Bra and Lingerie Care

Try these tips to extend life of your delicates

I have been known to treat my bras with a great deal of disrespect. Like many women, I used to throw them into the washing machine without a second thought. In fact, my bras never got any special treatment. I’d throw them in the regular washing cycle. Then I would peel them off the sides of the machine and toss them into a high-temperature dryer.

I cringe when I think of it. No wonder my bras didn’t do much for my shape or the fit of my clothes.

The other problem was that they wore out quickly. They lost shape, Spandex and color within a couple of months of owning them because no one ever taught me the right way to preserve the life of your lingerie.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I take the time to care for my bras. While I tend to pay more for a bra, I also get more out of it. Another benefit is that I enjoy the look and feel of my bras for a much longer time.

Experts generally recommended that women wash their bras every other time they wear them. That means your bra should be finding its way to the laundry basket after 2 days wear. You may be able to wear a bra for a bit longer if you are traveling or find yourself pressed for time, but remember that this is a garment that you wear against your skin and it will pick up oils from your skin. Those oils can have an impact on the fabric over time. For instance, you’ll notice that a lined or cotton bra will show any dirt quicker than a sheer lace bra, so they may require a more frequent cleansing.

And it’s not just your skin’s oil that can affect the fabric of your lingerie. Perspiration also has a tendency to stain delicate fabric and will break down Spandex quickly. So, consider where you have worn your bra when deciding how frequently to wash it. Sports bras worn for working out may require you to wash them after each wear, for instance.

Rushed for time and on the road? Here’s a tip that you might not have heard: bring your bras into the shower with you! Dab a small amount of shampoo into your hand and use this to wash your delicates. The shampoo is gentle enough for your lingerie’s cleaning needs, especially if you are on the road in a hotel room.

Keep in mind that the dye in dark clothing rubs off on light-colored bras. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the frustration of throwing on a white bra under a new shirt, and finding smears of color on the bra at the end of the day. You can’t fix this problem with bleach! Bleach will destroy the specialized fabrics in your lingerie.

So how to keep your lovely white lingerie white? The best way is to wash it in laundry soap for delicates and do it frequently. Daily washing in mild detergents will keep your bras at their whitest and brightest – it will also improve the longevity of your garments. As for the challenge of dye transfer, your best bet is to wear a bra that is close in color to your top. (Just think of it as a great excuse to have a bra wardrobe!)

Bra Care Tips

  • Never put your bras into the washing machine on the regular cycle! This is one of the key ways that you reduce the life of your bra.
  • The washer’s delicate cycle can be used when you aren’t in the mood to hand wash, but keep your bra’s clasps closed. A lingerie mesh bag will also help to protect your bras in the washer.
  • Never use bleach on your bras! Bleach will destroy fibers and contribute to loss of elasticity and support. If you see excess staining, simply soak your bra in soapy water for a few extra minutes prior to washing. This will give you a chance to pre-treat all the stains. Follow by giving special attention to the stains by gently rubbing them with your finger pads.
  • Use a delicate washing liquid to clean bras. There are many products on the market especially formulated for gentle cleansing. When you are traveling and need to wash your lingerie, try shampoo. Shampoo is gentle enough to preserve your bras while also removing dirt and oils.
  • Wash your bras and other highly elasticized garments in slightly cool water. Cool water will actually help to “shock” the fabrics in your bra back into their original shape. Never use hot water on bras as hot water will help to break down the elastic fabrics very quickly.
  • Make sure you rinse your bras well, followed by a gentle squeeze in a towel to take out excess moisture while still preserving the structure of your garment. Reshape your bras after their towel squeeze and air-dry them. Bras can lay flat or hang, depending on style and material. If you are unsure or concerned about the structure of the cup, carefully lay flat. Never wring your bras or you can affect both support and shape.