Most children have that one special item that goes everywhere with them, gets as dirty as they do, and is almost impossible to take away from them to wash. Even when it’s not delicate, it’s always precious, which means washing it with extreme care. In Hannah’s case there are more than 10 of these items – her friendship bracelets.

Hannah is eight-and-three-quarters, and absolutely mad about friendship bracelets. She and her friends can’t get enough of them. What they do, nearly every weekend, is get together at one of their houses and sit making them while they gossip about school. They’re not technically supposed to wear the bracelets at school, but Hannah wears hers almost all the time, mostly hidden under her sleeves. As the older bracelets have got looser and looser they’ve worked their way up towards her elbow, while the newer additions sit on her wrist and pretty much hold the others on.

Hannah hates having to take her friendship bracelets off in order to keep them clean, but her mum insists that they are washed from time to time. And mum knows – because Hannah reminds her often – that the bracelets are precious, and must be washed with extreme care. Each bracelet, says Hannah, is special for a different reason, and there’s a story behind each one.

Special memories

Two friendship bracelets, for example, are souvenirs of a family holiday. A friend Hannah met at the beach found a shell and gave it to her. It was the perfect starting point for a bracelet, incorporated with a local currency coin. This bracelet, Hannah says, is a symbol of that holiday. It is the holiday, she tells her mum, in bracelet form.

Another one has lots of beads woven into it. It’s actually on its second life already after the original broke during a softball game and the beads flew everywhere. Hannah spent ages hunting for the lost beads in the grass, and the ones she found she worked into another bracelet. It’s the fact that it’s been reborn that makes this one so precious.

Wash with love

Hannah’s mum has worked out how to wash and look after the bracelets, and Hannah has approved her mum’s methods. Since many of the bracelets are quite delicate, she dips them into a bowl of lukewarm water with Breeze. If one of the friendship bracelets has a stain, which happens quite a lot – ink from homework, sauce from dinnertime, grass and mud from the park – she eases it out with a damp cloth, toothbrush or cotton bud and Breeze, or she’ll just freshen them up with a good soak in a 4:1 or 3:1 solution of baking soda in water to get rid of smells. This works well, Hannah agrees. The less fragile – but by no means less precious –  friendship bracelets such as those without decorations can go in the washing machine. What Hannah’s mum very cleverly does is pin them inside a pillowcase, bag or pocket so that they don’t get lost amongst the rest of the laundry. Hannah’s mum knows how much trouble she’d be in if they did.

Made with friends

Hannah found out from doing some reading that the art of knot tying, or macramé, is centuries old, so the hobby that she and her friends enjoy is actually a really ancient one. It’s been practiced all around the world by Arabian weavers, Native Americans, European sailors, and Chinese craftsmen, before girls like Hannah used it as a way of cementing friendships, holding on to memories, or just making something fun, bright and decorative. Hannah wonders whether  the mums of those original bracelet weavers took as much care over washing their handiwork as hers does. For more washing tips visit washing tips & tricks – and for more info on removing particular stains, visit Solve Your Stain section.

Does your child have a special item that has to be washed with love? We’d love to hear about it – what are your tips for keeping it clean and in tip-top condition?