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

Right about now, thousands—even millions—of city-dwellers might be finding themselves in a predicament. That pile of dirty clothes is growing, but going to the laundromat isn’t an option. If you’re not lucky to have an in-unit washer and dryer, figuring out how to do your laundry 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. Just follow the advice of Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd, cofounders of The Laundress, below, 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 ‘mat, 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. Then, let it sit for 30 minutes.

Drain, then rinse

One episode of TV later, it’s time to take out your 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 with clean water. 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 under 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 each item from the water and press it against the edge of the tub 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 clean first, and open your bathroom window to speed up the process. All you have to do now is wait.

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