How to: hand-wash your bras

How you choose to wash your bras really depends on you and what you want from your underwear. There is no right or wrong way of doing it, but there are definitely better ways of doing it. I know some people like to hand wash as it is meant to prolong the life of your bra, but for some, the convenience of machine washing outweighs the benefits of this.

If you are perfectly happy to accept that you may need to replace your bras more regularly, go ahead and machine wash. DO NOT, however, just sling your undercrackers in with your regular laundry, as it will not only shorten their life-span, but can distort the shape and damage them. You do not want wires escaping or misshapen straps.

How to machine wash bras effectively:

Wash on a cool wash using mild detergent (preferably special lingerie and delicates detergent) on the delicates cycle. Use a laundry bag… they can be inexpensive – I bought mine in the pound shop! But totally worth the extra effort.

I try to hand wash my bras whenever possible… I might make it a late new-years resolution to do it much more often as it really does help keep the shape, colour and life of your bras. The way I hand wash is fairly traditional, but I have been asked a few times how to do it so for those of you who don’t know here is a simple step-by-step guide.

Preferably use a hand-wash detergent. If I’m in a pinch I use a little regular detergent as I try to buy gentle detergent anyway. If you want to use regular, I suggest a mild non-bio soap. Whatever you have will be sufficient, but you might not see such great results over time. You can buy special lingerie and delicates detergent, but I have heard mild baby shampoo makes a great cheap alternative!

I fill a clean sink with warm (not hot!) water , a third of your usual amount of detergent that you would use in a regular washing machine (it should work out as the same about half a capful to 5 litres of water). Throw your bras into the water and leave to soak for a few minutes.

It is advised to not use fabric softener when washing bras, however if you try washing without it and you really don’t like the feel you can use it, but just be aware it may reduce the elasticity of your bra over time.

How to hand wash bras
Bras soaking in mild detergent

Next start ‘pumping’ the bras in the water, pushing them up and down through the water to loosen dirt and get them really clean. Be gentle! Knead and gently rub the under-wires and straps as this is where sweat and dirt can deposit most! You may want to use gloves when cleaning to protect your hands.

Hand wash the inside of a bra underwire
The underwire sits under the bust and hugs skin closely so can be more prone to getting dirty

When you are satisfied that they are clean – it should only take a few minutes – empty the sink of the dirty water. rinse the bras in the stream of water, Refill the sink with clean water and again pump the bras a little bit to get rid of any excess detergent.

Finally, take your clean wet bras and proceed to dry. Moulded cups should be put back into shape and allowed to dry flat, regular bras can be hung to dry but preferably dried flat. Easiest way I have found to do this is lie a clean towel on the floor and lie bras to dry on that.

Bras hanging to dry
Bras can be hung dry if it is not possible to dry flat.

If hanging to dry, rather than hanging from the straps, try hanging from the central gore. This will cause less distortion to the bra’s shape.

Do not ever EVER dry any kind of lingerie in the tumble drier. It is bra suicide! And remember – always read the care label!

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23 Replies to “How to: hand-wash your bras”

  1. Oh! Why non-bio? Is it more aggressive? I’ve replaced all my detergents and fabric softeners with a bio version… 🙁
    And thanks for the post! I washed mine in a similar way. but wasn’t sure if it was efficient enough. Now I feel reassured. The ‘drying flat’ tip is also useful!

    1. Your best bet is to buy a separate specialist ‘delicates’ handwash which is actually surprisingly cheap to buy from supermarkets – in the UK at least! x

    1. Hi Bridgette, thanks for stopping by! I just prefer drying mine on a towel as when wet bras can be very heavy and it can stretch out the elastic as it pulls on its own weight. This is especially important with delicate styles with lace for example. x

  2. Why can’t you put bras in the drier? I have heard this every where, and no one can give me a reason why not to, they just say “because you shouldn’t.”

    Also, what if you put the bras on a drying rack IN a drier (I have a removable drying rack for my tumble drier, so that whatever you are drying stays stationary and the drum just circulates around it), would that be OK (on the lowest heat setting, of course), or should I still not put them in the drier?

      1. Heat also destroys the elastic in the bra and breaks down the fibres faster. The bra will get stretchier or more brittle faster. The lifespan of the bra is greatly improved by laying flat to dry, like you do 🙂

  3. oh my goodness so useful! my mom still washes my bras because i’ve no idea how to do it and therefore i always feel she’s a little bit to blame when they come out pink or holey or out of shape but now i can do it myself! thank you so much and i’m sure my mother will be pretty grateful too xx

  4. Thank you! I’m having to buy bras again because not only were mine too small (not the right size) but they make me look like my breasts are cones due to the underwire always coming out of shape and the cups messing up, but now I can hand wash my own bras without worry!

  5. I’d add to avoid using powdered delicates wash, such as “Forever New” which smells like perfumed moth balls and is tricky to use – if you don’t use enough water, the fabric holds onto the tiny white particles, and you end up rewashing, until it’s all out!

  6. hi Cheryl

    I have read with much interest your posting about how to take care of bra’s. I take care of my wife’s lingerie, and also do laundry for three of our friends. I will now be able to make sure that I don’t ruin any of their lovely garments.

    snow white

  7. That’s really effective post that how to wash your lingerie and some people not understand that how to wash it so..your post is very helpful for moms and girl who don’t know that how to wash it.

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