If you’ve ever tossed your lingerie in the washing machine out of laziness (it’s OK — we’ve all been there), you probably learned a valuable lesson: Most machines are simply too rough on your unmentionables. Maybe your padded bra straps got tangled, moulded cup bra got misshapen, or the underwire got bent on your plunge bra — or maybe over time, you noticed that the elastic on your panties was stretching out super fast, or the lace got snagged. Regardless, it’s pretty clear that you’re better off washing your bras and panties by hand. Doing so may take a little extra time on your part, but it helps preserve the longevity of your lingerie, allowing you to get maximum wear out of all your favourites.
Of course, hand-washing lingerie requires some special considerations. Follow this guide to properly clean your underthings, thus protecting your precious investments.
Use a special detergent
Buying a specialized detergent for lingerie is well worth the investment. Most traditional detergents are so harsh (remember, they’re made to clean hefty items like towels and bedding) that they can ruin the delicate fabrics lingerie is made of (such as lace, silk, etc.) and cause the elastic to deteriorate. The good news is that since undergarments are very small, you won’t need to use much per “load.”
Embrace the soak
First, be sure to separate your underthings by color — that way you can avoid any dye fiascos, like your eggplant-colored bra bleeding onto your go-to nude one. Fill a basin (or sink) with lukewarm water (or cool if you’re washing brightly colored pieces) and add the lingerie detergent.
Place similarly-coloured delicates into the water and allow them to soak for anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on how soiled they are. Drain the basin or sink and then refill it with water, letting the garments to soak for another 10 minutes or so. You can apply a little bit of detergent to a toothbrush and gently scrub at any stubborn spots or stains. If there are any traces of suds, you can rinse your lingerie again until the water runs clear.
Whatever you do, don’t twist or wring out your lingerie. Instead, remove excess water by gently pressing them between two soft towels. The safest way to dry your bras and panties is to lay them on a towel on a flat surface. Clips can leave indent marks in panties, so laying them flat is advisable. You can hang bras to dry, but not by the straps or you may risk stretching them out. It’s preferable to drape them with the center gore on the hanger and each cup falling to either side.
As long as you use the right detergent, give your pieces a sufficient soak, and dry them with extra care, you’ll keep your go-to undergarments in tip-top shape. So next time you’re tempted to toss your lingerie into the washing machine or dryer, simply follow these steps instead.