How to Handwash Delicate Clothes in Your Sink
March 30, 2023

How to Handwash Delicate Clothes in Your Sink

Most pieces of clothing are designed to be machine washable. But whether you have an extensive business wardrobe or just a few delicate garments, we all have at least one piece of clothing that says "Hand wash only" on the tag. This instruction used to be a lot more common, but many people today have never actually handwashed a garment.

One of the greatest benefits of owning a farmhouse sink is the ability to wash absolutely anything. You can rinse a turkey, bathe a baby, or you can prepare your deep basins to properly handwash all of your delicates at once. Now it’s time to figure out how you're supposed to handwash that nice blouse or stained silk tie that you just don't want to risk casually tossing in the wash.


Read the Label

Before you begin, read the label on the delicate clothes you plan to wash. Your delicates may indicate warm or cool water, or a certain type of detergent to choose or avoid. But if it just says "Handwash" our process is assured to help you refresh your garment without doing damage to the fabric, weave, size, or dyes that make it special.


Step 1: Fill the Sink with Cool Water & a Little Detergent

Get started by filling your farmhouse sink in preparation to wash. Fill your sink halfway with cool water - not freezing cold, but not quite warm, either. The ideal temperature will feel cool to your hands, just below room temperature but not cold enough that your hands feel frigid when submerged. This will keep your hands comfortable, but will keep your garment safe in case the fabric or dyes might react negatively to washing with heat.

If you are washing a sweater or a garment that has some smell to it, add a half-cup of white vinegar to your sink basin.

If you have two sink basins, fill the second one with clean cool water now to help you save time.


Step 2: Pre-Treat Your Stains Based on the Stain

Before you dunk your delicates, pre-treat any stains you may be worried about. This is where research is really useful, as the right treatment depends on both the type of stain and the fabric you're working with.

  • Protein & Enzyme Stains
    • Dropper of laundry detergent & soft bristle brush
  • Sweat Stains
    • White vinegar
  • Grease Stains
    • Diluted dish soap

If possible, blot any excess of the stain without spreading it. Then gently agitate the stain treatment into the stain and let it soak in. Use a soft bristled brush or soft cloth to agitate.


Step 3: Submerge and Soak

With any stains treated, fully submerge your delicates into the lightly soapy cool water in your sink basin. With a large basined farmhouse sink, you can submerge all or most of your delicates at once.

Swirl the delicates into the water so they become fully soaked and submerged and let them sit for three to five minutes. This will allow your delicates to become saturated with the diluted soap and water.


Step 4: Gently Agitate

Here's where the washing happens. Use your hands to gently agitate your clothing in the soapy water. Form your hands into open-fingered cups and swirl the clothes back and forth. Allow the clothes to create a small amount of friction against the water and each other to create the washing action. Move fast enough to swirl the water with some force, but not so fast that you splash or pull on the clothes. Agitate for three to five minutes.

For heavier delicates like sweaters, you can be a little more forceful, while light delicates like filmy silk and hosiery should be treated with the most gentle care.


Step 5: Remove and Press

Pull the garments out of the soapy water and let the basin drain so you have an available drain. Do Not Wring the soapy water out of your delicates. Instead, press the delicates to remove the most soapy water. You can press the garments against each other or press the garments into the side of your empty sink, which will not damage them while compressing out the soap and water.


Step 6: Rinse in Cool Water

After pressing, submerge your delicates into a sink full of clean, cool water. If you have two basins and filled both, you can transition directly to the cool water. Otherwise, fill your single basin farmhouse sink halfway with cool water.

Submerge your washed clothes in the cool rinse water and replicate the washing action. Gently press the clothes and let them expand in the water a few times to complete the rinsing action. If you feel there is still soap in your garments, empty the sink and refill it for another rinse.


Step 7: Press and Lay Out to Dry

When you're ready to dry your handwash delicates, press again. Do not wring. Start the motion to wring but instead, just press the delicates firmly until you get as much water out as possible without deforming the garments. Remember your goal is to complete the wash without stretching or pulling on the garments at all.

Once you've pressed out as much water as you can, carefully, lay your garments out to dry. The best option is an open-air mesh, but the second best is a fluffy dry towel. Let your garments air dry on a towel. Turn them and use a freshly dry towel if the towel becomes soaked.


Step 8: Hang or Iron When Lightly Damp

When your delicates are mostly dry, it's time to make sure they come out in the ideal shape. For things that are ironed, iron them while lightly damp for the best results. For draped items, hang them while slightly damp so that they dry with the ideal shape and form.


Handwashing Clothes is Easiest with a Farmhouse Sink

Whether you have one or two favorite delicate items or an entire business wardrobe of delicates that need regular hand-washing, the entire process is easiest with a two-basin farmhouse sink. A farmhouse sink is deep enough for washing and two basins creates the perfect setup to quickly transition from washing to rinsing. Plus, the signature front apron design provides optimal comfort to lean against while standing at your sink.

You can find a beautiful selection of farmhouse sinks with Fossil Blu if you're ready to design the perfect kitchen or laundry room for handwashing just about anything, including your delicate and formal garments.