Hand Washing Sweaters and Delicates

We used to do a lot more hand washing of fine fabrics, including delicate lingerie and nice sweaters, than anyone does today. I grew up doing laundry the old-fashioned way for the most part, but today, I use the convenience of automatic washer and dryer for everything except nice sweaters and delicate clothing, which I still treat the way my mother taught us to do.


Wash in mild soap and cool water, rinse well, and either dry on hangers, line dry, use gentle cycle of dryer, or flat-dry on towels. Although those things may have changed a little over the years, we still rinse the same old way to get the sweetest smelling and softest sweaters. The final rinse should have some Tone or other sweet smelling bath soap rubbed into the water. Not much, just a little bit to slightly cloud the water is fine.

Rinse the hand washed items, and place on several thicknesses of dry towels (pay attention to the colors you're using) and allow to dry flat. We use the tops of washer and dryer for this. If you roll the wet clothing in a dry towel first, but do not twist, just gently squeeze out all the water possible before laying them out onto dry towels, you'll find your clothing will stay looking like brand new and retain their lovely colors for as long as you treat them this way.

There are a few tricks our grandmothers and mothers used that no technology is going to make better, and this is one of them.

Source: My Mother and every other lady I knew when I was a child.

By Julia from Boca Raton, FL

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June 27, 20110 found this helpful

Another great tip Julia. My own mother taught me this way and I taught my daughter and also my son. I think it's important to also teach our sons to be able to fend for themselves if need be.

Thanks for sharing again.

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June 28, 20110 found this helpful

I too was taught this way. I use the clothes drying rack I used in college. I put a large towel across two of the even bars and clip it on each end with a clothes pin. I can dry two sweaters at a time using two different levels. You were right about the warning with the colors and towels. It is not a good idea to dry a red sweater on a white towel, unless that is the designated use for the towel. The white towel may have red dye on it which may be difficult to remove. I like some of the old tried-and-true ways of doing things. They usually get the job done in an efficient manner.

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June 28, 20110 found this helpful

Julia, you make an excellent point: too few of our young people are learning to do things the "old-fashioned way." The Tone soap is a new one on me, but I do wash the cashmere sweater a neighbor gave me in a nice-smelling soap. Like you, I squeeze it in a towel (without twisting, of course) before I lay it flat to dry. Now if only I knew how to keep it from shedding all over everything while I'm washing it!

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June 28, 20110 found this helpful

I also was taught this way by my mother, I also have a net bag that we make from net curtains. If I'm washing my daughters knitted cardigans in the wash, I put them in the net bag and they always look like new. It works the same to put it in a pillow case if you don't have a net bag.

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June 28, 20110 found this helpful

I remember my own mother teaching me how to iron our bedsheets and how wonderful they smelled when you crawled into them that first night. Remember that plastic thingy that you attached to the top of a soda bottle to make it a sprinkler? And lest we forget Niagra spray starch?

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