It’s Less of a Hassle to Wash Laundry by Hand Than You Think

Right about now, thousands—even millions—of city dwellers are likely finding themselves in a predicament. That pile of dirty clothes is growing, but going to the laundromat doesn’t exactly jive with staying indoors. If you’re not lucky enough to have an in-unit washer and dryer, figuring out how to do your laundry at home in this period of isolation can be a challenge—but it doesn’t have to be a drag. It just takes a little more time and strategizing than your normal routine. Follow the advice of Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd, cofounders of The Laundress, and you’ll tackle that pile in no time:

Work in Small Batches

While you might typically wait for your hamper to fill up before heading to the laundromat, Whiting and Boyd recommend washing small loads (about five tops and three pairs of pants) every few days—this is especially key if you don’t have a ton of space to hang your clothes and linens to dry.

Wash, Fill, and Soak

Doing your laundry in the bath isn’t that different from doing it in the sink. Clean the tub, close the drain, add your garments, and fill it with water until your belongings are just covered. Then pour in detergent (you’ll likely need less than you normally use with a machine) and use your hands to agitate the water—you’ll want it to look bubbly and soapy. Let everything sit for 30 minutes.

Drain, Then Rinse

One episode of TV later, it’s time to remove the laundry (press each garment against the edge of the tub to squeeze out water) and place it temporarily in a bucket as you drain the soapy water and refill the tub. Put your clothes and linens back in and swirl them around to get rid of suds. You can also run any especially soapy things directly under the faucet. Delicates like cashmere and silk might require a little more attention.

Get Drying

The whole washing process should take less than an hour, according to Whiting and Boyd, but it’s the drying that will require your patience. If you’re staying home, it’s a good idea to do your laundry in the a.m. so it has the whole day to dry out. Remove items from the water and press them against the edge of the tub again to get out excess water—you can also lay them flat on a towel and roll them up sleeping bag–style if they still feel soaked. Hang everything or lay flat to dry. If you’re short on space, you can drape things (like your sheets) over your shower curtain rod—just make sure to give the rod a good cleaning first—and open the bathroom window to speed up the process. All you have to do now is wait.

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