Most of us have an entire bra wardrobe. There’s the colorful one from Aerie, the sleek Calvin Klein we wear to work, the sports bra for the gym, and that lacy little number we save for, uh, special occasions.
But washing them is a pain, am I right?
Yes, I know the best way to care for a bra is to hand wash it each time you wear it. But, really? That’s a lot of work, and a lot of wear and tear on our pretty (and pricey) lingerie.
So, I did some research for us. From now on, here’s how to wash your bras. You’ll get them nice and clean with less effort, and extend their lives, too.
What You Need
Mesh lingerie bags
A washing machine
About an hour (Delicate cycles are not speedy)
How to wash bras in the washing machine
You can wear your everyday bras about three times before washing them.
1. Fasten the hooks, so they don’t get snagged on anything else.
2. Check any underwires, to make sure the fabric over them is intact. If there are any worn spots, it’s best to wash them by hand, so they last a bit longer before they become dangerous.
3. Place two or three bras in a mesh lingerie bag. Make sure they are in the same color family. It's fine to put white and nude in the same bag, but dark colors go in their own bag.
4. Don’t wash bras with heavy items like jeans. Feel free to toss some panties, t-shirts and other lightweight clothes into the load, though.
5. Run a delicate cycle, using cold water, and a mild detergent. Theoretically, this puts less stress on the straps and elastic.
6. When the load is done, reshape the cups.
7. Don’t even think of putting bras in the dryer.
8. Although it’s cuter to hang them by the straps to dry, it’s easier on the straps if you drape bras over the clothesline by the gore (the center part with the little bow), or to lay them flat.
How to wash padded bras
Aside from the fact that they make us look amazing, padded bras have another advantage: they don’t need to be washed as often as other bras. Not that they stay any cleaner, but frequent laundering can deteriorate the padding, so don’t over-wash them.
1. Follow all the steps above, tucking bras in lingerie bags.
2. Using a towel, gently press the moisture out of the cups, reshaping as you go.
3. Hang them to dry, or lay them on a towel.
How to wash sports bras
Because they hold bacteria and sweaty odors, wash your sports bras as soon as you get home from the gym.
1. Remove the sports bra right after your workout.
2. Pop it into a lingerie bag, and wash it on a cold, delicate cycle.
3. Use a detergent made for workout clothes, or any mild detergent.
4. Lay it flat on a towel to air dry.
How to wash bras by hand (best. trick. ever.)
There’s a kitchen gadget that you absolutely need to use to wash your bras: a salad spinner. It’s like a miniature washing machine. I didn’t come up with this idea, but it’s my favorite laundry hack of all time. You can use it for your other delicates, too, as long as they’re not too big to crowd the spinner.
1. Put some barely warm water and a couple of teaspoons mild detergent (I use baby shampoo) into the salad spinner.
2. Dunk a bra in, making sure it gets thoroughly wet.
3. Let it soak for 10 or 15 minutes.
4. Give it a few good spins, then pour out the dirty water.
5. Rinse out the salad spinner, add some cold water, and spin it some more.
6. Refill and repeat until the rinse water runs clear.
7. Rinse out the spinner, put the bra back in and spin it a few times to dry it.
8. Hang it up to air dry.
Meet the tester
Cindy Bailen loves writing about major appliances and home design and has spent over 15 years immersed in that. In her spare time, Cindy hosts pledge programs for WGBH-TV in Boston and other public television stations.
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