How to Wash Clothes in the Sink

A person washing clothes in a sink

Do you only have a few clothing items you need to clean? Washing them by hand in the sink is much more efficient than running a tiny batch of laundry. In addition to energy efficiency considerations, it may also be necessary to wash delicate items by hand or do laundry in the sink while you’re on vacation.

While handwashing laundry is a little more work than throwing your clothes into the washer, it’s quite easy to learn how to wash clothes in the sink. Just follow these basic steps:

  1. Read the care label
  2. Pre-treat stains
  3. Prepare the sink
  4. Wash the clothing
  5. Rinse with clean water
  6. Dry handwashed clothes

Ready to tackle washing a few articles of clothing in the sink? Keep reading for detailed instructions to walk you through each of these steps.

Everything You Need to Know to Wash Clothes in the Sink

Read the Care Label

The care label tells you what material the garment is made of, what temperature to wash it in, and what type of detergent to use. Your favorite mild detergent is appropriate for most items, though you may need to use no-rinse detergent for silk and lace clothing, and detergent with lanolin for wool and fine-knit materials. If you’re traveling and don’t have laundry detergent available, you can use baby shampoo instead.

Pre-Treat Stains

Address stains or heavily soiled areas before washing your clothes to help ensure success. Follow these suggestions:

  • Soak stains caused by coffee, chocolate, alcohol, blood, or spit-up in cold water. Then, apply prewash stain remover immediately before washing.
  • Pre-treat stains caused by grass, bodily fluids, or dairy products with a stain treatment product containing enzymes.
  • Rub grease-fighting dish soap on cooking oil or grease splatters.
  • Treat dark stains caused by barbecue sauce, mustard, and fruit juice with bleach (if the care label says it’s safe to do so).

Prepare the Sink

Plug the drain with a stopper and fill the basin with water at the temperature recommended on the care label. (If no tag exists, use lukewarm water.) Add about a teaspoon of detergent to the water. You may need more if you’re handwashing multiple items.

Wash the Clothing

Add a garment or two at a time. If you have light and dark colors, save the darkest items for last. Fully submerge the clothing and agitate it with your hands for a few minutes. Stick to swishing and squeezing motions, since scrubbing, twisting, or rubbing could stretch or damage the fabric. Then, let the laundry soak in the sink for three to four minutes.

Rinse with Clean Water

Drain the sink, making sure to rinse out any remaining soap, and refill it with cool rinse water. Swish the clothes around to remove most of the soap. Drain and refill the sink a second time if necessary to remove all soapy residue. Finish by rinsing the laundry under running water.

Dry Handwashed Clothes

Squeeze out excess water from the clothing. Be careful not to twist or wring the laundry because this could stretch and ruin the fabric. If you find it difficult to squeeze all the water out, lay your clothes on a clean white towel. Roll up the towel and gently press on it to encourage water absorption.

Then, leave the garments out to dry. You can hang them on a clothesline, drying wrack, or lay them flat on another clean white towel. Give the clothes several hours to dry before hanging, folding, or wearing them. If you’re in a hurry, set the clean clothing outside, in the sun, or in front of a fan to help it dry faster.

Schedule Professional Housekeeping Services

How would you like to free up your time to complete other tasks or give yourself some much-deserved “me time?” Getting help with all your household chores really lightens your load. For more cleaning tips, or to arrange professional housekeeping services in your area, please contact your local Molly Maid or call us today for a free in-home estimate!