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What Is Hand Wash on Washing Machines (Safe to Use on Delicates?)

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Hand washing clothes might sound familiar; washing clothes with human hands. After all, this is the oldest form of washing clothes since man learned hygiene. 

Enter the similar-sounding hand wash setting on modern washing machines. If you’ve seen this feature in your washing machine, you might have questions about how it works and whether it is worth it or not.

You’re in the right place, as this is what this article is all about. So stick around, and we will discuss everything about it and more.

What Is the Hand Wash Feature on a Washing Machine?

Hand wash is a feature in modern washing machines designed for washing clothes with a hand-wash-only label. Due to their delicate nature, these clothes are not compatible with washing in the standard cycles. 

The most common clothes include ones made of fabrics such as wool, cashmere, silk, and chiffon, among others.

Hand Wash Cycle on Washing Machines (Safe to use on delicates?)
Here’s a video I made to explain the hand wash cycle and how to use it.

When to Use Hand Wash Setting

The best way to know if the garment should be put on a hand wash setting is to read its care label. For this type of clothes, you should see a hand wash symbol if they are intended for handwashing. 

This is what the handwash symbol generally looks like. It may have some slight variations, but a hand in a tub of water is what you are looking for.

But as a rule of thumb, any clothing with the following characteristics or fabric is classified as delicates and should be put on a hand wash cycle.

  • All silk, cashmere, chiffon, wool, soft cotton, and angora, among others
  • Clothes with deep embellishment and embroideries
  • Woven items with intricate designs that can entangle with themselves, or other clothes

The list is by no means exhaustive. If unsure, hand wash it or use the hand wash machine setting. 

This is because some clothes might be made of a small percentage of the delicate material on them, though they may appear as made of another type of fabric. 

For example, some cotton clothes may contain a low level of wool or cashmere. For durability, you should avoid the standard rough cycles and opt for the hand wash instead.

How to Use the Hand Wash Setting on a Washing Machine

Using this setting shouldn’t be a problem if you’re versed in using washing machines.

All you have to do is to fill the washing machine with water, add the right detergent dosing and select the hand wash setting.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Only use detergent meant for hand washing. Such detergents are mild on the clothes fabrics even as they are tough on the soiling to avoid damaging the clothes.
  • Be sure to put clothes with fancy embellishments and embroideries in a mesh bag before throwing them in the washing machine. While the hand wash cycle is gentle, these embellishments can entangle other clothes and get ruined.
  • The ideal hand wash temperature shouldn’t exceed 30 degrees. Usually, this is automatically set by the wash cycle setting. 
  • But different washing machines may have different temperature settings. For these washers, be sure to keep the temperature at 30 degrees.

What Are the Benefits of the Hand Washing Setting?

From the foregoing, we can see the handwash cycle has some definite benefits for your hand-wash-only clothes. Below are the salient ones.

Gentle on Clothes

Due to the low level of agitation, spin speeds, and the use of mild detergent, this wash setting is the most appropriate setting for clothes with mild clothes care requirements. This makes the clothes last longer.

Cost Saving

This setting uses a minimal amount of water to wash. And as it uses a low level of agitation, there is not much power used as well. Low power and water usage mean low utility bills to pay.

9 Steps to HALVE Laundry Costs (How I Save $150 Yearly)
Here is my complete guide to saving on laundry costs.

Friendly to the Environment

In relation to its low cost, this also makes it one of the most eco-friendly options. With low electricity and water usage, this means there is conservation of resources, which is essential, especially in water-scarce areas.

How Safe Is the Hand Washing Setting?

This is a setting designed specifically for the handwash fabrics in mind. For that reason, the setting is generally safe. 

But remember, once you do your setting and run the cycle, you’re no longer in control of what is going on in there. 

So there is still some possibility of some clothes entangling and stretching or some embroideries getting torn off. 

So for some rare vintages or other clothes that you would not want to risk, you might want to use alternative methods such as real handwashing, where you can carefully handle the washing process.

Hand Wash vs. Delicate Cycle Setting

The question I get asked most of the time is if the hand wash cycle is the same as the delicate cycle.

While they have some common characteristics, the wash settings are different from the delicate cycle. 

For one, the handwash settings are designed to imitate tender washing care by the use of a human hand. 

Agitations are usually mild, with some brief pauses. While the delicate cycle is a continuous process. This makes the hand wash more gentle in comparison to the delicate wash.

What if My Washing Machine Doesn’t Have a Hand Wash Cycle Setting?

It’s true not all washing machines have this setting. But as we found out, while not the same, the delicate cycle has similarities with the hand wash setting. That means you can safely use it to wash your delicate hand-wash-only clothes. 

However, if you feel this setting is not compatible with your particular garment, you can resort to actual physical hand washing. Alternatively, you can take it to professional dry cleaning services.

Final Thoughts

Hand washing settings are a useful feature not known by many people. But it is quite a helpful program for hand-wash-only clothes. 

Using this method is straightforward, like most other settings you’ve used in washing machines. Besides that, you’ve got the added peace of mind of its benefits of caring for your delicates. 

Hopefully, this article has inspired you to use it more regularly for the benefit of your hand-wash-only clothes.

I’ve created a comprehensive guide on how to use all the settings on your washing machine that may interest you to read next.


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