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How to Wash Lingerie and Dry Intimates (Properly)

You’ve found it - the perfect bra that fits like a glove and provides you with the best support. You wear it constantly. So how can you ensure that it lasts as long as possible?

Lingerie hanging from a clothesline
Mentionables Summer 2022 Collection shot by Kristina Bills Photography

Proper washing and handling extend the lifespan of your bras + undies. This is actually true for all clothing care — you hear me? Washing and drying clothing in alignment with proper care instructions will make them last longer!

It’s tempting to toss your delicates in with a regular load of laundry and hope for the best. But is that how we should be treating our booby besties? Of course not! Give your bra the TLC it deserves, and follow these simple care guidelines.

Hand washing a bralette in a sink

How to wash lingerie and properly clean your bras + intimates:

1. Hand washing is the best method for cleaning your delicates. The rough and tumble of a washer can snag lace and stretch out and warp elastics. Not to mention the damage a bra hook and eye can cause to your clothes. Instead, soak your intimates in cold water inside a sink or bucket for 15 minutes. Use a mild detergent, rinse with cold water, and gently wring or squeeze out excess water. If you notice a stain, spot-treat it with a stain remover before you wash.

2. Machine wash as a last resort. When life gets hectic, sometimes the best you can do is throw your bra and undies in with the rest of your clothes. I get it–done is better than perfect. If you must go the machine wash route, remember to place your delicates inside a mesh garment bag and zip it closed. Also, remember to clasp your bra hook and eyes to prevent snagging on your delicate lacey lovelies. Putting your delicates in a mesh wash bag will also prevent your bra straps from becoming a tangled mess. P.S. Never wash with hot water. This will break down your elastics quicker. Instead, wash on a delicate cycle with cold water.

PRO TIP: As a rule of thumb, most bras should be washed after about four wears or more frequently if you have a particularly sweaty day.

Air drying a bralette on a towel

How to properly dry your bra + intimates:

1. Skip the dryer. Heat is incredibly damaging to the elastics in your bra and undies. Machine drying causes the elastic fibers to break down and lose their stretch and recovery much faster than the air drying route will. Nothing is worse than a limp stretched-out bra, so make yours last longer and ditch the dryer!

2. Instead, air dry your skivvies. Lay your bras flat to dry if you have a drying rack so you can reshape any molded cups to ensure they dry properly without getting misshapen or creased. You can also hang your bras from a clothesline or shower curtain rod to dry, just don’t hang them by their straps, instead hang them from the center of the bra with the cups on either side of the clothesline. The weight of a wet bra could cause the elastic to stretch out.

Note that even with gentle usage and care, all bras and undies will lose their shape, elasticity, and support, over time. It's generally recommended that your everyday bras and undies be replaced every 6-12 months.

Underwire poking out from it's casing

So how do you know when it’s time to replace them?

Signs that it’s time to buy new bras and undies:

1. The band is stretched out. The band of your bra should fit snugly around your ribcage, providing most of the support. When you first purchase your bra, you should hover it on the loosest hook. As time goes on and the bra stretches out, you can move to the center hook and then finally the tightest hook. Once you find the tightest hook is too loose, it’s time to replace your bra.

2. Cups are curling or wrinkled. Your bra cups should fit smoothly against your breasts without gaps or wrinkles. If you’re starting to see wrinkles on the cups, or gapping that wasn’t there before, it could result from poor drying practices, the fabric losing its elasticity, or the cups becoming stretched out over time. Either way, it’s time to find a new bra that will provide adequate support and smoothing.

3. The straps suddenly start slipping off your shoulders. Your bra straps should stay in place without digging into your skin. If they are constantly slipping off your shoulders after previously feeling like a good fit, it could be a sign that the elastic has lost its stretch and the bra may need to be replaced. You can try adjusting the straps, but if they still slip or dig in, it's time to replace your bra with a new one with firm and stretchy straps.

4. The underwire is poking out or missing altogether. This is a big no-no in bras! An exposed underwire could cut you. Ouch! Nobody wants to experience that pain. So once your bra loses a wire, it’s time to throw it out. Plus, wearing a lopsided bra can damage your back and neck health.

5. Materials have worn out or faded. If your bra shows signs of wear and tear, such as faded colors, pilling, or thinning fabric, then she’s worn out her welcome and needs to get tossed. Look for areas where your fabric is fraying or pulling away from the elastic edges. You deserve a comfortable and beautiful bra that doesn’t look like it just came out of the trash bin.

Caring for bras and intimates is essential to ensuring they last as long as possible. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can be confident that your delicates will remain beautiful and comfortable while providing maximum support and comfort. So don't wait until it's too late - take care of your bra bestie today and enjoy wearing lingerie that looks great and feels amazing! Your body and wallet will thank you.


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