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How-To Launder Bras


I used to launder my bras by tossing them into the washer and dryer with my normal light and dark loads. Never did I stop to think if they could survive repeated hot water, agitation, and tumble drying. Well, they can’t . The continuous friction and heat of the washer and dryer causes fabric, especially ones containing lycra, and elastic to break down very fast. After the first wash, starches that are applied during the manufacturing process and give clothes, including bras, a clean, crisp, and new look are removed. After a couple of more washes, delicate fabrics such as laces start to weaken. Soon enough, my bras are ready for the trash (Bras should be worn on the looses hook and eye. When they start to wear, it is okay to switch to the second or third hook. When a bra is no longer tight on the tightest hook, then it’s time for the trash. The elastic is donzo).  In addition to laundering, our body heat and oils also break down elastics. Bras are worn closer to the body than normal garments – it’s our second skin – and even a normal sweat from moving about our day breaks down elastic (if the elastic is white, it will start to yellow. This is our body’s oils!).

That doesn’t mean that the life of a bra can’t be maximized. When I started sewing bras, I found a way to “safely” launder my “underthings.” It takes a little bit longer but it works. The key to the process is wrapping it in a towel after hand washing and popping it in the dryer for approximately 5 minutes when it’s almost dry (I do this to my knits too). It fluffs it up, eliminates stiffness, and is safe enough not to break down elastics too much. This method may seem basic to mavens such as Amy but its never a bad idea to revisit and relearn the foundations (pun intended). Hey, I didn’t know this stuff at some point and you may not either.

Okay, I admit that I don’t take the time to wash my bras using this method every time (recommended washing is every 2-3 wearings) but I make an effort to do it as often as possible. There are always those Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons where Center City Philadelphia or Netflix are calling and not the kitchen sink. But one less machine washing is better than none. I make most efforts to keep my lacy things in tip top shape!

Although this method can be used for undies, I don’t, and that’s for sanitation reasons that I don’t need or want to go into.


{step 1} Fill up sink ½ way with tepid to hot water. While sink or tub is filling up, mix in a small amount of mild detergent, Palmolive, or Ivory soap

TIP: If lingerie contains silks, it is okay to use hair shampoo since hair and silk are protein fibers. Also, be careful to NOT use too much soap, detergent, or shampoo. The more soap, the more rinsing that will be needed

{step 2} Put lingerie in soapy water for 5-10 minutes and agitate at regularly

{step 3} Remove lingerie from soapy water and check to see if stains are removed

{step 4} If there are still stains, put lingerie back into sink and soak/agitate for another 5 minutes or until stains are removed

{step 5} If stains are removed, remove lingerie from soapy water

{step 6}  Drain soapy water from sink and refill sink with clean, tepid water

{step 7} Put lingerie in clean water and rinse by agitating gently. Repeat rinsing cycle until ALL soap is removed

{step 8} Lay lingerie on a towel and roll up towel and lingerie to remove water gently

{step 9} Hang or lay to dry

{step 10When lingerie is almost dry, tumble dry for approximately 5 minutes to fluff up and remove stiffness

additional resource : Nora of Orange Lingerie also wrote a great post on how to launder bras.




  1. Reply

    Jem Cheng

    This is such an informative little post. I have definitely been ruining my bras! :s Thanks Maddie!


  2. Reply


    This was surprisingly helpful. These days I just hand wash delicates with this mini washing machine I have, so it’s a fairly similar process. I miss having my own washer/dryer.

  3. Reply


    I guess I’m waiting for the day that I “grow up” and buy nice lingerie (and not stuff from Target) to do this… I do always machine wash my bras on cold and line dry them, which is better than all the hot water and dryer heat I guess…? Still, I’ve said before, my underwear drawer is in a sad, sad state…

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Sallie, don’t feel bad. I try to hand wash my undies as much as I can but I resort to the machine when I’m in a hurry or lazy.

  4. Reply


    I use a good woolite soak and hang to dry. I still wish bras would last longer though.

  5. Reply

    Latrice Smith

    I just recently had to replace my best bra because I scratched the mesh roughly, but I had it for about 3+ years. I currently wash my bras (clothes) in my hand washer machine.
    Okay, who am I kidding, I am wearing my scratched bra right now.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan


  6. Reply

    Miranda Foxx

    Oh man, I don’t think I’ve ever washed a bra as often as every 2-3 wears. (until it starts to smell funny, it’s ok, right?…right?!). I used to hand wash all of my under-things, but then I had to hand wash EVERYTHING for several months (including towels and linens) when my washer was broken, and the novelty wore off really fast. Now they’re lucky when I remember the delicates bag before I toss them in the wash. At least I’m careful to use the “hand wash” and “air fluff” cycles on my machines.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      I completely understand how hand washing lingerie gets old fast. I try but I certainly admit that I resort to the machine sometimes.

  7. Reply


    I’ve always washed my bras with the regular laundry, but after a brand new white bra got stained by other clothes, I’m rethinking that 🙁

  8. Reply


    great post, Maddie. I used to be wicked hard on my lingerie but now I have a little ritual around washing it. It’s always on Wednesday and *while* I’m Netflixing! I also have this obsessive thing with scent. I love the smell of handwashed things esp. if I drop a little rosewater in the sink ;).

  9. Reply

    Bekuh Browning

    I’ve been told my entire life to hand wash my underthings but never have. I may just have to start now. Thanks for showing me how!

  10. Reply


    Oh, I didn’t realize you could dry bras at all! I hand-wash all my bras and lie them flat to dry (or really, I pile them up and let them sit for weeks until I have nothing to wear, THEN I hand-wash them).

  11. Reply

    Payal Parija

    How to launder padded underwired bras ?

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      I would launder it using the same method I gave above. The washer and dryer are so destructive on a bra. The pressure of the water as well as other clothes in the wash bend underwires out of shape and the hooks and wires can “snag” other clothing. Those are just a few of the problems that can happen. There’s a who list of other issues that can occur during a machine wash/dry cycle.

  12. Reply

    A Lum

    Great info! Thanks 🙂

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