The Definitive Guide To Washing Your Lingerie
The Debrief: Because sticking your bra in the dryer is a big old no-no
Artwork by Rosie Kliskey
Sure, we'd love to channel Dita von Teese and coordinate our lingerie to our lipstick. In reality, we’re more the ‘rustle around in the underwear drawer, hope for the best’ sort. But if you put a little extra effort into taking care of your lingerie, you’ll ensure your lacy under-things last – if not for a good couple of years, then at least till your next hook-up.
Apparently British women only wash their bras six times a year. It might make sense; after all, how dirty can bras get? But as it turns out, everything from fake tan to body lotion and sweat can break down the elasticity of your bra and reduce its lifespan. For this reason, try not to wear the same bra two days in a row to avoid the build-up of sweat and oil.
As a general rule of thumb, you should aim to wash a bra after about four to five wears. You have two choices here: hand washing or machine washing. Obviously, the ideal option is to hand wash your bras, especially your more expensive ones. But let’s face it, ain’t noooobody got time for that.
Most bras – even ones that say ‘hand wash’ on the label – can be washed on a gentle cycle. Protect them from snags by putting them in fine mesh bags (like this £4 bra bag from John Lewis), and make sure you fasten the bra clasps to stop them from catching on the netting. Try not to use fabric softener, as this also reduces elasticity in bras. And whatever you do, don’t put bras in the dryer. Dry flat on a towel. If you’re short on space, hang them from the central part of the bra and not the straps.
If you’re keen to protect the £85 you invested in an Agent Provocateur balconette (or anything similarly expensive or delicate), it’s best to go the hand washing route. Fill a clean sink with lukewarm water and add a gentle detergent, like this Woolite hand washing liquid, which also works on silk. Throw your bras in and leave to soak for a few minutes. Next, swish around the bras and gently squeeze the suds through the fabric for a few minutes. Rinse under running water until the water runs clear. Dry as usual.
As a grown-ass woman, you’re hopefully cognizant of the fact that you need to wash your pants more than your bras. They’re also a lot hardier, so feel free to chuck in with your normal wash – unless we’re talking about silk, which benefits from gentle hand washing too.
That just leaves the occasional stain to take care of, whether that’s discharge, period blood or cum (real talk, ladies). For tips on how to deal with the last two, check out our Definitive Guide to Gross Stain Removal.
You might find that vaginal discharge tends to – how do I put this – crust in your knickers? Sometimes it can even bleach the fabric. That’s because the pH level in discharge varies according to your menstrual cycle, or even when you last had sexytime.
If you’re worried about regular discharge staining your prized La Perla pants, it’s best to treat the stains before you chuck them into the laundry. A quick spritz of a pre-treatment stain remover spray (like this Vanish one) will work wonders, especially before the discharge has a chance to dry up and harden.
If you’re dealing with discharge of the crustier kind, soak your pants in warm water and some Oxi Action powder for about an hour. Then use a soft brush, like a toothbrush, to scrub the discharge off.
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