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6 Golden Rules to Follow When Washing Bras in a Washing Machine

3 bras hanging on a clothes line

Keeping a bra in shape is the ultimate task for anyone who understands the difficulty of finding one that fits perfectly! Furthermore, you might want to protect your investment because good quality bras don’t come cheap. So, in a bid to care for your bras, you may prefer to hand-wash them instead of cleaning them in a washing machine like the rest of your laundry. Well, it’s safe to say that the former is more troublesome and time-consuming while the latter is quick and convenient. With that said, there are some things you need to keep in mind when machine-washing bras to ensure that there is no damage caused to the material, shape, or additional features such as embellishments, wires, etc. 

So, if you want to know how to wash bras in a washing machine, here are six important tips to follow for best results! Read on.

1. Wash Bras in a Lingerie Bag

black bra in a pink washable bag

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to machine-wash bras without putting them in a mesh bag first. Owing to their straps and elasticity of the same, bras tend to get tangled up with other items as they are tossed around in the wash. This causes the straps to stretch out and pretty much puts your bra through the ringer when it is a delicate item that needs to be washed ‘delicately’! 

Unfortunately, many believe that lingerie or laundry bags do not allow for a thorough clean of delicates, however, that is far from the truth. Considering the fact that they feature a mesh enclosure, nothing interferes with the cleaning/washing aspect of things; the bag merely acts as protector, ensuring that the bras don’t get entangled or stretched out. It also helps retain the shape of the underwire and cup. 

2. Wash Bras Separately

woman with red nail polish handwashing a black bra

Even when placed in a mesh bag, it is advisable to wash bras in a small, separate load of laundry or with other delicates. This is because heavier clothes cause smaller, lighter items to move around more violently, thus putting the material and metal fixtures at risk of getting damaged. 

Two things to keep in mind when washing bras together is to make sure that they are fastened (so that they don’t snag the fabric of other delicates) and to avoid stuffing the lingerie bag. Unless the bras can move around freely within the bag, they will not be cleaned efficiently. If needed, use multiple mesh bags and, depending on the size, place 2-3 bras in each bag before washing them in your machine. 

3. Use the Right Detergent

woman with long purple nails checking washing instructions on her bra

It may surprise you but your regular laundry detergent could be weakening the fabric of your delicates. For this reason, specially made soaps and detergents for bras and underwear exist to give these items the gentle wash they need.

It should also be noted that bleach is a complete no-no when washing bras in a washing machine or by hand, as is using any laundry detergent in excess. For best results, we advise purchasing a lingerie-specific detergent and following the instructions on the label. If needed, pre-treat stains on a bra with a non-bleach laundry stain remover, and then run it through a cool wash cycle.

4. Select the ‘Gentle Care’ Setting

man changing settings on his washing machine

Many washing machine brands feature various settings that allow you to select an appropriate wash cycle as per the type of fabric, clothing item, or water temperature required for a single load. Among these options, you might find one that mentions ‘gentle care’ or ‘delicates’; this is exactly what you want to use when washing bras in your washing machine.

If your washer does not have this option, use cool water and a low tub to safely and effectively machine-wash bras. High heat is never advised when washing delicates as it can damage the material, as well as the padding and elastic incorporated into the design.

5. Avoid Tumble Drying

assorted coloured clothes in the drum of a dryer

There are a couple of reasons why we do not advise putting bras in the dryer; for starters, the increased temperature (as we mentioned earlier) is damaging, the underwire can become dented or misshapen with constant beating around the drum, and the cup may also lose shape.

Although it may take longer, the safest way to dry washed bras is by hanging them from the middle section (the material between the cups). Alternatively, you can lay them flat down on a towel and allow them to air-dry overnight.

NOTE: Never hang wet bras by the straps as this will stretch them out. 

6. Don’t Wash Bras Too Often

black bra hanging on a clothesline with pink pegs

Unless the bra is dirty or has gotten very sweaty, there is no need to wash your bras after every use. Frequent washing causes the elasticity to wear out, as well as the material and padding. While in some cases it is necessary to wash your bra soon after use (such as wearing a sports bra during a workout), for regular days, you can get at least 3 or 4 uses out of a bra before you decide to wash them.

A good alternative is to soak a used bra in soapy water for 30 minutes, and then rinse off the detergent in a basin of clean water. Gently squeeze out excess water thereafter and leave it to air-dry. This is typically recommended if the bra is slightly damp with sweat but does not require to be machine-washed just yet. 

If the lifespan of your bras have been cut short in the past due to improper washing techniques, follow the six golden rules above to keep your bras clean and free from damage with a safe and effective wash in the machine!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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