How to Wash Bras and Delicates (Without Ruining Them)

How to Wash Bras and Delicates (Without Ruining Them)

For most folks, undergarments are cornerstone to every outfit. Unlike most of the items in your wardrobe, a single preferred bra can be worn multiple times each week, if not daily. They can be fickle to shop for, expensive and annoying to launder, thanks to form and fabric. What’s more, bras are worn in close proximity to some of the body’s most productive sweat glands (you might not realize how much your body excretes even when not actively moving), meaning one of the most delicate items in your dresser drawer is one that should be laundered on the regular. Here’s how to wash and maintain bras – without ruining them in the process.

Are all bras hand wash-only?

Thankfully, technology has improved the form, fit, fabric and design of bras. Once upon a time, mass market bras were synonymous with underwires, which had a pesky habit of poking out from the cup and jabbing the underarms. When washed freely in a machine, these bras would tangle and stretch, eventually eroding the integrity of the elastic, and underwires would distort.

Happily, wireless bras have stormed the market and we haven’t looked back since. This evolution means not all bras need to be handwashed. Sports bras, wireless cotton bras and those constructed of synthetics hold up well when laundered in the washer when contained in a mesh bag. That said, you probably still want to hand wash sheer, embellished, gel-filled and lace bras, and those with adornments like fashion crystals and frills. If you want to err on the side of caution or if you tend to batch-clean your lingerie, it’s perfectly fine to simply hand wash all delicates.

How to wash bras in the washing machine

You’ll need:

Is a mesh, zippered laundry bag necessary?

A washing machine works by agitating clothing items against one another. The surfactants in the detergent lubricate the fibres, releasing debris from fabrics. Et voila, clean.

For delicate items like lingerie and bras, rubbing against fabrics like denim or heavy cottons can cause them to fray, unravel, tear, run or pill. Stowing delicates within a mesh laundry bag reduces contact with the rest of the items in the wash, reducing tangling and damage caused by friction. Overall, it’s a valuable $10 investment in the longevity of your delicates.

Pre-wash: Check the garment care label to ensure the bra is machine washable
Pre-wash: (Optional) Perform any stain treatments

  • Step one: Close clasps/hooks; remove any padded inserts
  • Step two: Load into the bag and close
  • Step three: Wash with Tru Earth laundry detergent eco-strips. Select the delicate cycle, which likely auto-selects a cold or warm water temperature.
  • Step four: Without wringing, press any excess water from the bra and re-mold the cups to their original shape.
  • Step five: Air dry by laying flat or hanging to dry (do not tumble dry in the dryer). If hang-drying, sling both shoulder straps over the hanger (rather than just one) and ensure the clasps/hooks are affixed – basically, hang it just as you would wear it.

How to hand-wash bras

Pre-wash: (Optional) If you need to stain-treat, do it before hand washing.

  • Step one: Fill a sink or basin with lukewarm water.
  • Step two: Add half of one strip of Tru Earth laundry detergent eco-strip to the water.
  • Step three: Swish the water with your hand to ensure the detergent has fully dissolved.
  • Step four: Remove any padding and add the bra(s). Allow the bra(s) to soak for ten to 15 minutes.
  • Step five: Use your fingers to work the soapy water into the material, particularly emphasizing sweat-prone areas like where the band sits beneath the underarm and the lower interior cups.
  • Step six: Rinse under cold water until the water runs clear.
  • Step seven: Gently press any excess water from the bra. Do not wring it, which could cause warping and stretching. Re-mold the cups to their original shape, if needed.
  • Step eight: Air dry by laying flat or hang-drying. Remember: Hang it as it’s meant to be worn: by both straps and with clasps enclosed.
  • Step nine: (Optional) Re-insert any padding

How to stain-treat delicate bras

Apply a concentrate treatment to spot-clean any stains using a Tru Earth laundry detergent eco-strip:

  1. Tear a strip into small pieces and place in a shallow bowl.
  2. Add one tablespoon (15ml) of tap-hot water to begin dissolving it.
  3. Stir with a spoon to form a paste, adding small volumes of water as needed.
  4. Smear the concentrate atop the stain, gently pressing the mixture into it to allow the surfactant to get to work, releasing the residue from the fabric.
  5. (Optional) If needed, use a soft bristle brush or new/clean toothbrush, starting at the outer edge of the stain and working your way inward.
  6. Rinse with cold water after 20 minutes.

Note: Avoid the temptation of using hot water when stain treating and avoid vigorously scrubbing, especially when it comes to lace and sheer materials. If you need to apply a bit of elbow grease to tackle a stain, gingerly scrub with a soft bristle toothbrush, starting at the edge and working your way to the centre.

Do bras and lingerie require special laundry detergent?

Lingerie stores often sell specialty detergents for delicates. You may wonder, do bras require their own soap? The answer is no, so long as your laundry detergent is alcohol-free. Happily, Tru Earth laundry detergent eco-strips are tough on dirt but gentle on clothes – and the environment. We think that’s a win-win-win.

How to store bras

If you can’t hang them, lay bras flat in a drawer. Nesting them against one another will help maintain form.

How often should I wash my bras?

According to Canadian bra and apparel maker Knix, bras should be washed every two or three full wears. (“Full” meaning a complete day of wear, rather than just a few hours.) Of course sports bras should be washed after each use in order to avoid bacteria and mildew build-up. Tip: If you can’t launder athletic bras right away, allow them to air dry completely before tossing in the hamper. Owning a handful of bras means you can batch-wash your delicates every two weeks or so.

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