess water to drip out evenly with gravity. Do not squeeze or wring out the excess water, as that may distort the material, or cause wrinkles we have worked so carefully to avoid. This is the method I have selected here in my photo below.


Allowing wet garment to drain before air drying


Step 5: Here I have laid out a thick absorbent towel flat and gently put my garment on top of it.I then roll up the towel and blot press with my hands so the excess water is absorbed evenly into that towel.


Remove excess moisture with towels


You may wish to do this stage twice with two towels to remove as much moisture as possible, that depends on how absorbent the material type is.

The object of this stage is to have the garment close to it's original weight density so that you can hang back on a hanger to complete drying evenly the dampness that remains.

If you have removed as much moisture as you think is possible, you can hang your cleaned garment outside (making sure it is securely on the hanger) to catch a breeze and some sunshine and that will help it to dry faster and more evenly,
You may use a fan on low to medium setting if you are drying your garment indoors.

If you find that your garment is looking wet / dry spotted (or the bottom edge is remaining wet in proportion for a length of time in proportion to the rest) a hair dryer can help with that, speed up on the finishing up of this final stage.