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How to Wash Clothes in Bathtub: 11 Steps (With Pictures)


While most of us have come to rely on washing machines to clean our clothes, it is crucial to know alternative methods to wash clothes in an emergency. In this case, the most common approach to washing clothes is by hand washing clothes in the bathtub.

This method raises a lot of questions. Is it okay to wash clothes in the bathtub? Can it be harmful to the tub? Do I need to use the sink for this purpose instead?

These questions are valid concerns and will be addressed in this article.

Can You Wash Clothes in The Bathtub?

Yes – it is okay to wash clothes in the bathtub. Bathtubs provide a better surface area and allow a more incredible speed of cold or hot water and a greater volume of water so that you can quickly submerge all of your laundries instead of washing two clothes at a time. This method allows you to dry the clothes more effectively by hanging the laundry over the bathtub, collecting the residual water, and draining it right away.

However, washing a large load of clothes in the bathtub is not recommended as it can lead to complications such as wasting water, difficulty rinsing and draining with too many clothes clogging the drain, and the increasing possibility of colors smearing over one another.

This method can be a great alternative to laundromat or washing machines for a usual laundry load that doesn’t fill the tub.

Reasons To Wash Clothes in The Bathtub

People do laundry in the bathtub for several reasons. Some might do it because of electricity issues or because they can’t afford to pay off electricity bills or afford to buy a washing machine. Some people also do it to improve the environment by cutting back on electricity usage.

You can also opt for the bathtub method if you are traveling and need fresh clothes without spending extra bucks on laundry or prefer to do it yourself. Some fabrics come with a care label instructing users to hand-wash instead of using a washing machine. Bathtubs are better than sinks for these garments due to their better coverage and practicality. One of the gentlest ways to take care of your clothes is by washing them in the bathtub yourself.

Step-By-Step Guide

Before you go off washing clothes in a bathtub, read this step-by-step guide to get an idea of what to do and what not to do. We recommend following this guide carefully to prevent any mishaps! Here are the steps:

Step 1: Thoroughly Clean Your Tub

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Your bathroom is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi due to the favorable moist environment that the constant use of water provides. You may think your bathroom is squeaky clean, but it may be an invisible cesspool of germs without you knowing.

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This is why the first step to washing clothes in the bathtub is to make sure that the space you are using to clean is itself clean. Use an all-purpose cleaner to clean the water and fill up the tub with hot water to pretreat the area.

You can use a sponge to remove stubborn stains or can get rubber gloves that you can use to rub off dirt and residual shampoo or soap.

Step 2: Check Out The Care Label on The Fabric

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Every piece of cloth has different properties and should be cared for in another way. Some fabrics are only meant to be hand-washed due to their delicate nature. Some are not meant to be washed at all and are dry-cleaned instead. Still, others are more resilient and can be treated flexibly.

The point is that you need to do your research first and read the instruction manual before proceeding further. If the care label shows a picture of washing in water, it is your cue to go ahead. If it says “dry-clean only,” don’t make the mistake of putting the clothes in water.

A tip that you should keep in mind is that when it comes to baby clothes, always wash them as separate batches with their own detergent to prevent irritation to the baby’s skin.

Step 3: Separate The Lights From Darks

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A lot of people overlook this step and deeply regret it when their white top is dyed pink because they put it in with a red garment. Don’t make that mistake!

Sort out your laundry according to the colors and fabrics. Light colors can easily take on darker tones if mixed together, so it is preferred to wash all your light colors prior to cleaning the darker shades.

Moreover, check out the fabric of every outfit to see if they are washable or not. Since every garment is different, you need to make sure you are treating them the way they are supposed to be treated.

Step 4: Check the Patency of the Drain Plug

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The next step is to check out if the drain plug in your bathtub works flawlessly. This little thing will prevent the water from the bathtub from draining away so that you will have enough water body to submerge your clothes and wash them as needed comfortably.

By checking the patency of the drain plug beforehand, you can prevent a lot of issues, such as wasting time and water and keeping the water from draining.

Step 5: Set The Water Temperature

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The next step is to set a suitable water temperature that you can comfortably wash the clothes in. water settings also depend on the kind of clothes you are cleaning. Again, care labels provide all the necessary information regarding washing the fabric, so if it is delicate and needs to be washed in cold water, it will be mentioned.

If the care label isn’t there or if it doesn’t say anything about the water, set the water to lukewarm to prevent any damage.

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Step 6: Add The Detergent

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When choosing the detergent, you will have two broad choices – either a powdered detergent or a liquid one. In a bathtub, liquid detergents are preferable as they don’t leave behind a residue as powdered detergents do. They are easily dissolvable and also make a smoother lather that is ideal for washing clothes.

Step 7: Lay The Laundry Down

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The next step is to lay down all the laundry that you need to do in the bathtub. Let the arrangement sit for around 10 to 15 minutes to allow the clothes to soak in the water and detergent effectively.

The advantage of soaking clothes before washing them is that it allows the soap and water to take out the hard dirt adherent to the cloth, which makes it easier for you to clean once you start hand-washing. Soaking will also remove minor stains that don’t need rigorous cleaning.

Step 8: Handwash The Clothes

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All the previous buildup leads us to this moment. Once you have added the detergent and clothes and allowed them to sit in for a while, it is time to begin hand-washing the clothes. Rub the clothes against each other, not too hard but with enough power to get the stains out. As an alternative, you can also get in the tub and start stomping on the clothes. While this is an unusual way to wash clothes, it is certainly effective enough.

After giving the first wash, allow the arrangement to sit for another few minutes.

Step 9: Rotating The Clothes

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Give a final push to your clothes by moving them around in the warm, soapy water in gentle, rhythmic motions. Keep rotating them in the bathtub. Don’t overdo these motions or rub too hard, as it can harm the fabric.

If you are stomping on the clothes instead of hand-washing, flatten the clothing on the floor of the bathtub and stomp on it with both of your feet. Keep doing so for at least 10 minutes.

Step 10: Rinse With Cold Water

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Once you have stomped over the clothes or hand-washed them, check if the clothes are spotless. If you are positive, then it’s time to rinse the clothes one final time with fresh cold water to get all the soap out.

Remove the drain plug to ensure that all the water in the bathtub is drained completely. Reinsert the plug and fill the tub with fresh cold water to rinse the clothes. An alternative is not to replenish the bathtub but use a faucet to sprinkle over the clothes after the tub has been completely emptied.

Keep on rinsing the clothes until you are sure that all of the detergents have been washed out of the clothes and there are no residues. Detergent residues can damage clothes in the long run and can also cause skin irritation or toxicity when you wear them.

Step 11: Dry Up The Clothes

The last step in the guide is to dry the clothes by hanging them up. Before you do that, make sure you have removed all the soap by washing each of the items with water and confirming that the water isn’t sudsy.

Wring the wet clothes and squeeze out as much of the water as you can. This will cut down the drying time to half and will prevent your bathroom from flooding with water by reducing dripping.

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However, it should be noted that wringing the clothes is applicable only to non-delicate fabrics. Delicate fabrics should never be twisted as they can damage garments such as silk. For these garments, it is preferable to squeeze them instead.

Now all you have to do is hang up these clothes and allow them to dry up as soon as possible. Wet clothes that are not instantly dried can grow molds and start smelling bad. So swing your washed clothes on a drying line and keep them from stinking up the entire house.

What To Do If You Don’t Have Detergent?

If you are short of a washing machine, maybe you’re short of a detergent too. So what can you do if you want to wash clothes but have no means to do so? Don’t worry; commercial detergents are not the only ones you can use to get clean clothes.

  • Use hand soap, shampoo, or shower gels as alternatives to detergents. Since they are good enough to clean your body, it makes sense that they are effective in cleaning your clothes too.
  • Lemon juice or baking soda, and vinegar are also good ways to clean your clothes. All you need to do is add half a cup of baking soda to the water when washing the clothes and half a cup of vinegar or lemon juice when rinsing them.
  • A minute amount of dish soap can work wonders for heaps of dirty laundry.

Alternatives to Bathtubs for Washing Clothes

While a bathtub is an excellent alternative to washing clothes in a washing machine, there are other options that you can employ.

Laundry Pod is a fitted spinner for your sink or bathtub that works the same way a salad spinner works. This product allows you to wash clothes with considerably less effort and also saves up electricity.

Portable washbags, initially designed for campers and hikers, are also a minimalistic option for washing clothes. The durable, waterproof bag is filled with water and soap. You can add a few pieces of clothing, which are then squeezed and squished until all of the dirt is gone.


Bathtubs are a great option for people who want to save up on electricity or are traveling and want fresh clothes. While a lot of concerns have been raised about the efficiency of using bathtubs for washing clothes, it is a completely safe practice.

Before beginning, don’t forget to read the care label of the clothes you are washing, and don’t try to wet wash clothes that are meant to be dry cleaned only. Moreover, look into other alternatives to bathtubs for washing clothes to make the process easier for you.

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