빨다, 감다, 씻다, 닦다, 훔치다, 세탁하다 – Korean Words vs Words #12

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With Explanation

We should be clean. Being dirty can cause many diseases. To be clean, Koreans use 6 words: 빨다, 감다, 씻다, 닦다, 훔치다, 세탁하다. We will learn these words one by one.

빨다

빨다 is used with clothing. It is not used in other context. Almost 10 years ago, when I was listening to an English show in EBS, Educational Broadcasting System in Korea. I heard that one native English teacher shared her mistakes when learning Korean. She didn't know the difference between 빨다 and 감다 and once said "머리를 빨다." Koreans never say like that.

옷을 빨기는 해야겠는데 너무 많아서 뭐부터 해야 할지 모르겠다.
I should do the laundry, but I don't know where to start because there are too many clothes.

흰 옷과 검정 옷은 섞어서 빨면 안 된다.
White clothes and black ones should not be washed together.

씻다

씻다 is used when you clean something with usually water or other liquid.

손 씻고 밥 먹어라.
Wash your hands before you eat.

발은 매일매일 잊지 말고 씻도록 해라.
Don't forget to wash your feet everyday.

제인은 몇 년 전만 해도 김치를 물에 씻어 먹었는데 요즘은 그러지 않는다.
Jane washed Kimchi with water a few years ago, but she doesn't do that recently.

감다

감다 is special verb for the hair. It is only used when you wash your hair. Actually, there was one more case for 감다 before. It is 미역을 감다. It has nothing to do with washing seaweed for the meal. It means to take a bath. It is really old fashioned and no one uses it in daily conversation these days. Everyone uses 목욕하다 to take a bath or 샤워하다 to take a shower. You can find that expression in some old literature or some books that cover old generations in Korea.

저는 이틀에 한 번씩 머리를 감습니다.
I wash my hair once in two days.

머리 감을 때 샴푸 뭐 써요?
Which shampoo do you use to wash your hair?

닦다

When you wipe something out with clothes or brushes, it is 닦다 in Korean.

전반전이 끝나자, 선수들은 수건으로 땀을 닦아냈다.
After the end of first half, the athletes wiped their sweat with towels.

손등으로 눈물을 닦아내고, 그녀는 다시 글을 쓰기 위해 펜을 잡았다.
She wiped her tears with the back of her hand, and grabbed the pen to write again.

훔치다

Particularly, if you clean some liquid or dust with clothes, it is sometimes called 훔치다. As it sounds like stealing something, it is less common than 닦다.

행주 줄 테니까 상 좀 훔쳐라.
I will give you a dishcloth. Please clean the table with it.

의자 위에 쏟아진 우유를 깨끗이 훔쳤다.
I cleaned the milk spilled on the chair.

In cases above, you can use 닦다 in the place of 훔치다.

닦다 can be used with clothing, too. However, they don't mean the same action. If you say 운동화를 닦다 or 가방을 닦다, then you cleaned the cover or surface of 운동화 or 가방 with clothes or tissue. If you say 운동화를 빨다 or 가방을 빨다, you put your 운동화 or 가방 into the water with some detergent.

세탁하다

It was a long journey, our final word for washing is 세탁. It is the synonym of 빨다. It is only used when washing clothing especially with a machine. If you wash your clothes with your hands, it is called 손빨래.

세탁 맡긴 것 찾아와야겠는데, 언제 가지?
I should get back the laundry at the cleaner's. When should I go?

손빨래보다는 세탁기가 확실히 편하긴 하지.
Washing machine is definitely more convenient than hand washing.