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Bra Care: Washing, Drying, and Storage Tips

If you’re like me, you’ve been washing your bras all wrong. It’s a common mistake that can shorten the lifespan of your favorite lingerie pieces. So, let’s talk about how to wash bras properly because they deserve a little TLC.

Believe it or not, bras are more sturdy than they seem. Their delicate materials and intricate designs can be damaged by rough handling in a washing machine. But don’t worry, I’ve got the scoop on how to keep them in top shape.

Ready to revolutionize your laundry routine? Let’s dive into bra care, and I’ll show you how to keep your bras looking as good as new.

Importance of Proper Bra Washing

Neglecting to wash bras properly is an all-too-common mistake. And let’s be honest, laziness is often the culprit. You might be thinking, “It’s just a bra! What’s the big fuss?” The fuss concerns longevity, hygiene, and maintaining the shape that supports you daily. Remember, a well-cared-for bra can last up to a year and according to Utah State University, you should wash your bra three to four times wear or use.

Think about it: bras soak up sweat, skin cells, oils, and more each day they’re worn. This accumulation is unhygienic, strains the bra’s fabrics, and reduces its lifespan. Unsurprisingly, a bra that isn’t washed correctly or frequently enough can become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus, and I’m sure that’s not what you want against your skin!

The intricate designs, delicate lace, and unique materials require a tender touch during washing. Most bras aren’t designed to withstand the rough and tumble of a washing machine or the harshness of regular detergents.

What’s worse, forcing your bras through such conditions repeatedly can distort their shape, loosen straps, and cause the wiring to poke through – the very problems that proper washing can prevent!

So, not washing your bras correctly isn’t just about damaging the pretty things in your lingerie drawer. No, it’s about preserving your investment, protecting your health, and maintaining comfort and support.

Let’s dive into how to care for our essential, yet often mistreated, bras. Don’t worry; it’s not a daunting task, and it’s far from it! With a bit of care, your bras can stay in top shape for longer than you’d imagine.

Hand Wash vs. Machine Wash

When washing your bras, the method of choice can make a significant difference. While throwing them in the washer with the rest of your laundry may seem convenient, that’s not always the best choice. Here’s a close look at the pros and cons of hand and machine washing.

Hand Washing

Though seemingly daunting, hand-washing bras is the ideal method for maintaining their quality and longevity. It’s gentle on the fabric and preserves the shape. Bras are delicate! They’re often made of lace, satin, and other fine materials that can easily snag or damage, especially when mixed with different clothes.

To hand wash:

  1. Fill a basin with mild detergent and warm water and let the bras soak briefly (20 to 30 minutes will do).
  2. Remember, hot water can break down the bra’s elasticity, so stick to warm or lukewarm temperatures.
  3. After soaking, rinse them thoroughly with cold water and gently squeeze out excess water.
  4. Don’t wring them out, as this can warp the shape.

Machine Washing

On the other hand, if you’re short on time, machine washing is a viable option – but with a precaution. Even the most careful spin cycle can strain the fabric. So, use a mesh laundry bag to protect your bras, and always pick the gentle cycle. These bags are easy to find and not expensive, and they can save your bras from a lot of wear and tear.

Additionally, try to wash bras with other delicates. The clasps should be kept from bulky items like jeans or towels, which can shape the bra’s cup.

Choosing the Right Detergent

The choice of detergent can significantly impact maintaining the quality and longevity of bras. The suitable detergent can keep the bra clean, protect the fabric, and help it retain shape and elasticity. Conversely, strong detergents can harm the fabric, affect the shape, and cause discoloration.

Always go for a gentle detergent that’s specifically formulated for delicate fabrics. Gentle detergents are free from harsh chemicals and dyes that can potentially damage bras. Moreover, they’re ideal for sensitive skin and preventing allergic reactions. You might notice that some detergents say they’re safe for delicate fabrics, but checking the ingredient list is essential.

Powder or Liquid Detergent? The debate about the superiority of one over the other never seems to end. I’ve found that delicate fabrics respond better to liquid detergents. They dissolve well in water without leaving any residues, which can be an issue with some powdered detergents. However, if you’re more comfortable with powder detergents, make sure they dissolve entirely before dropping your bras in.

Brands also produce detergents specifically for lingerie. While these can be more expensive, they provide targeted cleaning for bras and other delicate undergarments. Lingerie-specific detergents tend to be more gentle, making them an excellent option for bras requiring a little more care.

Remember to avoid using bleach on your bras. Many associate bleach with cleanliness, but it’s too harsh for bras. It can destroy the structure and strength of the fabric, leading to bras losing their shape much quicker. If your bras have any stubborn stains, alternative solutions, such as stain removers for delicate fabrics, are better alternatives.

So, when selecting a detergent for your bras, think about the type of fabric, the color, and any special washing instructions indicated on the bra’s tag. This guideline can help you make the right choice.

Preparing the Bra for Washing

Let’s dive into the preparation phase of washing bras. This step is as important as the washing itself. Think of it as a pre-wash ritual vital to maintain your bra’s life and longevity.

Before throwing your bras in the washer, consider this: Are there any particular stains or spots that need special attention? If there are, pretreat these areas with a delicate fabric wash. Apply a small amount directly to the stain, gently rub the fabric together, and let it sit for a few minutes before washing.

Next, take a moment to check each bra in detail. Look at the hooks, straps, and underwires. Are they intact, or are there any loose threads? If I find anything that needs attention, I sew the loose threads or replace the broken elements before sending the bras off to the wash.

Even though some bras can handle a machine wash, hand washing your bras is often recommended. But before you begin, many overlook one step: the proper way of clasping your bras. Clasping your bras can prevent the hooks from snagging on other clothes or even the washing machine drum.

Here’s my tip: Always hook your bras before washing. It’s quick to do and can save a lot of potential damage to your bra and other garments. This step is convenient when machine washing – but it’s a good habit for even hand washing.

It’s essential to wash similar colors together. I usually separate my bras into light and dark colors. This helps prevent any color bleeding and keeps your light-colored bras looking fresh.

All set for the next phase, which is the actual washing? We’ll get to that soon. Meanwhile, double-check the steps you’ve taken to prepare your bras for washing. Each small step goes a long way in ensuring your bras continue to look great and offer the best support.

Hand Washing Method

The best approach to maintaining your bras’ longevity and flattering shape is the hand-washing method. Done correctly, hand washing is a delicate, detailed process that is ideal for lingerie, especially bras.

First, fill a clean basin or sink with warm water. The temperature plays a vital role in preserving the fabric’s elasticity and color. Water that’s too hot may lead to warping and fading. So, it’s best to aim for warmth, not heat.

Next, add in a gentle, lingerie-friendly detergent. Specific lingerie detergents are specially formulated to remove makeup, cream, sweat, and body oils – common residues on bras. Don’t use regular laundry detergent, as it’s too harsh for these delicate items.

Allow your bras to soak in this mixture for about 15 minutes. This timing seems to be optimal for cleansing without damaging the fabric. You don’t want to leave your bras in longer, as extended soaking can cause color fading.

After the soak, gently scrub the underwires, clasps, and stained areas. Rinse thoroughly until the water runs clear. Be careful not to wring or twist your bras. Instead, press the water out, starting from the top and moving down.

Air dry your lingerie right after washing. Avoid using an electric dryer as it can damage the fabric, underwire, and padding of bras. Instead, lay your bras flat on a towel away from direct sunlight or hang them by the center front to maintain their shape.

These are your best practices for hand-washing bras. Keep these in mind when laundering your bras to extend their life, maintain their comfort, and ensure they provide the support your body requires.

Again, patience, care, and regular attention are the key to preserving your bras.

Machine Washing Method

While hand washing is the gentlest way to clean your bras, only some have the time for this. Balancing work, personal life, and chores can be challenging in a busy world. Hence, machine washing offers convenience without taking too much time. But it’s not about throwing your bras in with the rest of your laundry; there’s a specific method you should follow to ensure their shape and longevity remain intact.

First thing first: invest in a mesh lingerie bag. These are relatively cheap and readily available at supermarket outlets or online stores. They can hold multiple bras and protect them from the rough and tumble of the washer.

Put the pretreated, clasped bras into the bag, ensuring you’re washing similar colors together. Keep them tight enough; each bra needs its space. Overpacking could lead to some bras needing to be adequately cleaned or getting twisted and potentially damaged.

Once your bras are safely in their mesh bag, put them in the washing machine. The setting should be on a delicate or gentle cycle; remember to use warm water. Avoid hot water as it can break down the elastic and fabrics. A lingerie-friendly detergent is the best option for maintaining color and fabric quality.

After the wash, avoid the temptation to put them in the dryer. The heat and tumbling can ruin the shape and elasticity of your bras. The best method to dry your bras is still to air dry flat.

Understandably, hand washing will be more gentle and thorough than hand washing. So, regularly check your bras for loose threads or broken elements that need mending. Remember, a little attention to detail goes a long way in maintaining the life of your undergarments.

Machine washing is not the enemy of bras, but it’s important to remember that not all bras are machine-washable, especially those with wires, padding, or delicate materials. For these intricate pieces, hand washing might be the better bet.

Drying Bras Properly

Post-wash, drying your bras is as crucial as washing them. If you’ve wondered why your bras lose their shape or elasticity after a few washes, the answer may lie in your drying methods. The key to maintaining your bras’ longevity is to air dry them instead of using a dryer.

The Pitfall of Mechanical Drying

I cannot stress this enough: Always air-dry your bras! Mechanical drying is one of the primary reasons bras lose shape and elasticity. The intense heat from dryers is too harsh for the delicate fabric and can cause your bras to wear out far faster than they should.

The Right Way to Air Dry Your Bras

When it comes to air-drying bras, a proper method ensures they maintain their shape and quality. After washing, gently squeeze out the excess water. Avoid wringing or twisting, as this can distort the shape. Then, reshape the cups with your hands and lay the bra flat on a towel. You can also hang it up by the center gore (the part between the cups). Either way, stay clear of hanging bras by their straps. This can cause them to stretch out of shape.

Factors Affecting Drying Time

While air drying is much gentler, it can take longer. Numerous factors affect drying time, from fabric to temperature and humidity levels. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Synthetic: Up to 8 hours
  • Cotton: 5 to 7 hours
  • Silk: 4 to 6 hours

Remember always to check if your bra is completely dry before storing it. Storing damp bras can lead to mildew and other unpleasant issues.

In essence, when it comes to washing bras, it’s not merely about the washing itself. Proper drying plays a significant role in the longevity and maintenance of the shape of your bras.

Storing Bras to Maintain Shape

Now that we’ve addressed the proper way to wash and dry bras let’s delve into another critical aspect: how to store your bras to maintain their shape and longevity.

One common mistake I’ve noticed is the practice of folding bras in half with one cup inside the other. While it might save space, this method can distort the bra’s shape and even lead to creasing over time. Instead, bras should always be stored flat or stacked. This practice ensures that their form is preserved, protecting the elasticity and shape of the cups.

You might wonder if hanging bras by the straps is a viable option. 

Unfortunately, it’s not the best idea. Hanging bras by the straps puts unnecessary strain on the material, leading to a loss of elasticity and stretching over time. On the other hand, hanging the bra by the center gore on a flat hanger is a solid option that maintains the bra’s overall structure without putting excess strain on any part.

If you’re dealing with padded or molded bras, there’s an additional step to take. Make sure to reshape the cups after washing them before you dry them and store them. This will prevent the padding from becoming misshaped. Furthermore, if you stack bras, place the heaviest ones at the bottom to avoid squishing lighter ones.

Appropriate storage may require extra effort or rearrangement in your drawers, but the payoff is well worth it. You’ll extend your bra’s life, saving money in the long run. This isn’t just good advice for your most expensive lingerie; every bra in your drawer deserves this care.

The next part of our series will discuss the recommended frequency for washing bras, ensuring they stay in top shape for as long as possible.

Troubleshooting Common Bra Washing Issues

Despite the utmost attention, sometimes the process doesn’t go differently than planned. Let’s address those pesky bra-washing issues that may spring up unexpectedly.

Firstly, stained bras can be a nightmare to deal with. To tackle this issue, treating the stain as soon as possible is critical. I’d recommend dabbing it with cold water and applying a gentle detergent directly on the area. Pre-soak the bra before proceeding with your usual washing routine.

What about shrinking bras? This issue often arises when bras are exposed to heat. Ensure you wash your bras in lukewarm water and avoid heat-drying completely. If your bra has already shrunk, try soaking it in warm water and gently stretching the fabric back into shape.

Another common grievance is wire poking. If your underwire pokes out after washing, it’s usually due to machine washing. To avoid this, it’s best to hand wash your bras. If it pokes out, use a little adhesive or hand-sew the opening for a quick fix.

Finally, the dreaded fade dilemma. Losing the vibrant colors of your lovely bras is a significant disappointment. To preserve the color, wash your bras in cold water. Also, avoid combining dark and light colors to keep your bras from losing their hue.

Addressing these issues isn’t rocket science. It only requires a dash of extra care, attention, and knowledge. And remember, proper handling of your bras not only extends their life, it saves you money too. We’ve got one more important topic to cover in the bra-care guide: How often should you wash your bras? Stay tuned to find out.


So there you have it. I’ve shared my top tips for washing, drying, and storing bras. Remember, the key to longevity is proper care. Avoid folding bras in half, and opt for flat storage or stacking. Be mindful of the strain hanging bras by the straps can cause, and opt to hang them by the center gore on a flat hanger. And remember to reshape the cups of padded or molded bras post-wash. If you encounter issues like stains, shrinking, wire poking, or fading, I’ve provided solutions to tackle them head-on. By following these guidelines, you’ll not only extend the life of your bras but also save money in the long run.

Clotheslyne Washes Bras with Care

Caring for personal items, especially delicate garments like bras, demands precision and gentle handling. Clotheslyne provides a stress-free solution with free pick-up and delivery laundry services across select areas, including New York, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Alaska, and Massachusetts. Our Clotheslyners are adept at managing sensitive items, ensuring your bras are meticulously washed, dried, and returned in pristine condition. Trust Clotheslyne to preserve the shape and fabric integrity of your bras, offering you more leisure time for yourself. With Clotheslyne, you receive support from your community, understanding the significance of detailed and careful assistance for your intimate garments.

To use Clotheslyne, download the iOS Apple App or Google Play Store Android app to schedule your laundry pick up.

You can also schedule your laundry pick up through our web portal.

Fill up a tall kitchen bag full of clothes. A Clotheslyner in your community will pick it up and deliver it back to you washed, dried, and folded in 48 hours. It’s that simple.

FREE pickup and delivery laundry services for less than drop-off at your local laundromat!