How To Wash Bras: A Full Guide

Your favorite bras are wardrobe foundations that help shape and maintain your figure all day. Bras and lingerie are made from fragile specialty fabrics, yet they are also carefully engineered to maintain their shape and hold your breasts in place. Their carefully designed structural supports, elastic fibers and delicate materials bring out the best in your feminine silhouette. To protect your bras, extend their lifespan, and keep them looking great, you’ll want to treat them with special care. Most bras last about three years before the fibers stretch out of shape and the elastic loses its ability to support your breasts. Learning how to wash, dry and store bras the right way can help extend their life, ensure that they fit well, and keep them looking new every time you put them on. Since bras sit against your skin, they tend to pick up sweat, body oils and dead skin cells as you wear them. Washing these soils away keeps you feeling clean and also helps protect the bra’s fabric and elasticity. Ideally, you should hand-wash your bras, let them air-dry, store them flat and rotate them between wears. You can also carefully wash your bras in the washing machine, but it may shorten their lifespan.

How To Wash Bras

What To Do Before Washing Your Bras

Before you wash your bras, check their care labels. Intimates that are made from fragile fabrics like silk or lace need special treatment to protect them from ruin. Padded bras can easily become misshapen if they are improperly washed, and you should protect all your delicates from heat at every stage of cleaning.

How To Select a Detergent

To maintain the structure and appearance of your bras, it’s best to clean them with a mild detergent, specialty lingerie wash or baby shampoo. Choosing the right soap or detergent helps maintain the structure and shape of your bras and other delicate and elastic garments like panties and shapewear for women. Many lingerie washes are specially designed to protect delicate fabrics like silks, mesh, laces and tulles while gently breaking down organic residue. Since baby shampoos are formulated to gently remove dirt and oil from the skin, they can usually do the same for delicate fabrics. Mild everyday laundry detergent is usually safe to use during your wash, so long as it does not contain harsh surfactants, lathering agents, dyes, alcohol or phosphates. Always check the label and instructions on your detergent bottle to make sure that it’s appropriate for your fabric type.

How To Hand-Wash Your Bras

It’s always best to hand-wash your bras, and the process is actually simple. Hand-washing helps keep the underwire in place, preserves the padding and reduces wear on the fabric. For best results, you’ll want to submerge your bras in water contained in a sink or basin, then take the steps listed below.

Step 1: Prepare Your Wash Basin

Close any hooks and eyes to prevent the garments from catching on each other. Check the care label. As long as there are no special instructions, you should fill your basin with enough cool or lukewarm water to cover your bras while leaving room for them to move as you pull your hands through the water. Avoid using hot water, which can break down the elastic in your bras.

Step 2: Add Detergent

Check the label on your bottle for the appropriate ratio of soap to water. Usually, you should use about a tablespoon of cleaning agent per gallon of liquid. The water should have a few suds and feel slightly slippery. Using too much detergent can leave behind residue that feels uncomfortable and attracts dirt. Gently swirl the detergent and water with your hands, then add your bras to the mix and move them through the water.

Step 3: Let Your Bras Soak

Let your bras soak for a few minutes, then carefully press the suds into the bra without twisting or wringing the fabric. Gently rub any visible stains without scrubbing the bra together. Handle your bras carefully to protect the elastic, padding and embellishments. Once the soapy water has penetrated your bras, let them rest in the water for 15 to 30 minutes or longer. If your bras are especially delicate or made from silk, take them out after 15 to 30 minutes. A longer soak may encourage the fibers to break down faster.

Step 4: Rinse Out Your Bras

Once your bras have been washed, drain the water from your basin and refill it with clean water. Swish the bras in the clean water to release the detergent, then rinse each bra with lukewarm water, then cool water, until the water runs clear and all the soap is removed.

Step 5: Press Out Excess Water

Gently press or squeeze out the water from your bras without twisting or tugging the fabric. Lay the damp bra on a clean towel, then loosely roll up the towel or pat out the extra moisture. Remove the bra, reshape the cups if needed, and let it air-dry.

How To Machine Wash Your Bras

Although hand-washing your bras is ideal, you can safely wash them in the washing machine with the right technique. Keep in mind that even the best washing machine will put more wear and tear on your bras. Most of the steps involved in hand and machine washing are similar, but when you machine wash your bras, you should take a few extra precautions to minimize any risk of damage to your bras’ foundations.

Step 1: Prepare Your Bras for the Washing Machine

Close the hooks and eyes on the bra so they won’t snag on other garments, then place them inside a mesh lingerie bag. This step will prevent your bras from getting stretched out, caught on or rubbed against other clothes in the machine. It can also help keep the underwires in place and prevent them from becoming misshapen. If you wear sports bras, washing them in a lingerie bag can help preserve their elasticity. Once your bras are securely contained, place the bag in your washing machine. You can also add other soft or delicate items, like sweaters or knits, to keep the load balanced.

Step 2: Add Detergent

Add mild detergent, lingerie wash or shampoo to your washer’s dispenser as directed by the product’s label. Do not use fabric softener since this can damage elastic and make your bras feel waxy or sticky.

Step 3: Choose the Gentle Cycle

Choose the gentle, delicate, or hand-wash setting on your machine and use cool or cold water. If you’re washing bras with other items, you can use a normal cold cycle. Wash your bras using a small load setting that also provides enough water to flow freely through your garments. Avoid washing bras with heavy fabrics like jeans, towels and sweatshirts, which can damage their cups and underwires as they move around the machine.

How To Wash Bras

Step 4: Remove Excess Moisture

After your wash cycle is complete, take your bras out of the mesh lingerie bag and carefully press out any excess water. Wrap them in a towel, reshape them and air-dry them.

How To Air-Dry Your Bras

Properly drying your bras will ensure that they maintain their shape and supportive properties after washing. To keep your bras feeling new, always air-dry them and never put them in the dryer. Even low-heat dryers can damage the elastic, straps and underwires in your underwire bras. The tumbling action can harm fragile embellishments and cause your bras to tangle, which can ruin their fit. The best way to dry your bras is to place them on a flat surface or drape them on a hanger or bar with one cup on either side. Never hang your bra by its straps because the weight of the cups can stretch out the fabric. Keep the cups facing up or out, and prevent fading by placing your bras away from direct sunlight as they dry. If your bras look wrinkly after drying, you can steam them gently.

How To Store Your Bras

It’s best to store your bras flat in a drawer to help them maintain their shape. Do not fold your bras in half and tuck the cups inside each other. Instead, fasten the clasps and lay each bra facing upright and nested inside one another.

How Often Should You Wash Your Bra?

How To Wash Bras

How often you wash your bras depends on how long and how often you wear each one. Generally, it’s a good idea to have at least four bras on hand and avoid wearing the same bra two days in a row. Giving your bras time to rest helps them return to their original shape and maintain their elasticity. Most bras should be washed every three wearings. If you wear a bra in hot weather, to the gym, or for several days during the week, you should wash it frequently. If your bras are particularly dirty or sweaty, you should wash them as soon as possible after wearing them. Wash your sports bras right away after every workout.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do My Bras Get Damaged in the Wash?

Machine washing your bras subjects them to heavy forces that can stretch, twist, snag and tear them. The heavy agitation can cause bra cups to become malformed. Always wash your bras in a mesh bag in cool water using the gentle cycle to keep them in shape.

How Can I Deep Clean My Bra?

If your bras are heavily soiled, you can soak them in a mixture of water and vinegar before washing. You can spot-treat stains by dipping a clean washcloth in soapy water and gently rubbing them out.

Can I Wash My Bras in a Pillowcase?

If you don’t have a mesh lingerie bag on hand, you can wash your bras in a pillowcase. Fasten the hooks on your bras, put the undergarments into the pillowcase, and then close it by tying a loose knot at the end of the sack.

Should I Remove Bra Pads Before I Machine Wash My Lingerie?

Before machine washing your bras, always remove the pads. Bra pads need to be hand-washed to keep their shape, then laid flat to air-dry.

Should I Worry if I See Color in the Wash Water?

Some dyes used in lingerie will release in water, but using cool water and a short soak time should minimize color loss. If you’re worried about color transfer, consider washing your light, bright, and dark lingerie separately to keep the colors true. Use an old, clean towel to gently remove excess moisture.

Keep Your Favorite Bras Fresh and New With Proper Care

Taking good care of your bras will ensure that you’ll always feel your best whenever you put them on. Washing your bras properly will extend their longevity and keep them looking beautiful. When you invest in bras you love and give them special treatment, you can happily enjoy them for years, no matter what you are wearing.