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How to Wash Lingerie

Delicate lingerie requires careful cleaning. Read on to find out how to wash lingerie, with tips & advice on both washing by hand and in the machine.


Learn how to Wash Lingerie

The method that you use to wash lingerie can determine how long it lasts, so whether you habitually buy expensive, beautiful lingerie, or just want to make sure you get the best out of the underwear you own – it’s important to know how to wash and protect it.

No one wants holes in their lingerie! To avoid damaging your underwear in the wash, use a detergent specially designed for hand washing – like Surf Blossom Fresh Bar. When hand washing, avoid wringing out or twisting the items dry. Instead, squeeze or press out the excess water (using a clean towel to help soak up the excess water) to prevent damage.

How to Clean Lingerie By Hand

Most lingerie care instructions recommend hand washing and this certainly seems to be the best way to make your delicates last a long time. First, you’ll need a specialist washing detergent for hand washing, like Surf Blossom Fresh or Surf Relaxing Lavender. Harsh or regular detergents should never be used on bras and pants if you don’t want them to deteriorate! Remember to follow the recommendations on the packaging of your detergent and test, diluted, on an inconspicuous spot, if you have not used the product previously.

To hand wash lingerie, soak your garments in a clean washing up bowl or sink, using a mild solution of washing detergent and cold to lukewarm water. Check the care instructions as some materials can only handle cold water, and never use temperatures of over 30°C. You should also be sure to separate whites, colors, and blacks when hand washing lingerie. If you’re really concerned about vivid colors running or fading, especially when washing new lingerie, it’s best to wash these items in isolation.

Rubbing is not always necessary when hand washing lingerie, and should be avoided where possible. However, you can very gently agitate your lingerie whilst it’s soaking, pushing it down and letting it float up again repeatedly to loosen grime. You should also pay particular attention to bra underwiring and straps, in order to ensure that the water and detergent comes into contact with the entire surface.

Unlike soaking most regular clothing items, it’s important not to leave your underwear in water for too long. Up to an hour is normally sufficient for hand washing lingerie and shouldn’t cause any damage.

After soaking delicate lingerie, you should rinse it with cold water from the tap. If you are not satisfied that the garments are completely clean, repeat the soak and rinse method until you are happy that your underwear is fresh.

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How to Wash Lingerie in the Machine

Although it may not be ideal, when time is short, washing lingerie in the washing machine can prove unavoidable. Here are some top tips for lingerie washing machine methods that could help you out in a time of need:

  1. Read the care labels to make sure that the garment can be washed safely in the machine.

  2. Do not mix colours and do not mix lingerie with other clothes or heavy items like towels.

  3. Use a good quality detergent such as .

  4. Use a cold washing machine setting, never above 30°C, and ensure a short cycle is selected when washing lingerie. The ‘delicates’ or ‘hand wash’ cycle is usually ideal.

  5. Purchase a lingerie wash bag to protect your lingerie in the washing machine, in order to prevent your delicates from becoming misshapen or developing bobbles where threads have been pulled.

  6. If you do have to use the washing machine to wash lingerie, it’s extra important to dry your undergarments carefully, reshaping them as soon as they’re out of the machine and laying them flat on a towel to dry rather than hanging where possible.

  7. Never leave your lingerie sitting in the washing machine after the cycle has finished – be sure to take it out as soon as the alarm goes off, and avoid doing a wash if you won’t be home when it finishes.

Frequently asked questions on washing lingerie

Why is soaking underwear for too long not recommended?

Underwear is often made of delicate fabrics, and letting them soak for too long can result in your items losing their shape or fading. Depending on the size of your load and severity of staining, anything between 5 and 30 minutes of soaking time is sufficient.

Why is the best detergent for hand washing bras a mild one?

Bras are often made from very thin and delicate fabrics, such as lace or silk, and they're often constructed with underwire, which can be easily bent out of shape. Mild detergent for delicate garments is the best solution for bras, protecting the integrity and color of your item.

Is it better to handwash underwear or to use a washing machine?

The right washing method depends on what type of underwear you need to clean and its material. Most cotton underwear such as briefs and panties can be safely washed in a washing machine. But if you want to clean bras or underwear made of silk, lace, or other delicate fabric, a handwash is the safer option.

Originally published