|So, several years ago I wrote up these instructions on cosplay.com and sort of forgot/ lost them. Someone else dug them up because it’s perpetually a pertinent question and I was reminded of my original text. So, for posteritys’ sake, here’s the low down on hand washing.
HOW TO HAND WASH GARMENTS:
– make sure the basin you are using is clean. it doesn’t have to sparkle but be sure it is free of other soap/ detergent, dirt, or food particles if you use the kitchen sink.
– cold or at least tepid water. I live where it’s really hot, in the summer the water out of the tap is probably about 83 degrees, this is fine. anything cooler than body temperature will not do harm.
– put your detergent in the water and swish it around. Detergent specifically for delicate garments is best, Woolite is the old stand by.
– unfold or spread out the garment, place it in the water as un-mushed-up as possible. Push it down to squeeze out air pockets so the garment is fully immersed.
– Let the garment soak. How long depends on how dirty it is. 30 minutes is usually sufficient to remove sweat and ambient smells like smoke and food. I set a timer, otherwise I forget and wind up rushing through the next steps at bed time because the children need a bath.
– after the soak, I go in and carefully inspect the areas most likely or known to have accumulated dirt: hems, cuffs, front center of the chest. I scrub the fabric against itself or use a soft scrub brush (like a nail brush) and more detergent to work these spots. rinse in the soak water and repeat as necessary.
– if you are satisfied with the cleanliness, drain your basin and rinse your garment in clear running water. squeeze but do not wring to get the soap out. Some fabrics hold a lot of water and therefore soap, be patient, just keep squeezing til no more bubbles are produced.
– if you drain the basin and it still seems grungy, repeat with a fresh basin of water and soap, letting it soak longer if possible.
– stretchy (spandex, lycra, etc) and knitted/ crocheted/ lace garments should be dried laid on a flat surface. hanging a wet leotard is a good way to stretch it permanently out of shape. Spread a couple bath towels out on a large flat surface (dining room tables are a popular choice) and spread out the garment. don’t fold it over itself, if possible. Lay arms and legs smooth, not wrinkled or twisted.
– always give yourself at least 24 hours between washing and packing it for travel or putting it away for the next time you wear it. mildew is nasty and does permanent damage to fabric and can happen amazingly fast if even a slightly damp item is packed tightly out of sight. Some fibers hold moisture better than others. I have a hand knit cotton sweater. it takes about 3 days to dry in the AC cooled house.