The Only Lingerie & Delicates Wash Guide You’ll Need

The Only Lingerie & Delicates Wash Guide You’ll Need

Lingerie like bras, panties, shapewear, silk, and lace intimates are investment pieces in our wardrobe. They help protect our outer garments from body oils and fluids while supporting, sculpting and creating more flattering silhouettes in our favourite outfits. That's why washing delicates and lingerie and cleaning them correctly is critical to help improve their longevity, structure and shape. Wash lingerie using the tips and tricks in this guide to keep them looking beautiful for the years to come. Let's dive in.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you wash lingerie and shapewear?

It's a good idea to wash delicates like bras after every 2-4 wears. Think of them as your jeans. While you can get away without washing them after every wear, they need looking after and cleaning after a few uses. If you're working out in your bras or sweating profusely because of hot and humid weather, wash your bra after every wear. Sweat will wear down the bra's elastic, which means washing can help improve your bra's lifespan. Underwear like panties, which come in direct contact with our body fluids, will need washing after every use.

Should delicates be washed separately in a washing machine?

Wash your delicate underwear and bras separately from your standard laundry. Cutting corners and cleaning on the wrong cycle could cause permanent damage.

What are lingerie wash bags?

These are mesh bags that you can use to separate your delicates and lingerie from the rest of your laundry. Lingerie bags come in handy when you only have a few pairs to wash but not enough to run an entire cycle for underwear.

What temperature to wash underwear?

Wash in warm to cold water at a maximum temperature of 40 degrees C. Some delicates need a lower water temperature, so check the garment care label.

How should I wash shapewear?

Wash Spanx and shapewear only in cool water. Check the care label to determine if you can clean your shapewear in the washing machine. Avoid tumble drying, as this could affect its elasticity.

How to wash lingerie?

How to wash lingerie

Clean underwear and bras are life essentials. And if careless while machine or hand washing them, you can quickly wear out their elasticity, colour and durability. That's why we've covered the washing essentials below, breaking down the steps based on whether you choose to hand or machine wash. As a rule of thumb, start by sorting out your underwear. If you're washing bras, sort them by material. For instance, push-up bras, lace bras and supportive underwires should be washed by hand, while sports bras and non-wiry cotton intimates are good to machine wash.

How to hand wash underwear?

Handwashing is gentle on your lingerie and underwear, making cleaning your undergarments the most preferred way. If you want to learn how to hand wash bras and underwear, read and follow the steps below.

  • Step 1: To soak the underwear and bras, you'll need a washing container - like a bucket, sink basin or plastic tub.
  • Step 2: Fill this tub or basin with warm (not hot) water with a tablespoon of mild detergent. Next, drop your panties and bras in.
  • Step 3: Swish your delicates for a little while to ensure the water and detergents work their way into the fabric. Leave to soak for about 10-15 mins.
  • Step 4: Drain the soap water and clean the basin or bucket. Use your hands to remove soap and detergent from the bras without squeezing or wringing them too hard.
  • Step 5: Remove your delicates from the water and remove all extra water without squeezing too hard.
  • Step 6: Air dry your bras on a flat surface or hang them on a clothesline or hanger.

Delicates wash tip

Mild detergent is a great idea. But, it may also be worthwhile investing in a specially formulated lingerie wash for a gentler rinse.

How to wash delicates in a washing machine?

While machine washing will wear our bras and underwear faster and handwashing is highly recommended, sometimes it's the only option. If you want to reduce wear and tear during a machine wash, use the following precautions.

  • Always use a lingerie/mesh/wash bag.
  • Read the garment's care instructions. This will tell you how to wash delicates in the washing machine. If machine washing is not recommended, stick to hand washing only.
  • Always set your washing machine to the correct cycle and water temperature. This information will also be available on the care tag.
  • Remove all washed clothes from the washer and put them out to dry immediately to avoid mould, mildew growth, and any stale odours.
  • If you're machine washing bras, hook your bras shut before placing them inside the lingerie wash bag. This will protect the elastic on your bra straps from getting stretched out.
  • Avoid putting your delicates and bras in the dryer. The heat will damage the elastic and cause your garments to lose their bounce and elasticity over time.
  • Where possible, refrain from fabric softeners, which can leave harmful residues. This is especially true for all delicate underwear.

Best ways to wash different underwear types

How to wash underwear

Cotton underwear

Sort by colour. Separate dark-coloured underwear from lighter ones and wash separately. Machine wash on a warm/ cold gentle cycle and hang dry.

Microfibre and synthetic fabrics

For any underwear composed of nylon, spandex or polyester, washing in cold-to-warm water on a regular cycle is highly recommended, with air drying after.

Lingerie, sheer and mesh undergarments

Hand wash when in doubt, especially anything silky or lacy. If the garment's care tag says it's okay to machine wash, do so only on the most delicate cycle. Zip these garments in a protective mesh bag and wash them in cold to warm water.

5 quick tips on how to wash lingerie

  • Tip #1: Separate your underwear from the rest of your laundry before washing them. This step is essential because it will protect the delicate fabrics from damage and prevent bacterial transfer.
  • Tip #2: If you're curious and want to learn how to clean your delicates, the best place to start is from the item's label. Follow the manufacturer's washing instructions because the last thing you want to do is ruin your favourite bra or panty because you didn't wash your delicates correctly.
  • Tip #3: If there are stains on your lingerie, apply a stain remover or detergent by rubbing it into the stained fabric. You can also use baking soda on the affected areas until the stain disappears. Remember to pre-treat any stains before throwing them into a washer.
  • Tip #4: Always turn your delicates inside out before placing them inside the mesh washing bag. Choose to run your washing machine on the lowest spin cycle to avoid damage.
  • Tip #5: Take time to soak your delicates in cold or mildly warm water before you wash. This investment of time will pay off, helping easily break stains and other dirt. A good soak is always your first line of defence against stains, saving your garments the usual wear and tear.

How to fold and store your underwear perfectly?

If one thing rings true for most of us, it's that our underwear drawers are generally messy and cluttered. Our bras, socks, tights and panties end up tangled together. Discover our tips guide to folding underwear and lingerie and keeping them organised.

How to fold underwear

  • Lay the underwear flat in front of you
  • Fold lengthwise by taking the crotch or lower section of the underwear to the waistband. This will fold your panty in half.
  • Take the left side of the underwear and fold it back to the centre. Do the same for the right side.
  • Lastly, lift the left side and fold till it meets the right side and voila! You're done.

How to fold bras

Is there anything better than opening an organised lingerie drawer and seeing your gorgeous collection perfectly folded like an in-store display? Keeping your lingerie drawer organised will help you get ready in the morning, and it can protect your bras, too.

Folding non-padded, sports & non-wire bras

  • Place the bra face down on a flat surface.
  • Hide the straps by folding them down. This will create a rectangle. Doing this will keep your straps tucked in and prevent them from getting tangled in the drawer.
  • Next, fold the bra in half, with one cup tucked inside the other, and you're done! To make it tidier, or if you're short on space, fold the bra in thirds.

Folding moulded, push-up or underwire bras

  • Clasp the hooks first and lay the bra flat.
  • Stack bras in a way that the cups of each bra rest on the cups of the bra beneath it.
  • Protect the cups by stuffing socks under the cups of the bottommost bra. This will help preserve their shape and protect the cups from caving inward.
  • Alternatively, you could fold your bras by placing one cup into the other and protect them underneath with a sock.

Bra organisation tip

Drawer inserts can be a great addition to your lingerie drawer- you could use them to arrange your bras into categories, such as everyday, t-shirt, fancy, and sport, or by colour for a pretty rainbow effect.

How often should you buy new bras?

If you're buying good-quality lingerie, it should last you around two years before it needs to be replaced. The key is to have at least three or four everyday bras on rotation, so you have plenty of time to wash and dry between wears. Sports bras may need to be replaced more often, particularly if you've been doing high-impact exercise.

Keep an eye out for signs of wear and tear, such as fraying fabric, bent or missing hooks, or escaping underwires. It's also a good idea to reassess your bra size regularly, especially if you've gained or lost weight or if you're expecting a baby.

And when it's time to say goodbye to your favourite bra, don't chuck it in the landfill bin! There are several charities that collect bras for women in need, or if it's too dodgy to donate, you may be able to send it off for recycling. Alternatively, if you're feeling crafty, you could even upcycle it into a bustier or sew it into a strapless dress - there are heaps of tutorials online to inspire you.

The only delicates wash guide

Washing delicates like bras and other lingerie is easier with a handy list of steps and techniques. If you're in the market to shop for bras and want to get your fit right, this bra sizing and fitting guide is all you'll need. We've also got a women's underwear guide to help you with topics around sizing, comfort and care. For more inspiration, don't forget to check out our Fashion Hub.