Hand Washing Clothing

A blue basin with soapy clothing.
Whether you are caring for delicates or just don't have access to a washing machine, it's possible to hand wash your clothing without any special equipment or detergents. These tips are great if you are traveling without access to a laundromat.

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September 25, 2020

I have some white clothing I would like to tub wash, since i'm broke until end of the month. I have 1 pair of white "thick material" shorts that I have a hard time washing, its 60% Polyester and 40% cotton ( that I especially wanna wash), it's hard to get some blood stains and other "gross" stuff off it.

Can I use baking soda or something as a natural stain remover for this? If so, how you specifically use it? Do you scrub and knead your clothing? Please tell me step by step what you do. Much appreciated!


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 267 Posts
September 25, 20200 found this helpful
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The best thing to get blood and other organic stains out of clothes is hydrogen peroxide. I would use this before you move to the tub. After you let it sit a bit and foam up, I would scrub the clothing together with your hands and then rinse it out. Treat it more than once if need be. As long as the stain hasn't set, it should come out.


If there are still stains, I would use laundry detergent or dish soap on them and let it sit awhile. Make sure your tub is entirely clean so you don't add to the problem. I would scrub it together with your hands again. A scrub brush may cause damage to the finish of the fabric.

Depending on how much soap you use for stains, it might take awhile to rinse the shorts out. I would use lukewarm water instead of hot as that may set the stains before you get them out. Keep changing the water until it is clear and you don't see any more soap coming out. With any luck, your shorts will be clean.

You could try other cleaning products but be sure not to mix them as they could combine into a toxic gas, depending on the ingredients. Check your label for care instructions. Polyester and bleach are not a good combination but non-chlorine bleach might work. Worst case scenario, you might be able to fade the stain by leaving it out in the sun for several days.


Next time, I would treat stains as soon as possible as they always come out better. If you ever have a red food stain from Kool-aid or fruit juices, pouring boiling water through it is often effective.

Good luck, I hope this helps.

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Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
September 25, 20200 found this helpful
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I'm not sure anyone can offer better suggestions than Jess but I have found that dealing with blood stains it is usually best to use only cold water and do not mix solutions unless directions call for a mixture.
Be sure to rinse garments with cold water before starting any method and work with damp material - never dry material.
I have never used chlorine bleach but some people use it on cotton but never on polyester.


It is best to always treat blood stains as quickly as possible as old, set blood stains are sometime very difficult to remove.
It does not sound like you have access to a dryer right now but in the future always remember to never place anything in a dryer that still has stains.

I believe hydrogen peroxide is the best solution for removing blood stains but I use a solution of 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide, 1/2 cup baking soda and maybe 1/4 cup water.
You can mix this in a spray bottle or in an bowl - shake well and either spray on stains or use cloth dipped in solution and blotted on the stains. Remember - cold water.
Wait 5-10 minutes - rinse and if stains remain apply again.
You can substitute white vinegar if no hydrogen peroxide is available but it may not work on old stains.


As to how to wash - hopefully you have a smaller bucket instead of the bathtub but use what you have.
Use laundry detergent if available but dish soap will work in a pinch.
Start out with a small amount of soap and add more if seems necessary.
Methods to use:
Let clothes soak for 10 minutes and then use something to agitate the clothes.
Some people use a commode plunger (covered with a pillowcase or light colored tee shirt) and plunge it up and down on the clothes or agitate them with your hands (all of this is very tiring).
You will have to do this with clear water several times as soap is difficult to remove.
Use white vinegar or a 1/4 cup baking soda in your final rinse (any odor will go away).

Here is a good link for washing clothes in a bath tub.

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 196 Feedbacks
September 26, 20200 found this helpful
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To add to this already comprehensive answer, if you have the ability to let them dry outside in the sun--skirt hangers are great for this--clip one clip to each side of the shorts--the sun helps refresh and I feel gives whites a little extra brightness. When we have a sunny day in Pgh, I can put clothes out and they dry in 2-3 hours--even heavy denim type jeans. Best wishes for easy solutions!

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August 1, 2015

This is a page about homemade wringer for hand washing clothes. Making your own wringer for your hand washing can help speed up the drying time.

hand operated clothes wringer

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January 3, 2013

This is a page about hand washing delicate clothing. Certain pieces of delicate clothing call for hand washing.

Hand Washing Delicate Clothing

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