Washing Bras & other Lingerie – 4 point checklist

Bras, briefs and panties made of lace, satin and other delicate fabrics, fine hosiery, corsets, swim wear, suspender belts – all these fine lingerie makes you look and feel truly beautiful. Like anything of beauty, they take some work to maintain. You need to treat it with appropriate care for it to retain its shape and softness.

Lingerie takes its beatings mostly when it is washed, so proper care when washing and drying can prevent a lot of  damage – in the form of thread snags, fabric going hard, hooks missing, underwire getting loose, tearing at the seams, the sponge in the pad loosing softness and shape  etc.

After paying the kind of money today’s lingerie costs, you would want it to last, wouldn’t you ?

washing bras

Ideally, How to hand wash very delicate lingerie

If you have lingerie which is very delicate. hand wash them with the mildest of detergent ; Fill a bucket wih cold water and drop some liquid detergent in it . Mix thoroughly and drop your lingerie. Soak for five minutes. Rinse througouly.Take them out ; very gently squeeze agianst the sides of the bucket to remove  water,  then roll them in towel to remove excess water; The whole process can last no more than 5 minutes, ideally

Reshape the lingerie if it is distorted in the wash. You can hang them on a line to dry. But to be more careful dry flat away from direct heat or sunlight

In the washing machine, I would definitely not put any of my lingerie straight down. They need some protection from the rough tumble inside. The Bra Bag to the rescue.

Check out the tutorial to make  a bra wash bag and make it – it is very easy to make and worth it and more.

lingerie wash bag


In more detail  on washing and caring for your bras and other underwear

1 Buying quality lingerie

Buy lingerie from brands which have proven to be durable and colourfast. Buying quality underwear is the first step in maintaining them. It is not in buying the costliest , but the best quality product and then caring for them properly henceforth that will ensure that you donot break bank wearing beautiful things inside . You may have to kiss a lot of frogs before you get  to know the best fit and quality product.

Get underwear that fits. Donot think that smaller underwear will make you look less fat, more fit or whatever. It won’t. It will cause unnecessary bulges and damage your underwear as the fabric is stretched at the seams and edges

Buy and wear appropriate fabric for your body type. If you have a condition like say a yeast infection, or it is that time for your monthly cycle, donot buy/wear silk underwear. It will stain and the stain will not go away, as you cannot use any stain removers on silk. A cotton underwear will suit you better and can be washed thouroughly; It can even be bleached lightly to make sure the germs are fully gone

Some lingerie needs handwashing. If you are in no position to hand wash these items or line dry them, forget about owning some of these most delicate of clothes like a full lace thong

2 Read the fine print

I mean, read the care labels in your lingerie.

Do follow the recommendations given in the care label ( they may be with the prize tag or attached as a clothing label to the clothing item or on the package cover) as much as possible. The manufacturer of your lingerie has put them there, after considering the fabric and the type of construction of your lingerie

The most important thing to look for is whether any step among the washing, drying, bleaching, ironing,  dry cleaning is marked with an X in the care label. This means that you SHOULD NOT do that.The most common laundry care symbols on lingerie are,  as in the picture below.

washing bras

You have to have a basic knowledge of the laundry care symbols and their meaning, for proper garment care. Check out the post on laundry care / washing symbols for more details on them.Some of the most common signs you will find on your lingerie ( other than the ones indicated above) are as follows

This symbol means garment is machine and hand washable.The temperature Nos suitable will be indicated inside the tub
laundry care symbol washing lingerie9This means that the item needs to be delicately handled. Wash in delicate cycle in your washing machine without too much clothes ; Donot use fast spin.
Donot buy lingerie with this symbol. You cannot wash it
You can iron this item; The temperature will be indicated
This item may be drycleaned
laundry care symbol washing lingerie2This item can be tumble dried
Donot wring
Dry flat
Drip Dry
Dry in shade
Bleach if needed


3 Washing products and equipment

The regular washing powder you use to wash clothes may have bleach-like agents and whitening agents in them which will deteriorate fine  fabric. Use a mild liquid detergent for washing lingerie, instead of washing powders. They are less harsh and donot make the fabric of the lingerie hard over time .

If  the lingerie is made of silk, do use the mildest of the mild – maybe even the baby shampoo to hand wash the clothing ( sometimes item may only be meant to be dry cleaned and you can try this; the upkeep cost of dry cleaning is much too much)

Use only as much detergent as needed ; not more ; not less. Too much is not going to clean more . It will simply ruin fabric.

Donot use hot water to wash delicate fabric of your lingerie . Cold water is more than enough, especially if you are using liquid detergent. The delicate foam in the bras ( in the padded bras / contoured bras) will be damaged by hot water

If your lingerie says “No bleach”, this means, no stain removing products either.

If you want to use the washing machine to wash lingerie always use the bra wash bag. I always do and this has prevented my lingerie from snags with other clothes, thread popups etc.

Usually, you should not use chlorine bleach on lingerie. But if you have white cotton underwear you can use bleaching products on them. A drop of the blueing product will also keep your white underwear white as white ( no more dreaded yellow shade)

4 Washing and drying process

Sunscreens, skin oils and sweat – these can damage fabric fibers if left for a long time . so wash lingerie as soon as possible after wearing- Donot wait for your staple ‘once-a-fortnight’ washing  or worse – till you run out of fresh underwear to wash them.

Always hook up bras  before putting them to wash

Today’s synthetic fabrics donot bleed. But to be on the safe side, wash colours and light coloured ones separately.

Choose the delicate cycle in your washing machine. The delicate fabrics donot need the fast and hard tumble regular washing cycle.

For underwear that is soiled or has a stain simply soak them for  10 minutes in a detergent solution and most stains will go away. If it is a fresh blood stain, a simple rub in running water will remove the stain but for hardened blood stains  you may have to soak.

Drying lingerie – I have seen that the regular lingerie survives a fast spin in the washing machine inside a bra washing bag but it may not tolerate a tumble in the dryer.  The heat in the dryer makes the fabric of the bra go hard. Whenever possible line dry your lingerie.

After the wash, before hanging to dry, reshape the foam to the proper shape. The contouring foam will otherwise dry in the exact shape that it was when wet

More on Garment Care here.



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