Here are tips for washing bras, including the best way to wash these delicate items, plus instructions for doing it in the real world where you don't have unlimited time and patience but still want your bras to last.
Bras cost a lot of money, are often delicate, and are worn frequently. When they don't fit right, which can happen from damage caused by not washing them correctly, they don't feel comfortable and can actually cause you pain and discomfort. Further, you wear your bra right next to your skin so you want it to be clean and fresh.
For all these reasons, listed above, washing bras properly is really important.
But sometimes the very best way to wash and care for something also feels a bit impractical for everyday life. Therefore, this article explores both the best practices for how to wash bras as well as some practical tips for what is slightly easier, but still works well, most of the time, when it comes to cleaning this delicate clothing item.
There is a wide range of opinion about how often you should wash your bras, as there is with any rules of thumb about how frequently to wash anything. Some people, for example, think you should at least rinse off your bra and let it dry after each use. That seems a bit impractical to me, and therefore I suggest washing your bras after every 3-4 wears, as long as you also give them at least a day rest between wearings.
Practically this means you should have at least two, perhaps more, bras so you can rotate their use. Also, if you exercise or sweat a lot in a bra you should probably wash it sooner than suggested above.
Bras are delicate, often made from less sturdy or stretchy materials, and also often include added lace or embellishments. Even sturdier bras though are delicate, at least in the sense that they are made in a very specific shape, so if they get stretched out, shrunk, or the elastic begins to sag, they don't fit properly anymore and are basically useless.
Therefore, the best practice is to hand wash your bras instead of putting them in the washing machine, because gentle hand washing is best for preventing damage or undue stress to these delicate items.
However, since hand washing can feel like a lot more work than throwing it in the machine I'm going to tell you how to wash your bras both ways.
For me, personally, I choose to use the machine washing method for my more practical and utilitarian everyday bras, and then handwash the more expensive fancy ones, which I find to be a happy medium between taking care of my more special possessions and getting the laundry done quickly so I have something to wear.
When I do this I know that the bras I wash in the washing machine will suffer from more wear and tear, and therefore wear out more quickly. However, I am willing to take this consequence because I save enough time and hassle to make buying bras slightly more frequently a worthwhile trade off. You choose whatever tradoffs make the most sense for you.
Hand washing bras is actually much easier than you might imagine and doesn't take much time either. All you need is a sink that will hold water (or a small tub), some mild detergent, and the bra you want to wash.
Use either cool or luke warm water, add a small amount of detergent or soap (if liquid, use about a teaspoon), and then place the bra into the water and let it soak for a few minutes.
After it soaks (be careful with some fabrics, which aren't colorfast, to wash them seperately) gently squeeze the bra fabric repeatedly, allowing the soapy water to move through the fabric. You don't want to twist or wring the bra at all during this process.
That's really all that is needed to clean your bra, so all that's left is to rinse the bra with cold water, again soaking and squeezing it repeatedly, until all of the soap is removed from the fabric. Depending on how much soap you added to the original handwashing water it may take a couple of rinse baths which is why I suggest not using much soap to begin with.
Below I've discussed some additional steps you can take when washing your bras if they've got yellowing or perspiration stains on them. In addition, below you'll see my suggestions for drying your bra after it's washed.
I've gotten lots of questions about the best detergent or soap for washing bras. A mild bar soap, such as Ivory will work, although I find people tend to rub too much of the soap on which makes rinsing harder, especially if you've got hard water, which is more time consuming. Therefore I suggest using either a liquid lingerie wash or a delicate wash detergent.
A little of this mild detergent goes a very long way, you don't need much soap at all. You want something that doesn't contain enzymes, and you may also want something with little or no perfumes if you suffer from laundry allergies.
Here's my article with a discussion of a lot of delicate wash detergents available, to find which one will work for you. I've also included some of my suggested ones below.
If you don't want to hand wash your bras you can also use your washing machine for the task. Even the gentle cycle (which is the cycle I suggest you use) will cause more wear and tear to your bras than hand washing but it can still work well.
Never wash your bras with other items, like jeans or towels, since these types of items will rub up against and abrade your bras causing them to wear out even faster, or snag lace. The hooks on your bras can also damage these other items if they're all put in together.
Instead, if you're going to wash them in the washing machine get yourself a mesh lingerie bag, with either a zippered or drawstring opening, to wash them in.
Here are some to choose from. They come in handy for washing all kinds of delicates, and also are great for keeping sock pairs together in the wash, so definitely have a few on hand!
As you place your bras in the bag (be sure to only put bras together that will not bleed dye onto one another, otherwise wash separately) fasten the bras closed. This keeps them from tangling with each other or having the hooks snag other items.
As mentioned above wash the mesh bag full of bras in cool or luke warm water (hot water will harm many delicate and stretch fabrics and also is much rougher on elastic, so it's a no no), adding the amount of delicate wash or lingerie wash listed on the instructions for the product. Typically a larger amount of detergent is needed when machine washing than when you hand wash, but you still don't want to overuse it.
It's as simple as that. Just let the machine run through the delicate cycle and then retrieve the now clean wet bras inside the bag.
Do not dry your bras in the clothes dryer. It will cause lots of wear and tear damage to your bras as they tumble in the drum, and also will cause damage to the stretch or delicate fabrics and elastics within this garment because of the heat.
Instead, you should always air dry your bras, but since they are small and typically thin they don't take long to dry.
If you've hand washed your bras they will be soaking wet when you're done, so lay the wet bra down on a clean towel and gently roll and press down on the towel to remove excess water. Again, never twist or wring out water from the bras as this will damage them.
If you've machine washed the bras chances are they're already rid of some of that excess moisture so you can just go onto the next step, which is to either lay your bras flat to dry, perferably on a mesh rack, or to hang them to dry.
I prefer laying them on a rack to dry because you can make sure they keep their shape better. Here are some example drying racks you can use (or you can lay them on a clean dry towel to dry as well, perhaps flipping them after a few hours to dry the other side):
If you don't have enough space to lay your bras flat to dry you can also hang them to dry. Be careful not to stretch them out during this process, so don't hang them by their straps since the wet cups can stretch out the elastic, but instead hang the bra by the center (the piece between the two cups).
The most common type of stains on bras are yellowing stains, caused by sweat and perspiration.
Most perspiration stains don't cause yellowing except with time, so washing your bras frequently and regularly will prevent a lot of yellowing from ever occurring. However, if you do develop these types of stains here's how you can remove them:
The secret to removing these stains, even from the most delicate of fabrics, is to pretreat them. Rub either a pure bar soap (such as Ivory) or a bit of delicate wash detergent directly onto the yellowed area and then let it soak in sudsy lukewarm water for up to half an hour.
After that, if the fabric isn't too delicate, you can rub the wrong sides of the stained part of the bra together to help remove some of the yellowing with abrasion. However, after you do this, and skipping the abrasion step if the fabric is extremely delicate, was the bra as usual either by hand or in your washing machine, as instructed above.
For more general information on removing these stains, check out the perspiration stain removal guide here on the site.
Also, make sure to check out even more laundry tips on the site here!
Hi, I'm Taylor, a busy mom with 3 kids, so I have lots of hands on experience with house cleaning, laundry and my fair share of spots, spills and other messy catastrophes. Thanks for visiting my site.
I update the website all the time with tips, tutorials, cleaning recipes, reviews of products from readers like you, and tests I've done on various cleaners, removers and laundry supplies.
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CAUTION: This website is provided for informational purposes only. It is provided as is, without warranties or guarantees. Some stains and messes just won't come out, and are permanent. Further, some cleaning methods can harm your item, so if what you want to clean or launder is sentimental or expensive call a professional. See disclaimer of liability for more information.
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