Well, if you're rich, you take them to the dry cleaners. If you're poor (or worried about the chemicals in dry cleaning), you wash them by hand.
Now that's not a big deal when you have a skirt or two and a fancy top. But me? I've got a closet full of costumes, embellished clothing, chunky sweaters, formal dresses and more --- none of which can be put in the machine. That means that every month or so (when I'm keeping up on laundry, that is), I have to turn the bathroom into a washroom. The sink isn't nearly big enough to accommodate anything, so instead I fill up the tub. And boy, when you're washing a Renaissance skirt made of brocade that clothing can get heavy!
Our foremothers were a lot tougher than us, because they did ALL their clothing by hand every. single. week.
Except in Renaissance days they didn't wash brocade skirts often and just wore lots of undergarments to keep body odor away from fancy fabrics. Yuck. I think I'll deal with the handwashing.