White Bra with fairy lights in the background

Lingerie Care: Looking After Your Underwear

There's a reason lingerie is often referred to as "delicates", even when it's something that's not-so-small. Satin, silk and lace are particularly fragile fabrics, and they need a little extra care and attention to keep them in their luxurious condition.

That’s why lingerie care and cleaning is an important thing to get right. After all, the last thing you want is for that favourite comfortable bra to come out of the wash in tatters, or that naughty outfit that makes you feel your fiercest in the bedroom to shrink down to doll-size! There are a few things to consider when comes to how to wash lingerie and store it correctly, and we’re here to share them.

Lingerie Cleaning: Read the Label

OK, so this is pretty much ‘washing clothes 101’, but sometimes we all need a little reminder to read the label! Before you throw a load of washing into the machine, take care and make sure you’ve checked exactly what the washing instructions are for each item and actually do what it says! They’re there for a reason, you know!

But what if there's no label, or you've snipped it out for a smoother line, or thrown away the packaging that had the washing instructions? Well, we've got you covered – these tips will keep your lingerie (and you, of course) looking stunning for a long time to come.

Bra Care Tips

Bras can be one of the most difficult items to take care of, but as an everyday item that is so important to our comfort, they need to be given a little more special attention. We’ve all got those bras that fit just right (if you don’t, take a look at our bra fitting guide), or we feel and look great in, so here are a few tips to help them last longer.

  • Switch your bra up – Wearing the same bra every single day can cause its lifespan to be cut by quite a lot. The fibres that are used in the material for your bra need a chance to recover between uses. Make sure you have a few to choose from and switch them regularly.
  • Store them properly – You should always lie your bras flat to store them and ensure that the clasp is done up. Having a lingerie drawer specifically for this can be a big help.
  • Follow the washing tips – Have a look at the washing tips below and ensure you follow them for each bra specifically. This will help avoid any undue damage happening in the wash.
A pair of hands rinsing lingerie under a tap

How to Wash Lingerie

Our Top Tip: Hand Wash When You Can

‘Hand wash only’ is a common warning sign on lingerie labels, but even if you've got the green light to bung it in the machine you might want to consider hand washing. Yes, it takes a little longer – but it'll take far better care of your favourite pieces.

How to Hand Wash Lingerie

Follow these simple steps to hand wash like a boss:

  1. Separate whites, blacks, and dark and light colours for each wash.
  2. Fill your sink with slightly warm water. Nothing above 30°C if you've got a thermometer handy – but just make sure it's not hot, really.
  3. Soak your lingerie in just the water for a little while first.
  4. Add your cleaning products – you can find specialist lingerie wash, but any gentle powder or detergent will do the job. Make sure it lathers up without the need for some vigorous rubbing. Never use bleach.
  5. Soak for another five to ten minutes before gently rubbing any stained areas. Be extra careful with lace – you should really gently dab at any stains on lace before washing.
  6. Rinse first with warmer water, and then with cooler water – keep rinsing until the water runs clear.
A pair of legs hanging out a washing machine in a laundrette

Cleaning Lingerie in the Washing Machine Tips

In a hurry? The washing machine can be a decent (if slightly riskier) way to wash your lingerie. You do have to be a little more cautious and make sure you’re extra careful with the settings.

Not everyone has time to hand wash their delicates – we would still recommend it for anything particularly flimsy, expensive, or much-loved, but for anything more everyday you can generally machine wash them safely.

Here's our step-by-step guide to letting the machine do most of the work:

  1. If you can, avoid washing your lingerie with your other clothes. It's not always practical, but we'd definitely recommend it if you can manage it.
  2. Just like with anything else, separate the colours, whether they're going in alone or with the rest of the load.
  3. If they're part of a larger load, make sure you stick to similarly lightweight fabrics. Denim and towels are best saved for another time.
  4. Make sure your washing powder is designed for delicate fabrics. Check there's no chlorine or sodium perborate in there. Again, never use bleach. Any whitening effects are cancelled out by destroying delicate fabrics.
  5. Check your machine settings. The delicate cycle, usually labelled as the wool cycle, is definitely your best bet. You want a gentle spin, a short cycle, and a low temperature – 30°C ideally. It'll avoid shrinking or messing with the colours.
  6. Fasten your bras, or they might snag on other items. You might want to keep bras separate from anything else – place different items in different pillowcases, or a net wash bag, to keep them safe from snagging on each other or the machine itself.

Remember, using the washing machine can be a little risky when it comes to certain materials like silk, lace or satin, so those previous tips around reading the labels and hand washing where you can remain just as important.

Various coloured Bras hanging on a line

Drying Your Lingerie

When it comes to drying your lingerie, there’s no point in taking lots of care to hand wash and keep your items in perfect condition before throwing them into a tumble drier and ending up with something that would either be best fitted on a Barbie doll or has gone a bit limp and sad looking.

We would say that we’ve got a list of do’s and don’ts for drying… but it’s mostly don’ts!

  • Don't tumble dry lingerie.
  • Don't dry lingerie on the radiator.
  • Don't wring out lingerie.

Why? Well, the heat can damage the fabric, especially anything stretchy – you might be left with something a little on the limp side after a tumble or two. Wringing will cause creases, no matter how gentle you are.

  • Do dry lingerie naturally.

Yes, it takes longer again, but it's the best way – drip drying on the line, or flat as possible on a clothes horse, is the best way. Be careful hanging it up outside, as too much sunlight can discolour fabric – though it'll take a few drying sessions for that to happen.

An open lingerie drawer with bras neatly placed in a row

How to Store Lingerie

We'd all love a walk-in closet, but sometimes an overflowing lingerie drawer is the only option. The way you store your lingerie can actually do it some real damage, so here's our advice:

  • Make some more room. Chuck out the old stuff – anything that's worn, that you never wear, anything you wouldn't be caught dead in. Give your favourites some room to breathe in the drawer, check out our tips on spring cleaning your lingerie drawer for more advice.
  • Embrace drawer dividers. Keeping everything apart means fewer creases and tangles. At the very least you should have a separate section for bras to avoid clasps and wires snagging.
  • Fold carefully. Don't fold things and then pile them on top of each other – it'll create creases and bend underwired styles out of shape.

Of course, storing your lingerie correctly will help it last a lot longer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself and find some more pieces to add to your collection!

Whether you’re looking for new bras to keep you comfortable all day, or corsets and basques to simply sizzle in the bedroom, our lingerie section has plenty to choose from.