No Delicate Cycle on Your Washing Machine? What to Use Instead

The delicate cycle has low agitation, minimal spin, and the water used is usually lukewarm or cold, so it’s perfect for cleaning delicate items like those made from lace, silk and wool.

The trouble is, not all washing machines come with a ‘delicate’ cycle, so how are you supposed to wash your delicate pieces in this kind of washer?

After all, you don’t want to choose a ‘normal’ wash setting because you know you’ll end up shrinking or damaging your items in some way!

Is there an alternative setting or cleaning method you can use? There are actually several backup options you can make use of! Keep on reading to find out more.

If your washing machine doesn’t have a ‘delicate’ setting, you might be a little concerned about cleaning your delicate items in the appliance!

But don’t worry, even if you don’t have a dedicated ‘delicate’ cycle, you can still use the washing machine. You’ll just have to choose a different cycle or adjust the machine manually. 

Note: You try the methods below at your own risk.


Option 1: Choose the ‘Gentle’, ‘Hand Wash’ or ‘Wool’ Setting Instead

Gentle care cycle

If there isn’t a cycle labelled ‘delicate’ on your washing machine, don’t panic because there’s bound to be a similar cycle that you can use instead. The cycles will have different names, and they won’t be exactly the same as a ‘delicate’ cycle, but they are options you can look into.

Similar cycles that you could consider using include ‘gentle’, ‘hand wash’ and ‘wool’ as these are tailored towards more fragile fabrics. These cycles are relatively short, don’t use much agitation, use very little spin and use a cooler water temperature.

Of course, keep in mind that each make and model of washing varies when it comes to the cycles mentioned above, so do expect some variation between each of them. For example, some cycles may use slightly more agitation or a hotter water temperature than others.

You should, therefore, check your user manual to make sure the figures relating to water temperature and spin speed are appropriate for the garment you want to clean before selecting a cycle. You don’t want to shrink your favourite silk blouse by accident!

When you’re ready to load your laundry into the machine, remember to pop your items into a mesh laundry bag (so the bits and bobs don’t go flying around the drum), and add a specialised detergent that is suitable for your delicate pieces of laundry.


Option 2: Pick a Short, Cold Cycle with the Lowest Spin Possible

spin speed dial

It’s also possible to manually choose/alter an existing cycle on some washing machines.

If this is possible on your appliance, choose the gentlest, shortest and coolest cycle possible, and double-check that the cycle has minimal agitation and spin!

Don’t forget to add a suitable delicate detergent to the washer.


Option 3: Skip the Washing Machine and Hand-Wash Your Items Instead

Hand washing clothes

As a backup option, you can always hand-wash your delicate pieces! And in a lot of cases, it is better if you do this because you can make sure that the delicate clothes are washed in a delicate manner.

In short, by hand-washing your delicates, you’ll know for definite that your fragile items are not being subjected to the harsh agitation and spin of the washer because you’re in control of the washing process.

Plus, by hand-washing each piece, you can spend time tending to every item and treating each blemish properly, so you actually clean your clothes more effectively.

More than anything, by washing your clothes by hand, you’ll know for definite that you haven’t chosen the wrong washing cycle that could potentially ruin your clothes.

Hand-washing isn’t exactly the most straightforward task in the world. But with the right tools and guidance in place, the job can be a doddle. (I dare say, fun, even!).

See our step-by-step guide to cleaning clothes by hand if you don’t know where to start!


Option 4: Take Your Items to a Dry Cleaners

If you don’t fancy trying the above options, you could always take your delicate garments to a professional cleaner and ask them for help.

In most cases, they’ll be able to help you or at least advise you on how best to treat or clean your items. But don’t count on them being able to ‘dry clean’ your delicates for you because this washing procedure is an entirely different cleaning process that may not be suitable for your items.

A quick online search will bring up professional cleaners in your area! Just choose a reputable company and pop down to speak to them.

What to use if there's no delicates cycle on your washing machine



Tips to Consider When Cleaning Delicates

Here are a handful of tips to keep in mind when cleaning delicate items: 

  • Check the care label on your delicate item(s) and adhere to the instructions on the tag.
  • Pop delicate laundry into mesh laundry bags and wash them. By putting your item(s) inside the bag, you can stop them from being flung around inside the washer’s drum during the cleaning cycle. This, in turn, prevents the item(s) from getting tangled up or damaged.
  • Use a pillowcase instead of a laundry bag to keep your delicates safe in the washing machine.
  • Choose a delicate detergent to clean your laundry with. By using a suitable detergent, you can stop your garments from being ruined by chemical-heavy cleaners.
  • Pre-treat stains before washing delicate items in a washing machine or by hand.
  • Allow delicate items to dry naturally after they’ve been washed.
  • Always wear gloves when hand washing clothes and remove jewellery before carrying out the task.

Tips to consider when cleaning delicates