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Washing Machines – The Best Washes For Your Delicates

Washing machines have taken the grunt work out of washing all your clothes by hand. But that doesn’t mean you should wash everything on the same cycle, or, God forbid, throw everything into one load. Canstar Blue explores the best washes for your delicates, plus some top tips for getting the most out of them.

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Why do delicates need to be washed differently?

Delicate items, like silk blouses or lace lingerie, need special care when washing because they’re made of fragile fabrics or have intricate details. Regular washing machines and harsh detergents can damage them easily. By treating delicates with care, you can keep them looking beautiful and lasting longer.

What are the best washing machine cycles for delicates?

For washing delicate items in a washing machine, you should use a cycle specifically designed for delicates or hand wash. These cycles typically have settings that are gentler on fabrics, with lower agitation and shorter washing times. Here are the best washing machine cycles for delicates:

Hand wash cycle

Some washing machines offer a “Hand Wash” cycle that mimics hand washing by using gentle agitation and shorter washing times. This cycle is ideal for delicate items that require extra care.

Delicate cycle

Many modern washing machines have a dedicated “Delicate” cycle designed specifically for delicate fabrics. This cycle uses gentle agitation and lower spin speeds to protect delicate items from damage.

Wool cycle

If you’re washing delicate wool items, look for a “Wool” cycle on your washing machine. This cycle is designed to wash wool fabrics gently, preventing shrinking and felting.

Silk cycle

Some advanced washing machines have a “Silk” cycle specifically tailored for washing silk fabrics. This cycle uses gentle agitation and low temperatures to prevent damage to delicate silk fibres.

Does water temperature matter?

Yes, water temperature matters when washing delicates. In general, using cold water is recommended for washing delicate items. Here’s why:

  1. Prevents shrinkage: delicate fabrics like silk, wool, and certain synthetics are prone to shrinking when exposed to heat. Washing them in cold water helps to prevent this shrinkage, preserving the size and shape of the garments.
  2. Preserves colours: hot water can cause colours to bleed or fade, especially in delicate fabrics. Cold water washing helps to preserve the vibrancy of colours and prevent them from running onto other garments.
  3. Gentler on fabrics: cold water is gentler on delicate fabrics compared to hot water, which can weaken fibres and lead to damage or wear over time. Using cold water helps to maintain the integrity and quality of delicate items.
  4. Universal safe option: cold water is a safe option for most delicate fabrics, as it minimises the risk of damage associated with hot water washing. It’s a universally recommended temperature for washing delicates, providing peace of mind when caring for your garments.

While cold water is generally recommended for washing delicates, always check the care label on your garments for specific instructions. In some cases, lukewarm water may be suitable, but it’s best to err on the side of caution and opt for cold water to ensure the safety and longevity of your delicate items.

Pre-wash tips

Check the care label

Always read the care label on your delicate items for specific washing instructions. This will guide you on the appropriate water temperature, cycle, and any other special care requirements.

Pre-treat stains

If your delicate item has stains, pre-treat them with a gentle stain remover or detergent before washing. Gently dab the stain rather than rubbing it to avoid damaging the fabric.

Use a mesh laundry bag

Place delicate items in a mesh laundry bag before washing to protect them from snagging or tangling with other garments. This is especially important for items with lace, sequins, or delicate embellishments.

Washing cycles tips

Avoid overloading

Do not overcrowd the washing machine when washing delicates. Overloading can lead to excessive friction and damage to delicate fabrics. Wash delicate items in small batches to ensure thorough cleaning without overcrowding.

Use a mild detergent

Choose a gentle detergent formulated for delicates to avoid harsh chemicals that can damage sensitive fabrics. Avoid bleach and strong stain removers, as they can weaken delicate fibres.

Can I put delicates in the dryer?

It’s generally not recommended to put delicate items in the dryer, as the heat and agitation can damage fragile fabrics, cause shrinking, and lead to misshaping. Instead, it’s best to air dry delicate items to preserve their quality and prolong their lifespan.

If you must use a dryer for your delicates, use the lowest heat setting possible and remove the items promptly when they’re slightly damp to reduce the risk of damage. However, air drying is still the safest and most effective method for preserving delicate fabrics and ensuring they remain in good condition for longer.

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About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Caitlin Bingham. Caitlin is an experienced writer whose passion for creativity led her to study communication and journalism. She began her career freelancing as a content writer, before joining the Canstar team.

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