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Can you put hand wash clothes in the washing machine?

Updated March 23, 2017

Many delicate clothing items, especially woman's undergarments, have labels that state "hand wash only" on the tag. In most cases, the manufacturer suggests this to avoid ruining the clothes with the harsh cycles of a washing machine, allowing the clothing to last longer. Many times, you can wash these items in a washing machine using a hand wash or delicate cycle, saving you the time and effort of a true hand wash.

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Reading the Label

Read the label on the clothing item to ensure proper care. Follow the instructions to ensure that the item lasts a long time. If the tag states "hand wash only," set your washing machine to a delicate or hand wash setting. Also note whether the tag suggests warm or cold water.

Pre-Treating Stains

Inspect the item for any stains and pretreat as needed. In most cases, you can pretreat laundry by applying liquid detergent directly to the stain and rubbing the liquid into the garment. Another way to pretreat is to use a clear shampoo, which is a gentler way to remove stains, for a very delicate garment.


Place the item in the washer and allow it to go through one delicate cycle. If stained, remove it from the washer and inspect to ensure that the stain has been removed. If it is still stained, repeat the previous step. Do not place the item in the dryer until the stain is no longer visible.


Remove the item from the washer as soon as possible after the end of the wash to avoid a musty smell from mould. Make sure to follow the tag's instructions for drying. If drying in a dryer is recommended, put the dryer on the lowest possible setting for the least amount of time to avoid shrinking. Remove the item as soon as possible from the dryer to ensure as few wrinkles as possible.

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About the Author

Lynn Lauren has been a professional writer since 1999, focusing on the areas of weddings, professional profiles and the banking industry. She has been published in several local magazines including "Elegant Island Weddings." Lauren has a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Business Administration, both with marketing concentrations from Georgia Southern University and Mercer University, respectively.

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