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What are the best washer and dryer settings for delicate laundry?

And…why are there so many options?

We’ve all seen the different cycle settings on our washing machines and dryers, but how many of us actually understand what each of them means? What’s the actual difference between all these washer and dryer settings?

Washer and Dryer Settings for Delicate Laundry

Modern washing machines handle delicate laundry much better than the washers of the past. The same goes for modern dryers. Compared to their counterparts from even a few years ago, these modern machines are quieter, more efficient, more customizable, and much more delicate on your laundry.

Unfortunately, modern clothing manufacturers are also making increasing delicate clothing. Some of these garments are intentionally delicate. However, some of these are simply poorly made as affordable fashion brands continue pushing fast fashion.

As a laundry service, we love laundry. But, we hate that clothing manufacturers are capitalizing by intentionally selling cheaper, and oftentimes more delicate clothing.

So, what are the best washer and dryer settings for delicate laundry? We’ll gladly teach you everything you need to know here. The tips also work for cheap fast fashion. But, often times we’ve noticed that even the best care can’t offset the manufacturer’s intentionally short garment lifespan. 

Washer and Dryer Settings for Delicate Laundry

Hand Washing vs. Machine Washing

When washing delicates, hand washing them is typically the best option to protect the garment. However, it’s comes at the cost of a less thorough clean. Hand washing allows you to better control the temperature, the amount of agitation, and the amount of pressure used at each stage of the cleaning process. But it what makes it delicate is also what causes the less thorough cleaning.

Hand washing has it’s place for some special garments. But, modern washing machines offer a delicate cycle that is quite delicate!

Washing machines typically include a “delicates” cycle, allowing you to save time and energy on hand washing. These cycles are custom programmed washer cycles that use cold water, dispense more water, spin slower, have a shortened extraction cycle.

Whatever you choose, we appreciate that you’re taking the time to properly care for your delicate laundry. Don’t forget to browse our laundry detergent recommendations for delicate laundry.

Washing Delicates in a Washing Machine

Simply put – the Delicates Cycle on a washing machine uses lots of cold water and a low spin speed.

The major difference between delicate and normal wash cycles is agitation or tumbling speed. Compared to normal wash cycles which use higher agitation or tumbling speeds for casual items, delicate wash cleans items using low agitation or tumbling speeds, along with cold water, for gentle cleaning and reduced wrinkling.

The cycle also uses a bit more water since it’s more of a soak than a wash.

Washer and Dryer Settings for Delicate Laundry | 2ULaundry


45 minute soak




Add Detergent


Low Spin Rate

Have You Ever Tried Hand Washing?

Hand washing sounds like…a lot of work.

You’re picturing an old fashioned wash board that takes some elbow grease and a big bucket of water. Not only is there no time for that, there is no space for that either.

Hand washing is glorified soaking. Soaking your delicates before doing a light scrub will help ease out any stains and will help get the fabric clean. You really don’t need to scrub it much if you’re using detergent. Next time you see a Hand Wash garment – don’t sweat. It’s quite simple.

Laundry that has been soaking in detergent for 45 minutes will be mostly clean. That’s about as long as a typical washing machine cycle.

Cleaning requires four things: time, temperature, chemistry, and agitation. 

Here are the cleaning requirements for hand washing your delicate laundry:


45 minute cycle




Add Detergent


Light, Occasional Scrub

Your laundry is personal.

Unlike other laundry delivery service options, we operate our production facilities through our laundromat brand, LaundroLab. We know laundry. We love laundry. And we’re really, really good at it!

Our drivers and laundry staff are professional, full-time W2 employees. No contractors, no gig-workers, no unlivable wages, and no confusion about who is actually doing your laundry.

We’re a laundry service you can trust!

Washer and Dryer Settings for Delicate Laundry

Hang Dry vs. Tumble Dry

Hang dry is a general term. Not all garments can be hung to dry. Some require being laid flat to dry. Others need to be tumbled.

Be careful when choosing how to air-dry your garments. Some garments can dry by hanging on a hanger. However, drying on a hanger can damage heavier garments, like sweaters, because the weight of the damp fabric uses gravity to pull and stretch the garment down. A safer bet is to ‘flat-dry’ your garments by laying them flat to dry on a perforated surface.

However, if you have a dryer with an air-dry or air-fluff-only setting, you could place your delicate garments in mesh bags and dry them for half a cycle (making sure to check the clothing label first to ensure this is okay), then lay your items flat or on a line to dry, away from direct sunlight.

Hang & Air Tumble

Hang dry your garments until they are mostly dry. 

The “Tumble Temp” is what we call the point when the garments reaches about 80% dry (20% moisture rating). At that point, move the garment(s) to the tumble dryer and tumble on Air Dry/No Heat for 6-8 minutes.

Note – When choosing a hanger, avoid cheap hangers that can produce dimples. Often times, hangers put strain on the garment and can misshape it. We recommend laying garments flat to dry – on a towel laid on a flat surface.

Extended Air Tumble

Most modern dryers have “Air Dry” settings. This means the temperature of the air blowing is actually room temperature. 

Most garments can be tumbled in a dryer with no heat. It might take a while – that’s why we call it “extended.” A pair of jeans will take a long time to dry with no heat.

The tumble prevents any residual moisture from making it’s way to your closet. You don’t want your closet gradually smelling like mildew. That’s why we recommend – whichever way you choose – that you tumble your garments.

Delicate Laundry Service | 2ULaundry

Delicate Laundry Bag

The Delicates Bag is perfect for your wash & fold garments that need gentle wash and low-temperature or air dry.

For some people, it’s a few pairs of their favorite jeans. For others, it’s bras, underwear, and leggings. The garments in this bag are getting specialized and separated treatment from the rest of your order.

Delicate Bag for Hang Dry | 2ULaundry | Delicate Laundry Service
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