I used to launder my bras by tossing them into the washer and dryer with my normal light and dark loads.
Never did I stop to think if they could survive repeated hot water, agitation, and tumble drying. Well, they can’t . The continuous friction and heat of the washer and dryer causes fabric, especially ones containing lycra, and elastic to break down very fast. After the first wash, starches that are applied during the manufacturing process and give clothes, including bras, a clean, crisp, and new look are removed. After a couple of more washes, delicate fabrics such as laces start to weaken. Soon enough, my bras are ready for the trash (Bras should be worn on the looses hook and eye. When they start to wear, it is okay to switch to the second or third hook. When a bra is no longer tight on the tightest hook, then it’s time for the trash. The elastic is donzo). In addition to laundering, our body heat and oils also break down elastics. Bras are worn closer to the body than normal garments – it’s our second skin – and even a normal sweat from moving about our day breaks down elastic (if the elastic is white, it will start to yellow. This is our body’s oils!).
That doesn’t mean that the life of a bra can’t be maximized. When I started sewing bras, I found a way to “safely” launder my “underthings.” It takes a little bit longer but it works. The key to the process is wrapping it in a towel after hand washing and popping it in the dryer for approximately 5 minutes when it’s almost dry (I do this to my knits too). It fluffs it up, eliminates stiffness, and is safe enough not to break down elastics too much. This method may seem basic to mavens such as Amy but its never a bad idea to revisit and relearn the foundations (pun intended). Hey, I didn’t know this stuff at some point and you may not either.
Okay, I admit that I don’t take the time to wash my bras using this method every time (recommended washing is every 2-3 wearings) but I make an effort to do it as often as possible. There are always those Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons where Center City Philadelphia or Netflix are calling and not the kitchen sink. But one less machine washing is better than none. I make most efforts to keep my lacy things in tip top shape!
Although this method can be used for undies, I don’t, and that’s for sanitation reasons that I don’t need or want to go into
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Fill up sink ½ way with tepid to hot water. While sink or tub is filling up, mix in a small amount of mild detergent, Palmolive, or Ivory soap
TIP: If lingerie contains silks, it is okay to use hair shampoo since hair and silk are protein fibers. Also, be careful to NOT use too much soap, detergent, or shampoo. The more soap, the more rinsing that will be needed
Put lingerie in soapy water for 5-10 minutes and agitate at regularly
Remove lingerie from soapy water and check to see if stains are removed
If there are still stains, put lingerie back into sink and soak/agitate for another 5 minutes or until stains are removed
If stains are removed, remove lingerie from soapy water
Drain soapy water from sink and refill sink with clean, tepid water
Put lingerie in clean water and rinse by agitating gently. Repeat rinsing cycle until ALL soap is removed
Lay lingerie on a towel and roll up towel and lingerie to remove water gently
Hang or lay to dry
When lingerie is almost dry, tumble dry for approximately 5 minutes to fluff up and remove stiffness