White Bra with fairy lights in the background

Lingerie Care: How to Wash, Dry & Store 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 it comes to washing bras and caring for your underwear, and we’re here to share them.

Lingerie Cleaning: Read the Label

Washing bras and pants is as simple as reading the label! We know 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 whether you’re wondering how to wash your favourite bra or you’re trying to figure out the perfect temperature to wash underwear, this handy lingerie care guide has all the answers so you can keep your lingerie (and you, of course) looking stunning for a long time to come.

How to Care for a Bra

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 those that make us look and feel great, 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 below - this will help avoid any undue damage happening in the wash.
A pair of hands rinsing lingerie under a tap

How to Wash a Bra by Hand

To keep your bra looking as good as the day you bought it, we’ve collated a step-by-step guide on how to hand wash a bra:

  • Plunge your bra in a tub of warm soapy water and leave it to soak.
  • Once it’s soaked, add a little detergent of specialist lingerie cleaning solution to the water and leave to soak for a further 5-10 minutes.
  • Once soaked, use a clean cloth to gently wipe away any stains or alternatively rub the stained area of the bra against another area of the bra until the stain is removed.
  • Once clean, rinse thoroughly under clean running water until all the soapy detergent has been washed away.
  • Using a clean towel, pat away any excess moisture from the bra.
  • To allow the bra to dry fully, leave it hanging on a drying rack or lay flat on a clean towel.

Can you Wash a Bra in a Washing Machine?

Yes, you can wash your bra in the washing machine if it says it’s safe to do so on the care label. Fasten your bras, or they might snag on other items. You might want to keep bras separate from anything else in the washing machine – place different items in different pillowcases, or a net wash bag, to keep them safe from snagging on each other or the machine itself.

How often Should you Wash Bras?

It’s personal preference when it comes to how often you should wash a bra, but we recommend around once a week or once every two weeks. However, if you’ve been a bit hot and sweaty throughout its wear, you may want to give it an additional wash to keep it fresh. As a rule of thumb, you want to wash your bra as little as possible to increase its life span but regularly enough to keep it clean.

How to Wash Underwear

It’s not just bras that need a bit of TLC when it comes to washing, the rest of your underwear drawer will also benefit from being looked after properly. When it comes to how to wash underwear, which way is best? Our top recommendation is to hand wash when you can! Hand wash only is a common warning sign on underwear 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 Underwear

  1. Firstly, separate whites, blacks, 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 if you don’t, just make sure it's not hot.
  3. Let your underwear have a soak in just the water for a little while.
  4. Add your cleaning products – you can find specialist underwear 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 gently dab at any stains on lace before washing.
  6. Rinse first with warmer water, and then with cooler water and keep rinsing until the water runs clear.
A pair of legs hanging out a washing machine in a laundrette

How to wash underwear in the washing machine

In a hurry? The washing machine can be a decent (if slightly riskier) way to wash your underwear. 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 on how to wash underwear in the washing machine:

  1. If you can, avoid washing your underwear 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.

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.

What Temperature Should you Wash Underwear?

If you’re wondering what temperature to wash underwear, we usually recommend a low temperature as this is will avoid ruining delicate fabrics. If you’re washing underwear in the washing machine or by hand, wash at 30°C or lower.

Various coloured Bras hanging on a line

Drying Your Underwear

How you dry your underwear is just as important as how you wash it. 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 underwear.
  • Don't dry underwear on the radiator.
  • Don't wring out underwear.

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 underwear naturally.

Yes, it takes longer, but it's the best way – drip drying on the line, or as 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 Underwear

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

  • Make some more room. Chuck out the old stuff – anything that's worn or never wear anymore. 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 underwear 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 or sexy g strings to simply sizzle in the bedroom, our lingerie section has plenty to choose from.