How can you wash your bra without damaging it? We know your dirty secret. You want to know how to wash bras in the washing machine even when the instructions say not to do it.
Hey, we get it. Hand-washing lingerie is a pain. We put off the job as long as possible. But now it’s time to put your worries aside. Here’s how to wash bras without ruining them.
- 1 How often should you really wash your bras?
- 2 What do the care instructions say?
- 3 Which detergent is best for washing bras?
- 4 How to wash bras by hand
- 5 How to wash a bra in the washing machine
- 6 How to wash bras in a washing machine without a mesh bag
- 7 How to dry a bra
- 8 What if the bra is still stained after washing?
How often should you really wash your bras?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to how often to wash bras. One is to launder them after every use and the other is to only clean them when they stink. Both ideas have merit.
Lingerie like brassieres is typically made with synthetic fabrics and elastic. It’s more fragile and more prone to breaking down when exposed to harsh detergents and banged around a washer drum. However, exposure to sweat, deodorant, and body oil doesn’t do a bra any favors, either.
So, here’s how it works. If it’s a sports bra, toss it in the laundry right away. The same goes for any bra that’s stained or smelling bad.
Otherwise, let it air out for a day and wear it again. Rotate your bras and wear them on alternating days to extend the time between washes.
What do the care instructions say?
Unless you found a vintage brassiere at the secondhand shop, your bra should have washing instructions. Unfortunately, it might only be printed in emoji-like symbols instead of words.
As a general rule, laundry is usually hand-wash only with mild detergent. That probably means purchasing a product besides what you use in the machine for the rest of the laundry.
Most likely, you won’t be able to use the dryer. Instead, the directions will say to lay the garment or let it drip dry.
Of course, you shouldn’t use bleach or iron the bra, either.
Let’s talk about the best detergent for washing bras.
Which detergent is best for washing bras?
The simple answer is liquid detergent for delicates. Specifically, it’s best to wash bras with a mild detergent that does not contain phosphates, enzymes, or bleach. Here’s one option below:
Woolite Delicates Hypoallergenic Liquid Laundry Detergent
This versatile laundry detergent works in regular washing machines, HE washers, and can be used for hand-washing lingerie. Check the bottle label for use instructions specific to the type of machine or method you’ll be using. (It helps to know if you have hard water as that affects how well the detergent works. If you’re not sure, there’s a simple way to find out how hard your water is. If you get white spots when tap water dries on the mirror, you probably have hard water. But if you try to rinse soap or shampoo and your skin still feels slippery after a while, chances are you have soft water).
Not only is this detergent hypoallergenic, but it’s also gentle on clothing. It doesn’t contain phosphates, enzymes (which break down protein stains like food), or bleach. Therefore, it won’t fade, stretch, or shrink delicate fabrics like wool, cashmere, silk, or synthetics.
But Woolite isn’t the only option. You might also like the next detergent.
How to wash bras by hand
If the idea of machine-washing bras makes you nervous, why not try washing them by hand? There are mild detergents that won’t wreck your skin. (You can even use baby shampoo in a pinch, but it’s not the best option).
If you’re going to hand-wash a bra, you need a bucket or large bowl or a way to block the sink drain because the garment needs to soak for a little while.
The Canadian-made Soak detergent takes 15 minutes to clean a bra. You don’t have to leave it overnight or spend time scrubbing.
Mix the recommended amount of detergent into cool water and submerge your bra. We usually spend a few seconds gently massaging the bra to work the soap into the fabric. Then let it sit while the detergent works its magic.
Other types of detergent, like Woolite, require rinsing. Since Soak is a rinse-free detergent, all you have to do is remove the bra from the water and press out the excess liquid. We’ve found that pressing the bra inside a towel removes more moisture so that the bra dries faster.
Be sure to scroll down to learn how to dry your bra to keep it looking and fitting like new.
SOAK WASH Rinse-Free Wash for Handknits
This detergent uses coconut-based cleansers and it’s very mild for delicate fabrics. It’s perfect for lingerie and bras.
It comes in both scented and unscented versions. Moreover, besides hand-washing, you can use it in High-Efficiency machines and regular washing machines. What’s interesting is that it doesn’t need to be rinsed with water so you don’t even have to complete the full wash cycle.
How to wash a bra in the washing machine
Before you do anything else, fasten the bra closed and place it into a mesh bag. A delicates bag helps protect the bra and keeps it from snagging on or tangling with other items in the washer.
If the bra has removable pads, pull those out and wash them in a delicates bag, too. (You’ll see examples of mesh bags in a moment).
Whether you have a top-loading washer or a front-loading high-efficiency machine, you should have the option of choosing a delicate cycle. Most likely, it will default to cold or lukewarm water, but double-check the temperature before you start the washer. The cooler the temperature, the better it protects the fabric from damage.
It may be tempting to stuff the machine full of laundry but resist the urge. Only wash lightweight and delicate fabrics with your bras. Think about a mosh pit – do you really want to bash your lingerie with heavy jeans? But a couple of crop tops or blouses would be fine.
It also helps to wash similar-colored items together so that the light-colored bras don’t turn out gray or pink, etc.
When the cycle finishes, remove the bra promptly and lay it flat to dry. You might also drape it over a drying rack. (More on that in a minute).
iDesign 5950 Mesh Large Mesh Wash Laundry Bag
If you’re wondering how to wash bras in a mesh bag, we have two tips. The first is to choose a bag that’s big enough to hold the bra but not so large that it gets tangled with other clothing. The second is to make sure the zipper is securely closed so that the bra doesn’t pop out in the middle of the wash cycle.
If you choose a mesh laundry bag like this one, it has a rust-proof zipper that tucks away into a pocket so that it won’t rub up against other items in the washer. We also like that the mesh is finely woven enough that the bra hook and eye closures don’t snag on it.
Furthermore, the mesh bag is breathable and can be used for packing and organizing luggage, not just laundry.
Wanapure Bra Wash Bag
Can padded bras be washed in a washing machine? If you have a specialty lingerie wash bag like this one, yes. You don’t even need to remove the padding before washing the bra. Just fold the bra in half and insert it into the bag.
The bags also protect underwire bras from crushing and twisting.
The wash bag set includes two different sizes of cylindrical mesh bags with protective plastic frames. One bag is 7 inches in diameter so it holds bras up to a C or D cup. Meanwhile, the measures 8.2 inches and can hold up to a G cup.
Lastly, the zipper is hooded so that it won’t catch on other items in the washing machine. Still, keep the load light and wash your bras with other delicates or lightweight items.
How to wash bras in a washing machine without a mesh bag
What about washing bras in a pillowcase if you don’t have a mesh laundry bag? Yes, it can be done. It’s not our favorite method because the pillowcase isn’t as breathable as a mesh bag so the bras don’t always get washed as thoroughly as we’d like.
Just remember to close the open end of the bag with a rubber band.
How to dry a bra
Please, please, please don’t put your bras in the dryer – not even sports bras. Even if the care instructions say that you can do it, dryers are hell on elastic and synthetics. Only do it as a last resort and only on the lowest heat setting.
The best way to dry a bra is to let it air-dry.
To do this, you can drape them over a shower rod, a drying rack, clothesline, or lay them flat on a clean towel. Place the middle part over the rod or bar and let the cups hang down on either side.
Reshape padded cups so that they dry in the proper shape. And when you put them away, lay them flat in the drawer or stand them up so that the cups aren’t smashed.
Don’t use clothespins to clip the straps or the closure to a clothesline because you’ll leave impressions on the fabric and possibly damage the elastic.
We also suggest not hanging the bra by the straps because a wet bra is heavy, wet fabric is more fragile, and this type of treatment could distort the straps. (Yes, this is paranoid thinking because what does a bra strap do all day but support weight? But hey, it deserves a break every once in a while).
If you’re in a hurry to air-dry your bras, placing them in bright sunlight is a bad idea. The UV rays could fade or damage the material. However, if you live in a humid place, a bra might stay damp for a couple of days and end up stinking. Don’t put them on a heater but rather in front of a fan so that room temperature air can get the job done more quickly.
Amazon Basics Folding Laundry Rack
Every home needs a laundry drying rack because there’s always something like a bra that needs a little extra care. This one is affordable, lightweight, foldable, and it fits in a bathtub.
The powder-coated steel bars resist rusting and support up to 32 pounds. It folds up accordion-style and fits in a closet when you don’t need it.
Whitmor Over The Door Drying Rack
If you don’t have a bathtub, this over-the-door laundry rack makes excellent use of a tight space. It folds down so that you can fill up the five rust-resistant rods with drying bras and four plastic hooks with other items.
Then when you don’t need it, press it flat up against the door and it’s out of the way. It even comes with a one-year warranty just in case.
What if the bra is still stained after washing?
Deodorant, sweat, and body oil can leave bras stained and dingy. The age-old solution is to treat them with white distilled vinegar and/or baking soda.
The vinegar method: soak the bra for twenty minutes in two cups of cold water with two teaspoons of white vinegar. If you’re happy with the result, rinse and dry. If not, try the next step.
Mix baking soda and water into a paste and massage it into the stained part of the bra. Let it soak for twenty minutes then wash as usual.
We hope these tips help you keep your bras in top condition. Here’s a quick summary of all the products we mentioned:
|What you need to wash bras
|Why it works
|Woolite Delicates Hypoallergenic Liquid Laundry Detergent
|SOAK WASH Rinse-Free Wash for Handknits
|iDesign 5950 Mesh Large Mesh Wash Laundry Bag
|Wanapure Bra Wash Bag
|Amazon Basics Folding Laundry Rack
|Whitmor Over The Door Drying Rack