What Is The “Hand Wash” Setting (on a washing machine)?

The hand wash setting on your washing machine isn’t just another button – it’s a specialised wash cycle designed to replicate the gentle art of hand washing clothes. 

Picture the “hand wash” setting as your washer’s way of treating your garments with the utmost care, mimicking the delicate touch of your own hands.  This programme is tailor-made for fabrics that demand extra care, especially those labelled “hand wash only.” Think cashmere, silk, lace, wool, and other delicate materials that deserve the gentlest treatment.

So, why does this setting exist, and when should you use it? 

When Should You Use The Hand Wash Setting?

The hand wash setting is your go-to for delicate garments that need extra TLC. It’s like a gentle shower for your clothes, combining lower temperatures, reduced spin speed, and shorter cycles to ease the stress on delicate garments.

hand wash setting in washing machine

Using the hand wash setting is an option you’ll want to choose for fabrics with a “hand wash only” label, which is common for cashmere, silk, lace, and wool. Vintage pieces, embroidered designs, knitwear, crochets, and anything embellished with beads or sequins are also your top candidates for the hand wash treatment. 

But here’s the crucial distinction – the “hand wash” setting is not the same as the “delicate” setting. Delicate settings tend to agitate more vigorously, making the hand wash setting your gentlest option. 

NOTE: Although the hand wash setting is a much more gentle cycle, there’s still a possibility of snagging when you wash embellished clothes. Secure delicate items in a mesh laundry bag to protect your fabrics properly.

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How To Use The Hand Wash Setting On Your Washing Machine

Using the hand wash setting is easy. Simply sort your laundry, load it into the drum, add detergent to the compartment, and choose the hand wash option. Most modern washers come pre-programmed, determining the time and temperature needed for a gentle yet effective clean. Typically, the hand wash cycle lasts between one to one and a half hours.

When it comes to temperature, 30° Celsius is the sweet spot for a gentle but effective laundry session. Remember, hot water can spell disaster for silk, causing shrinkage and damage. So, keep it cool and let your machine do its job. 

30 Degree Wash Cycle

Can You Use Delicate Wash Instead?

If your washing machine lacks the hand wash setting, don’t panic. 

The delicate setting can be a good alternative, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Check clothing labels – if It says the garment is “hand wash only,” using the delicate setting could risk higher agitation and spin speed, potentially causing damage. 

Delicate Wash Cycle

NOTE: Always consult your appliance’s User Manual to understand the intricacies of each wash setting. Manufacturers may use different terminology – what’s called “Hand Wash” on one machine might be labelled “Delicate” on another. Familiarising yourself with the specifics ensures you choose the gentlest option available.

Additional Laundry Tips To Keep Your Clothes In Tip-Top Shape

Aside from making use of the hand wash programme, here are some tips to help keep your delicate clothes in excellent condition:

Sort Your Laundry

Before you can experience the hand wash setting, sorting your laundry is key. 

person holding a laundry basket

Group items by soil level and fabric type, and of course, keep those delicate fabrics separate from your regular clothing. This ensures that each piece receives the care it deserves, extending the lifespan of your wardrobe.

Be Wary Of Your Detergent Use

When it comes to detergents, less is more. 

Using an excessive amount won’t make your clothes cleaner; instead, it may lead to foul odours as the machine struggles to rinse out the excess product. Stick to the recommended amount and avoid harsh chemicals or bleach, which can ruin your sensitive clothing.

Load Responsibly

Finding the right balance in your washing machine’s drum is crucial for efficient cleaning. 

large load in drum illustration

Avoid both underloading and overloading, as they can affect the machine’s performance and the effectiveness of the wash cycle. Aim to fill the drum between half and three-quarters full for an optimal washing session.

If Possible, Air Dry

Once the hand wash cycle is complete, consider air drying your delicates. 

Not only is air drying kinder to your wallet, but it also minimises the risk of damage, ensuring your garments stand the test of time. Always check the care labels on your clothes for specific drying instructions.

Make Your Laundry Sessions More Efficient!

When it comes to the various wash cycles, the hand wash setting stands out as the gentle programme, preserving the beauty and longevity of your most delicate pieces. 

With a little sorting, responsible loading, and air drying, it’ll be easier to keep your clothes in top-notch condition! 

Do you have questions? Feel free to leave a comment below!

SEE ALSO: Air Drying Vs Tumble Drying Clothes: which is better?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the hand wash setting on a washing machine?

The hand wash setting is a specialised wash cycle designed to gently clean delicate fabrics, mimicking the care of washing garments by hand.

Can you put “hand wash only” clothes on a spin cycle?

Avoid using the spin cycle for “hand wash only” clothes, as it can potentially damage delicate fabrics. Stick to the hand wash setting for these garments.

Is the hand wash cycle using cold water?

The handwash cycle often uses lower temperatures, typically around 30°C, to provide a gentle yet effective clean for delicate fabrics.

What happens if I machine wash “hand wash only” garments?

Machine washing “hand wash only” garments can lead to damage, shrinkage, or deformation of delicate fabrics. It’s recommended to use the hand wash setting to be safe.

Do you use detergent on the hand wash setting?

Yes, it is necessary to use detergent on the hand wash setting. Add it to the designated compartment before starting the cycle for a gentle and effective cleaning process.

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