What Clothes Are Considered “Delicate Clothes”?

Delicate clothes – we all have them tucked away in our wardrobes. They’re the ones we’re a bit afraid to toss into the washing machine without a second thought. 

But what exactly are delicate clothes, and why do they deserve special treatment? 

Delicate clothes refer to garments that are usually made from fabrics that require special care. Hence, not being attentive to their care needs or not washing them properly can easily cause them damage. 

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of delicate clothing, helping you understand what falls into this category, and most importantly, how to care for them properly.

What Are Categorised As “Delicate Clothes”?

Delicate clothes encompass a variety of garments that, for one reason or another, require extra attention in the laundry room. 

person checking clothes in laundry basket

These garments are typically made from the following fragile fabrics, such as:

  • Silk
  • Satin
  • Lace
  • Wool
  • Cashmere
  • Chiffon, and more

The term “delicate” is appropriate because they can be easily damaged by improper care.

So, why are they considered delicate? Well, these fabrics often have fine fibres, unique textures, or are exceptionally thin, making them more prone to wear and tear compared to the everyday cotton t-shirts we throw into the washer without a second thought.

Examples Of Delicate Clothing

You might have noticed that your washing machine has a “Delicates” cycle option for washing your clothing. 

Technically, it’s designed to mimic gentle handwashing, using low agitation and cold water to minimise the risk of damage. But how can you determine whether an item of clothing is delicate? 

It all boils down to a few key factors: fabric, thinness, and embellishments or embroidery.

Examples of Delicate Clothing


Delicate fabrics are more prone to damage and wear compared to standard cotton. They often feature fine fibres or unique textures that make them challenging to launder. 

Some common examples of delicate fabrics include:

  • Silk
    Prone to snagging, staining, and watermarks.
  • Satin
    Easily snags.
  • Lace
    Tears and frays with ease.
  • Wool and Cashmere
    Can develop pills and stretch.
  • Linen
    Wrinkles readily.
  • Chiffon
    Susceptible to runs and snags.
  • Tulle
    Prone to snagging and tearing.


Thin clothing, even if made from tougher fabrics like cotton, can also be classified as delicate. 

The fineness and lightweight nature of thin garments make them susceptible to tears, snags, and stretching. 

As a result, it’s best not to wash them alongside sturdier items, such as denim trousers.

Embellished or Embroidered

Even seemingly tough fabrics like cotton or denim can fall into the delicate category if they have embellishments or embroidery. 

The added decorative elements, such as sequins, metal wirings, beads, and stitching, can be easily damaged or detached during washing or drying. 

NOTE: When putting embellished or embroidered clothes in the washer, turn them inside out! This reduces the risk of snagging or damaging your other clothing. 

Tips You Need To Know About Caring For “Delicate Clothes”

Now that you know what qualifies as delicate clothing let’s look into how to take care of them. 

Whether it’s your favourite silk blouse or that cosy wool scarf, here are some valuable tips to keep your garments in their best condition for longer:

Read The Care Label

First and foremost, read the care label on your garments. 

Always check the wash care labels

These labels provide specific instructions on how to clean and care for your clothing. Pay attention to recommended washing temperatures, drying instructions, and any warnings about ironing or dry cleaning. Following the care label’s guidance is crucial to avoid unintentional damage.


Handwashing is often the gentlest way to clean delicate clothes. 

Fill a basin or sink with cold water and add a mild detergent suitable for delicate fabrics. Gently agitate the water to create suds and submerge the garment, allowing it to soak for a few minutes. 

Avoid excessive rubbing or wringing, as this can cause damage. Rinse thoroughly with cold water until the detergent is completely removed, and gently press out excess water before air drying.

Use The Right Programme On Your Washer

If you prefer machine washing, make use of the appropriate programme on your washer. Many modern washing machines have a “delicate” or “gentle” cycle designed for fragile fabrics. 

Delicate Wash Cycle

These cycles typically use lower temperatures, reduced agitation, and shorter wash times to minimise the risk of damage. Always check the garment’s care label to ensure it’s suitable for machine washing and select the correct programme accordingly.

NOTE: Use mild detergent! This will help ensure that the chemicals in your detergent will not break down the fibres in your delicate clothing. 

Use A Mesh Bag

When using the washing machine for delicate items, consider placing them inside a mesh laundry bag. 

This simple yet effective tool protects your delicate clothes from friction, snags, and entanglement with other items during the wash. It’s especially useful for lingerie, lace, or items with delicate embellishments.

Mesh Laundry Bags for Delicates with Non Rust Zipper(10 Pack)-MDSXO White Delicate Laundry Wash Bags, Easy Fit Bra, Sock,Lingerie,Sneaker,Baby Laundry for Washing Machine Travel Storage[1XL/3L/3M/3S]
  • 【Package included】 You will get 10 Pack MDSXO laundry delicates bags (1 Pack Extra large:23.6*19.7inch, 3 Pack Large: 19.7*15.7inch, 3 Pack Medium: 15.7*11.8inch, 3 Pack Small: 11.8*9.84inch) Different sizes of laundry nets are suitable for different sizes of clothing. Make your clean life easier!
  • 【New upgrade mesh design】 The mesh washing bag is made of durable polyester. The regular mesh makes the flow of water and washing smoother and can be cleaned by rubbing against clothes. It can protect your clothes well without affecting the washing of the clothes.

Dry Clean If Necessary

Certain delicate fabrics, such as silk or cashmere, may require professional dry cleaning to maintain their shape. 

If the care label recommends dry cleaning, be sure to take the garment to a dry cleaner experienced in handling delicate materials. Dry cleaning helps remove stains and refresh the fabric without causing damage.

Use Low Temperatures When Ironing

When it comes to ironing delicate clothes, it’s essential to use a low-temperature setting on your iron. 


Additionally, place a cloth or pressing cloth between the iron and the fabric to prevent direct contact, which could cause scorching or melting. This gentle approach ensures that your delicate garments remain smooth and wrinkle-free without harming the fabric.

Store In A Cool, Dry Area

Proper storage is key to preserving delicate clothes. Store them in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight and moisture. 

Consider using padded hangers for items like silk blouses and dresses to prevent stretching. Folding delicate knits and sweaters can also help maintain their shape.

Repair Issues ASAP

Lastly, address any issues with your delicate clothes as soon as you notice them!

Whether it’s a loose thread, a missing button, or a small tear, prompt repairs can prevent further damage and extend the life of your cherished garments. Ignoring small holes and tears will just make them bigger as time passes.

Delicate Clothes Require Gentle Care

In conclusion, delicate clothes may require a bit more attention, but the effort is well worth it to keep your favourite pieces looking nice and presentable. 

So, the next time you find yourself holding that delicate silk blouse or lace-trimmed camisole, remember these tips to ensure they remain exquisite and elegant for years to come.

Do you have tips to share? Feel free to share them below!

SEE ALSO: Is Hand Wash The Same As A Delicate Cycle? (what’s the difference)

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know if clothes are delicate?

Clothes are considered delicate if they are made from fragile fabrics like silk, satin, lace, wool, or have unique textures, thinness, or embellishments that make them prone to damage.

Where are care labels in clothes found?

Care labels in clothes are typically found inside the garment, usually along the inner seam or near the neckline. These labels provide specific care instructions, including washing, drying, and ironing guidelines.

What clothes should be dried on delicate?

Delicate clothes, such as those made from fragile fabrics or with embellishments, should be dried using a delicate or gentle cycle on your dryer or air-dried to minimise the risk of damage.

Can you use regular detergent on delicate clothes?

You should avoid using regular detergent on delicate clothes. Instead, use a mild detergent suitable for delicate fabrics to prevent damage.

What is the purpose of a mesh laundry bag?

A mesh laundry bag is used to protect delicate clothes during machine washing. It prevents friction, snags, and entanglement with other items, especially useful for lingerie, lace, or clothes with delicate embellishments.

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