How to Wash Delicates and Bras

Take care when washing your bras and other delicate items.
Take care when washing your bras and other delicate items. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

If you don’t take extra care when washing and drying delicates and bras, you could end up with ruined or deformed items. Bras and other undergarments are worn often, so they can lose elasticity quickly. Taking proper care of these items can help prolong their life.

Things You'll Need

  • Gentle detergent
  • Garment bag
  • Towel
  • Socks (optional)

Use a lingerie bag or mesh fabric bag when washing delicates in the washing machine. Though hand-washing lingerie is the safest route, it is not always the most efficient. Many types of lingerie, including some silks, are quite sturdy. More caution is necessary with lace and satin.

Connect bra hooks and eyelets together before washing them in the washing machine and avoid washing these garments with other clothes to minimize twisting and tangling. When washed on the delicate cycle, unpadded bras without underwire generally fare well. Padded bras are best washed by hand or washed in the machine on the gentle cycle. Be sure to remove them before the spin cycle.

Wash delicates and bras using cold or cool water whenever possible. Soak for 15 to 30 minutes and rub together durable areas, such as bra elastic, when needed. Optionally, agitate the lingerie in a washing machine for five minutes.

Use small amounts of lingerie-friendly detergent when washing your delicates. Borax works well for hand washing, otherwise use laundry detergent designed for cold water.

Rinse any padded lingerie until you can gently squeeze the padding without seeing signs of soap residue. If you have used too much soap, rinse the garment in the washing machine but remove it prior to the spin cycle.

Avoid the dryer in most cases to keep the fabrics and elastic looking new. For delicates, other than bras, lay the washed and rinsed garment on a towel and roll it up to remove excess water. Repeat if necessary. Then, dry flat on a rack or hang. For bras, gently squeeze excess water and hang to dry. Alternatively, stuff the bra with socks rolled into a ball shape to absorb excess water and lay cup size up on a towel to dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • Minimize hand wringing to avoid damage to lingerie. This can be more harmful than the washing machine.
  • Defer to garment care tag instructions when in doubt.
  • Defer to garment care tag instructions when in doubt.

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