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No-Rinse Detergent Will Make You Want To Hand Wash Everything

Photo: Brina Blum (Unsplash)
SqualorJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She’ll be here every week helping to answer your filthiest questions. Are you dirty? Email her.

Maybe you’re curious about hand-laundering. “Could it really be so easy?” you’re perhaps wondering (yes!). Or maybe you’ve bought a pricey delicate item—like a bra or a fine cashmere sweater or a sexy negligee to wear on Sundays while you watch Succession—that you want to hand-wash to avoid damage and to extend its life. Or you might have travel upcoming and anticipate needing to do some hotel room laundry. Great! Get yourself a bottle of no-rinse detergent, and give hand-laundering a whirl.

There are two brands that offer no-rinse detergent, and Soak Wash is the one you wantunless you plan to exclusively wash wool, in which case the other brand, Eucalan, is a perfectly fine option. The thing about Eucalan is that it contains lanolin, which is fine on woolens, but can attract grime in other fiber types. So it’s not a multi-purpose as Soak, which can also be used in the washing machines since it’s low-sudsing.

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There are two things no-rinse detergents have going for them: The first is that they make the hand-washing process faster, since they take a step out (i.e. the part where you have to rinse). The second is that forgoing rinsing means less handling of the garment, which in the case of delicates like bras or cashmere means less stress on the fibers. Great! But, like, how does that even work? The company’s website explains, “Soak is a low-suds liquid, the dirt and detergent come out in the water, and whatever is left in the item evaporates. When you squeeze out the water, all that’s left behind is a hint of fragrance that dissipates over time.”

But maybe you hate scented detergents? No problem, Soak has an unscented formula.

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“OK, I’m in! But, like, how?” Here’s how:

  1. First you’ll need a space big enough to accommodate the garment and water to fully submerge it. I like a kitchen or utility sink, but a bathtub or washing bucket will work just fine, too.
  2. Fill the sink with cold water and a small amount of no-rinse detergent. Soak recommends using a capful of its detergent diluted in a gallon of water.
  3. Put the garment in the water and use your hands to submerge it, swirling it around a bit so that the detergent fully penetrates the fibers. Let it soak for 15 minutes.
  4. Then, drain the water and roll the item in a dry towel to extrude moisture (don’t wring or twist delicate garments please!). Hang or lay it flat to dry.
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That’s all! Seriously. That’s how you hand-wash clothing. I told you it was easy!

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About the author

Jolie Kerr

Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast Ask a Clean Person