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It’s time to ‘fess up. Have you been thoughtlessly tossing your bras into the washing machine along with the rest of your garments? Well, then there’s a thing or two you should know about washing your bras if you want them to last.

The washing machine can be pretty harsh on your delicates. But does that mean you can’t use it to clean your bras? It’s a complex subject, but we’re diving into all the details in this comprehensive guide. Read on to find out whether it’s OK to machine wash your bras, plus some helpful tips for protecting your favorite underthings from damage.

Hand washing vs. machine washing

First thing’s first: Always check the care label on your bras. Some may be machine washable, but many will advise for handwashing only. For example, most sports bras must be hand washed due to the synthetic materials they’re made of, and due to the fact that they contain a lot of elastic. Many molded bras can become misshapen in the washing machine as well.

Naturally, hand washing is always preferable whenever possible. A washing machine puts your bras through a lot of agitation, which can cause some wear and tear over time. However, when you’re pressed for time, you may opt for machine washing (as long as the care label permits it). If you do choose the washing machine, you’ll need to take certain precautions to protect your delicates (more on that in the next section).

To hand wash your bras, all you’ll need is a large basin (either a bucket or even a sink will do) and some mild detergent. It’s worth investing in detergent that’s specifically formulated for lingerie, as it is less likely to break down the delicate fibers in your unmentionables (such as lace, satin, and elastic). Submerge your bras in lukewarm or cool water and a dash of detergent. Swish them around a little and then leave them for 15 to 30 minutes. Then, drain the water and refill the basin with clean water only (no detergent this time). Again, swish the bras around to loosen the detergent, without twisting or squeezing them too aggressively. Drain this water and repeat again if necessary. Always pat the bras dry by pressing them gently between two towels — wringing them out can leave them misshapen. Then lay them flat or hang them to dry, but avoid hanging them by their straps as this can stretch them out.

Tips for success

If you simply throw your bras in the machine freely, there’s a good chance they’ll be exposed to damage. The underwire may get bent out of shape, trims can start to unravel, and the details that make your bras beautiful may fray or tear. This is why it’s crucial to place your bras in a small laundry bag, whether or not you’re washing them with other garments. This will protect them from getting stretched out or tangled, meaning they’ll look and fit better for longer. Pro tip: If you don’t have a laundry bag, you can also place your bras in a pillowcase and secure it with a rubber band for a quick DIY solution.

Be sure to fasten all the hook-and-eye closures on your bras before placing them in the wash bag. This will prevent the hooks from pulling and snagging the fabric of other items in the bag.

When you’re using the washing machine, it’s crucial to set it to a “delicates” cycle, which is the closest to hand washing. You’ll also want to opt for cool water, as hot water is more likely to break down the elasticity of your bras (and the elasticity plays a big role in support). If you’re putting other items in the machine with your bras, make sure they’re lightweight garments. Bedding, towels, and jeans, for example, are too heavy to include.

So, to recap: can you put your bras in the washing machine? Ultimately, it depends on the bra. But if you determine that you can according to the care label, be sure to employ the tactics above to keep your bras in tip-top shape.

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Whether you’re shopping for new everyday bras or lingerie for a special occasion, it’s always a good idea to seek out a second opinion. We know how hard it is to find bras that fit, especially when you’re doing it on your own. If you’ve ever felt unsure about your bra size or you just don’t know where to go to find good bras, it’s time to let a bra fitter help.

Many specialty lingerie boutiques offer bra fittings. Their expert bra fitters will take the pain and frustration out of bra shopping and do all the work for you. Even better, their product knowledge can save you time and money. Plus, they know where all of the best bras are hiding.

If you’ve struggled with finding bras in the right size, it’s time to make a change. Visit our specialty store locator to find a store near you and schedule an appointment.

Happy bra shopping!

Featured image lingerie:
Mod By Parfait Modern T-Shirt Padded Bra A1381 | Mod By Parfait Modern Hipster A1385 in Bare
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Published by

Rebecca Strong

Rebecca is a Boston-based freelance writer who focuses on style, fitness, food, and travel. She has contributed to such publications as HuffPost, Elite Daily and U.S. News & World Report. When she's not writing, she can be found at home or in the studio working on the songs for her upcoming album. Her favorite bra is a black demi-cup style with all-over-lace — timeless and feminine.

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