Many people are put off by the “hand wash only” label on clothing. Hand washing can be impractical—you aren’t sure if your clothes are completely clean and you end up with dripping wet clothes, which have to be dried somewhere that can catch the water.
But don’t let this put you off buying hand wash-only items, because many washing machines come with hand wash settings.
The hand wash setting is a dedicated cycle for washing garments that have the hand wash only symbol on the care label.
Read on to find out more about how and when to use the hand wash setting, and whether it really is safe.
When to Use the Hand Wash Setting on Your Washing Machine
When you see the hand wash only symbol on the care label of an item of clothing, you can wash them using the hand wash cycle on your washing machine.
Items that are typically hand wash only include wool, silk, cashmere and anything with delicate embellishments such as sequins, beads, lace, embroidery or fringe.
It’s also a good idea to check the care label on clothes that include these materials in a lower percentage.
Some garments contain a small percentage of wool or cashmere, and while they may indicate that they can be safely machine washed, it is a good idea to use the hand wash setting where possible as this extends the lifespan of the clothes.
Finally, some older, vintage pieces may also benefit from hand washing. Even if the item doesn’t have a hand wash label, antique pieces become more delicate as they age so a delicate, or hand wash cycle, is a safe option.
Is the Hand Wash Setting Safe?
The hand wash cycle is safe as it has been designed for this purpose. That said, machine washing, even on a hand wash cycle, is not risk-free. Clothing could potentially snag on parts of the machine or the agitation could be too harsh for some materials
Generally, it is safe to wash clothes on a hand wash cycle. However, if your item is a family heirloom and means a lot to you, proceed with caution!
How Do You Use the Hand Wash Setting in the Washing Machine?
Using the hand wash cycle is pretty straightforward, but you should think about putting any items with embellishments in a mesh bag to be on the safe side. It’s also best to buy delicate or hand wash detergent so as not to ruin these items.
Finally, if your machine has a separate temperature setting, make sure to set it to 30 degrees.
What Can You Do if Your Machine Doesn’t Have a Hand Wash Setting?
Instead of a hand wash setting, some machines may have a delicate setting, however, these cycles are not the same. It’s not recommended to use the delicate cycle for hand wash only items.
In this case, you will need to actually hand wash the items, or take them to a professional cleaner if you don’t want to hand wash them yourself.
What’s the Difference Between the Delicate Cycle and the Hand Wash Setting?
While similar, the delicate cycle is not exactly the same as the hand wash setting. The delicate wash agitates more than a hand wash cycle.
Both spin and agitation speed are similar in these cycles, but the hand wash cycle will intermittently agitate and pause, whereas the delicate cycle doesn’t, meaning it agitates for longer overall.
What Temperature Is a Hand Wash Cycle and How Long Does It Last?
A hand wash cycle should be 30 degrees Celsius. This is the optimal temperature to get clothes clean but not damage delicate materials by exposing them to hot water.
These cycles don’t last as long as normal cycles as they have a lower spin speed so as not to damage the items you’re washing. They last around 60 to 90 minutes.
In The Wash is your guide to the best laundry and cleaning products, tips and tricks. Our mission is to solve the UK’s cleaning and laundry dilemmas!