How long does it take to wash clothes by hand?

Welcome to GrayLineParis Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support!

In all honesty, there is no single answer to this question. This is not to confuse the reader, but it’s just a fact that unlike washing machines that have specific programs and fixed wash time, the time spent on manual wash depends on different factors, or rather, many factors.

This article will safely assume that, by the word “wash” you mean, “wash and rinse”. So we’ll be discussing how much time to takes to wash and rinse your clothes by hands.

If you need to know how many times you can wash with a washing machine each day, kindly checkout this article.

How long it takes to wash clothes by hand depends a these factors:

  • The pace and efficiency of the washer
  • The amount of clothes in question
  • The intensity of dirt on the clothes
  • The type and size of garments been washed
  • The presence or absence of stubborn stains
  • The container size where the washing is done
  • The availability of washing resources.

But so that the search engine gods will find this article and rank it well enough for you to find it, I’ll answer this question in a more generalized form:

If you soak a set of clothes for 30 minutes (15 – 30 minutes is the recommended time by most detergent companies), you carefully scrub each cloth for 3 minutes (This includes paying attention to collars, cuffs, waistbands etc), and rinse for an extra 2 minutes, it means that a single cloth will take about 5 minute to wash and rinse, add this to the initial 30 minutes of soak time. 

Let’s assume that you have a big sink, or a bucket, and there is enough water and detergent. Also assume that you soak a minimum of 10 clothes at a time.

Now if we go back to the 5 minutes wash time per dress or garment, this means that it will take 50 minutes to wash and rinse 10 clothes. Add this to the 30 minute wash time and we’ll have 

(5*10) + 30 minutes = 80 minutes

But my wife just said that washing 10 clothes for 80 minutes is way too much. Well, as a slow but delibrate worker, I spend more than that on my major attires, 

Also I soak more clothes at a time when washing, especially when there is much clothes to wash.

This brings us back to the answer: it depends.

Since nobody likes to hear “it depends” as an answer to any questioned asked on the web, we’ll discuss the different factors that can influence hand-wash time, then give a detailed context to this simple but intriguing question.

Factors that influence the time it takes to wash clothes by hand 

  1. The pace and efficiency of the washer
  1. The amount of clothes in question
  1. The intensity of dirt on the clothes
  1. The type and size of garments been washed
  1. The presence or absence of stubborn stains
  1. The container size where the washing is done
  1. The availability of washing resources

The pace and efficiency of the washer

If you live in Africa or some third world country, chances are, you are used to washing clothes by hands. Even those with a washing machine still find themselves washing with hands for different reasons.

To a person like this washing a garment for 5 minutes, as discussed at the intro of this article, is a waste of precious time.

Those in first world countries on the other hand, or those in the upper class in their respective economy, on the other hand, will find themselves struggling to meeting the sample time frame given.

This simple analogy exemplifies the fact that the efficiency of the human washer has a lot to play in determining how long it will take to wash a fixed amount of laundry by hand.

It might be presumptious to say, but someone searching this question on the internet is probably doing some research or is simply not a pro at hand-washing. 

For someone like this, 5 minutes per dress, is a good good time to alot to washing and rinsing one cloth.

Also different in the same economy strata and geographical region might have different abilities when doing work. 

For me, I’m slow and delibrate when working. Many of my loved ones are rather fast. In that case, we’ll take different time to wash the same set of clothes by hand.

The amount of clothes in question

How long does it take to wash clothes by hand

This is an obvious factor to consider. If you ask ‘how long it takes to wash clothes by hand?’ you probably should indicate the number of clothes in question. Because, it will naturally take a longer time to wash 50 clothes, than it will to wash 5 clothes.

In the example at the introduction, we had to choose a number: 10, so we can make comparism and analysis.

The intensity of dirt on the clothes

Another important factor to consider is how dirty the clothes are. 

Naturally is it a course of wisdom to spend less time wash slightly dirty clothes than when washing very dirty ones.

This will also affect the amount of time you soak the clothes.

If i were to wash a dress I wore to work or religious once, I’ll like only soak the dress for 10-15 minutes and wash it very slightly. Often I just scrub the collars, wrist and waist band. After this is a general scrub of the entire dress for 1 or 2 minutes, and I rinse..

Going by this example, I’ll spend no more than 40 minutes to soak, wash and rinse the same 10 clothes used as an example at the beginning of this article.

The type and size of garments been washed

The time it takes to wash a denim short will definitely be more than what it takes to wash a grey singlet or wash still a hankerchief.

Also people tend to spend more time washing bright colored dresses than they do when washing darker dresses.

What’s the point? When estimating the time it takes to wash clothes, it is important to understand that, no single estimate can determine the wash time for different fabrics type, clothes size and color.

Thicker fabrics tend to take more time to wash with hands. The same can be said of bigger dresses, when compared to their smaller counterparts.

And as mentioned earlier, brighter clothes, tend to need more wash time to regain their brilliance.

The presence or absence of stubborn stains

Similar to the intensity of dirts on laundry clothes, is the presence of stains. A simple rule is, the presence of stains on a dress, automatically changes the washing equation.

Then the type of stains, makes it even more difficult to predict how long it will take to get it off the dress, or whether it will ever clear off completely.

In many cases, one wash is not even enough to completely clear off a stubborn stain.

The container size where the washing is done

Remember at the outset, we estimated 30 minutes to soak 10 clothes. What we didn’t mention is the fact that, the same 30 minutes can be used to soak 30 clothes.

This depend, to a great extent, the size of the washing bucket. A 20 liters bucket, for instance, will contain less clothes than a 45 liters. This inturn will contain far less than a cloth washing sink.

So, factoring in the size of the washing container will play a big role in deciding how much time you spend in washing different amount of clothes.

The availability of washing resources

If you live in the U.S, UK or some other first world nations, you might not understand this simple fact: the availability, can determine how much clothes you launder, and how much time you spend washing.

If you live where water is gold, you can only afford to soak a limited amount of clothes at a time. This will enable to wash more clothes with less water. 

But on the other hand, you’ll spend more time washing those clothes.


The internet is not the best place to determine how much time you can spend washing clothes by hands. 

This is because hand-wash is a very personal task, and flunctuate from person to person.

But I hope I’ve been able to give you a faint idea of how much time you should schedule when planning to wash clothes with hands.

Or maybe I’ve done the very opposite, completely confuse you further.

But one thing is sure, rather than present some online guesswork as a fact, I’ve decided to write this article in a very personal format. So that, after all said and done, the points in this articles, are not facts, but rather an opinion.

So, how long does it take to wash clothes by hand?

The short answer to this 1000+ word article is: IT DEPENDS.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *