So you've found the source of your everyday sexy, your date-night show-stopper – whatever it is, it's responsible for making you feel fierce, and you want to keep it that way.

There's a reason lingerie is often called "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.

Step one: read the label

Washing clothes 101, this one – always read the label, 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.

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.

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.

In a hurry? Machine wash the careful way

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.

The dos and don'ts of drying

To be honest, it's mostly don'ts here. Let's run through them:

  • 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.

Safe storage

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.
  • Embrace drawer dividers. At the very least a separate section for bras to avoid clasps and wires snagging, but keeping everything apart means less creases and tangles.
  • 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.

So it's out with the old, and in with the new, stunning pieces that'll last you a long, long time, right? We thought so. Better get shopping.

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