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Never Hand Wash Delicates Again With This One Simple Trick

A woman is placing a sweater into a mesh laundry bag. Pointing out embroidery on a sweater.

I know as well as anyone how easy it can be to damage delicate clothing, but I don’t want to spend all day laundering my clothes by hand. I’m also the type to see a challenge where others might see a warning, so the fact that I tasked myself with learning how to avoid washing delicate clothes by hand shouldn’t surprise anyone!

I’ve written previously about how certain dry clean-only items can be machine-washed, and after reading this post, you’ll be able to safely clean many “hand wash only” items in your washing machine too. After learning a few simple rules for washing delicate clothes in your washing machine, you can machine wash your delicate items with confidence!

How To (Safely) Wash Delicates In Your Washing Machine

A woman putting a sweater into a large mesh laundry bag.

The best (and most simple) way to protect your delicates when washing them in a machine is by zipping them into a mesh laundry bag. Sometimes called “lingerie bags,” these simple mesh bags protect their contents from getting snagged, stretched, twisted, or otherwise harmed in the washing machine.

A good set of mesh laundry bags can keep a wide variety of delicate clothing in tip-top shape for years to come. (There are plenty of other uses for mesh laundry bags, too!)

A woman holding a package of Jillee's Gentle Care mesh laundry bags.

Which Mesh Laundry Bags Should I Buy?

I may be biased, but I genuinely love the mesh laundry bags I offer in my shop! They’re attractive, sturdy, effective, and thoughtfully designed, which is everything I could ask for in a laundry bag!

And you don’t just have to take my word for it! Here are a few glowing reviews from OGT readers:

Great product! I purchased a set of the mesh laundry bags for myself and loved them so much, I ordered a set of both sizes for my daughter.

Ramona

The answer to washing my heirloom crocheted tablecloth and the bobbin lace tablecloth. The bags are big enough to contain the table cloths, one only in a bag, and they are safely tucked in because of the secure zipper. There is enough room for good water flow for the soapy water and rinse water to do their jobs well.

Martha P.

I’ve been using laundry bags for many years and have enjoyed the ones I have. When I saw these from Jillee I knew I had to give them a try. They are bigger than what I have and are very well made. I like the fact that you can tuck the zipper in at the end. I now prefer these over my other ones.

Claudette
A woman holding a large mesh laundry bag with a recessed zipper tab to protect clothing.

Highlights of these bags include:

  • Sturdy honeycomb mesh construction
  • Protective elastic zipper sleeve
  • Two useful sizes to choose from:
    • Small (10.25″ x 9.5″ x 4″) – Perfect for bras, socks, underwear, etc., with expandable sides for added capacity
    • Large (16″ x 19.5″) – Flat and roomy, great for chunky sweaters and other bulky items
  • Both sizes sold in sets of 3

CLICK HERE TO SHOP

4 More Tips for Protecting Delicates in the Wash

To protect delicates, fasten all zippers and other fasteners before laundering them.

1. Fasten Everything

Hooks, buttons, zippers, and other closures can cause clothing to snag during a wash cycle, even in a mesh bag. Closing any fasteners before washing items that have them will ensure they won’t damage other items.

Loading a laundry bag but not crowding the items.

2. Don’t Crowd Your Bags

When using mesh laundry bags, it’s also important to avoid overfilling them. A mesh bag will protect the items inside from damage, but packing them full of clothing may prevent the items inside from getting properly washed or rinsed.

Use the

3. Use A Gentle Cycle And Cold Water

Many modern machines have a delicate or hand wash cycle that’s perfect for cleaning silk, wool, embellished clothing, and other delicate items with minimal agitation and a slower spin cycle. Some such cycles use cold water by default, but if yours doesn’t, you’ll want to select the cold water option manually.

Freshly laundered delicates on a drying rack -- don't use the dryer.

4. Always Air Dry

Don’t risk damaging your delicates by subjecting them to the heat and friction of your tumble dryer. Instead, hang them on a rack or lay them flat to dry. Air drying is the safest way to dry just about anything you might wash in your washing machine, including delicate clothing.

While following the 5 tips above works wonderfully 9 times out of 10, there are certain exceptions, including especially delicate lace items and lightweight items with heavy fasteners. Learn more about safely washing items like these in my do’s and don’ts for handwashing clothes.

Have you tried putting “hand wash only” items in the washing machine?

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Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Homekeeping Tips

  • I have used both the large-hole mesh bag and also a very fine tricot-like bag, and the tricot-like bag is the winner for me – no bra hooks snag into the mesh, nothing in the wash reaches “in” to the holes of the mesh bag. The tricot-like bags are harder to find, Tide used to sell some at Target under their brand but discontinued them. I’ve still got some Tide bags that are over 15 years old, they are well made. IKEA also sells a tricot-like bag. Not as well made as the Tide bags but they do the job.

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