How to Wash and Care for Lingerie

how to wash and care for lingerie black ironing board iron washing machine laundry

You finally bit the bullet and traded in your sensible white cotton undies for lacy, silky intimates. It was an investment, but you've never felt more feminine or sexier. It stands to reason you want to protect your investment and keep your new lingerie looking as good as the day you bought it. 

You know enough to know that you shouldn't just throw your new pieces into the wash with any old detergent and turn on the hottest wash cycle. So, how do you take care of your new delicates? This guide is here to help you take care of your lingerie in a way that keeps it looking bright and beautiful. 

Delicate Care for Your Delicates

Properly caring for your lingerie will help keep it looking nice and extend your wearing time. If you've ever put on a bra with lumpy padding in the cups, you know that preserving the shape of your delicates is an essential component in extending the life of your intimate clothing. So, how do you maintain the shape and color of your intimate apparel? The following three tips are an excellent place to start. 

  • Hand wash whenever possible rather than throwing your lingerie in the washing machine.
  • Use an alcohol-free, gentle washables formula detergent designed for washing by hand. If the detergent is mild enough for a baby's skin, it's likely mild enough for your delicates. Ivory Snow, Forever New, and Dreft are good choices. 
  • Hang dry your lingerie. The dryer gets too hot for delicate fabrics like silk and satin. 

Follow the Steps to Clean Your Lingerie

nudetique wash and care for lingerie

Like anything worth doing, there are steps to follow to care for your new lingerie properly. Before washing, gather the appropriate tools, your washbasin (you can use your bathroom sink if leaving clothing to soak won't be an inconvenience), delicate laundry detergent, a mild stain removal bar, and mesh bags are absolute musts for correctly washing lingerie. If you follow the steps and take your time, your most delicate fabrics will have a longer life. 

  1. Sort your intimates. Use materials, colors, and construction as your guide for sorting. Anything with detail such as lace or mesh, padded bras like your favorite push-up number, and underwired garments should get a good hand-washing. Cotton and sports bras and panties can be machine washed with like colors. 
  2. Use the stain removal bar to remove stains from lotions, body oils, makeup, and other skincare products. To do this, you wet the bar and gently work the resulting lather into spots where stains are likely to occur, like the straps, liners, bands, and underwire. Cold water is the choice for this process—especially if you have bloodstains to treat. 
  3. Prepare your basin or sink for soaking and washing. Fill your basin with cool to lukewarm water—never hot!—add your alcohol-free, mild detergent to the water enough to create a sudsy mix of water and detergent, usually a capful or two of the detergent. 
  4. Soak your delicates. Depending on whom you ask, you can be told to soak before scrubbing or after. We prefer to soak before, so stains have a chance to loosen from the fabric. To soak, you place your delicates in the lukewarm water and gently agitate the water with your hand. Then leave the item in the water for at least 30 minutes, but up to an hour. 
  5. Wash and rinse. After your soaking time has ended, gently rub the fabric together to remove any dirt or stains. Then rinse well by running under cool water until the water runs clear through the material with no hint of soap.
  6. Time to begin the drying process. Do not wring! Instead, gently place your delicates on a towel and use another towel to press the excess water out of the garments gently. 
  7. Air dry by hanging or laying flat on a drying rack or towel. The high temperatures of a dryer will cause the fabric to lose elasticity, shape, and moisture-wicking ability. 

What If There's No Time to Handwash?

black bra on dryer door hanging

On occasion, you can use your washing machine to help you clean your delicates, but there are tips for doing that.

  • Fasten the bands on bras to help retain shape. 
  • Place intimates in a mesh lingerie bag or a soft pillowcase.
  • Set your machine to the delicate cycle with a low spin rate and cold water.
  • Use the appropriate amount of delicate wash detergent to the load. Don't use Woolite unless your underwear is made of wool—this detergent can be too harsh for delicate fabrics. 
  • Even after machine washing, you should air-dry your delicate lingerie. 

Simple Storage Techniques

Now that you've taken the time to wash and dry your lingerie gently, don't simply toss it in a drawer to get hooks caught in lace and mesh. Instead, take the time to organize your delicates so that they last longer. One simple tip is to connect the hooks of your bra together so that loose hooks aren't grabbing the lace on your other items, and nesting bras together tends to help retain their shape longer than folding them in on each other.

It's your drawer when it comes down to it, so organize it your way. However, having some form of organization is preferable to simply tossing things willy-nilly into the drawer with no rhyme or reason. 

The Takeaway

Lacy, silky lingerie can help you to feel feminine and sexy. However, delicates that have faded or lost their shape no longer give you that feeling of sensuality. So, the solution is to gently take care of your intimate apparel to preserve its shape, color, and feel. 

Hand-washing is better for delicate fabrics, but you can wash your intimates in the washer using a mesh laundry bag or soft pillowcase in a pinch. Don't forget storage is an essential component of keeping your lingerie in its best shape. 


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