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How To Do Your Laundry Without a Washing Machine

Hey folks, we at Heddels are as concerned as you about what’s going on in the world and we thought we might be able to give you a little advice. For many of us, washing our clothes is a routine that involves leaving the home (and consequently our home quarantines) and going to a laundromat.

While this is still a practicable option for those of us young and healthy, for older folks or the immunocompromised, leaving the house isn’t necessarily on the table.


Disinfecting a folding rack in Central Maine. Image via Central Maine.

So today we’ll run through some ways to keep your clothing clean at home, without the use of a washer or dryer, and make sure you keep your home and favorite clothes nice and clean and virus-free.

Cleanliness and Quarantine


Image via Getty Images.

Within the last few days, we’ve learned a lot of new information about the covid-19 virus, but perhaps most shocking of all, is just how long the virus lasts on surfaces. The majority of the research has been on materials like stainless steel, where it can last for up to 72 hours and on cardboard, where it can last for up to 24 hours.

There is less information on how long the virus lasts on textiles, but it stands to reason that it could stay alive for at least a couple hours, which is more than enough time to accidentally spread germs to others or into your own home.

For this reason, it’s important to change out of your outside-clothes when you get home and also important to wash your clothes as much as possible. Yes, that means your raw denim too, if you’ve worn in out and about.

But hey, the good news is that good old-fashioned soap and water  are enough to kill this thing. It’s not like you need to go and buy some new-fangled anti-viral detergent or anything.

At-Home Washing


Handwash. Image via Homesteading.

While Joe Schmo might not know much about hand-washing, us denimheads definitely do. We’ve been voluntarily hand-washing clothing for just about as long as we’ve been into the scene. Luckily, the general technique for hand-washing our clothes is just about the same as for our jeans.

It’s not at all complicated, but you may want to observe the general rules of thumb you might follow when machine-washing large batches of clothing. Different materials require different treatments, colors should be separated, and colder water will be gentler and cause less shrinkage.

The most important thing is to make sure you have enough time. Unlike throwing everything in the wash and getting to sit back on your phone, you’ll need to be a little more hands-on (duh, it’s called hand-washing), so put on some good music or a great podcast and lets get down to it.

Where and How


Image via Molly Maid.

You can do your washing in any basin you can fill up with water. This could be your sink, your bathtub, or even a bucket if that’s an option. If you have two basins at your disposal, you can use one for the wash and one for the rinse, but that’s not entirely necessary.

As long as you can fill up something with water, you’re good to go.


Image via Rope Dye.

As pretty much all denim fans know, washes are safest with cold/lukewarm water and the same is true with most clothing. Unless your stuff has been hot-washed and dried a ton and you’re certain the shrinkage is out, you’ll probably want to go with a colder option.

You’ll want to add a detergent, which can be just about whatever you have. If you have a go-to detergent you use in the washer, use that, but in a smaller quantity—usually about one teaspoon. But if times are tough and you only have access to hand soap—use that.

Hell, if you have no soap, just do all this with hot water! All that matters is that your clothing is cleaner than when you started.

Much like in your average denim soak, agitate the water and clothes until they’ve been well combined and the (hopefully) soapy water is sudsy and good to go. At that point, leave everything to soak for about 30 minutes, with occasional agitation along the way.


Image via Huffpost.

Once everything has soaked for a while, you’ll need to do a rinse. If you have a second tub with cool, clean water, you can transition the clothing to that. If not, drain your first basin until empty and run the tap over the soapy clothes until the suds are gone.

At this point, rinse all the clothes in this clean, cool water, pressing them against the side of the basin to squeeze out excess water and leftover detergent. You don’t want to wring them or stretch them as that may strain the garments or leave them all stretched out.



Image via Crate and Barrel.

Now all your clothes are clean, but how to dry them?? We Americans might be spoiled and used to having a dryer, but most other countries make do without, so why shouldn’t we? If you have a backyard and a clothesline, that’s obviously your best choice.

If drying outside isn’t an option, you can hang clothes anywhere. On doors, on shower curtain rods, but honestly, it might be worth it just to order a drying rack, which will make this whole process a lot easier. Otherwise you may have to dry your clothes in small batches, or stack them on top of one another, which will just slow down the drying process.

Let your clothes hang dry completely before you throw them back on…. again, as we denim fans know, putting on a piece of wet clothing can cause it to bag out in weird places and make you end up with a less flattering fit.



DON’T DO THIS. Image via Youtube.

The bottom line is, we should all be staying indoors right now but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo having clean clothes!

There’s no need to overthink any of these steps, just get your stuff clean as much as possible and as often as possible.

And try to stay calm and enjoy the slower pace of all this. Enjoy your music and the safe space of your home. Things will return to normal eventually, but be patient and mellow. All will be well and your clothes will be clean.

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