Wednesday, 5 March 2014

A (Lazy) Guide to Washing Bras

The question of how to wash your bras becomes important when you find the perfect size, the perfect bra, and curate your ideal collection. I am always surprised to learn how many people throw their bras into the washer (which can be okay) and-GASP-the dryer (never okay). Conversely, it seems like people who make an effort to preserve their bras’ longevity often use expensive lingerie washes and complex drying techniques to avoid crushing cups. It came to my attention that many people are not aware that you can use normal detergent and a towel to wash and dry bras quickly with minimal damage. The perfectionists among us will, of course, want to continue with high-quality lingerie washes, which may perform better in the long run. For the lazy among us, here’s my technique. No mesh lingerie bags, special soaps, or salad spinners required.

Step One. Gather all the bras that need to be washed. Maybe it’s taken awhile to get around to it and you have a lot. Before starting, you must separate the colors. I know I said this is a lazy guide, but if you wash a red bra with a white bra you WILL finish with a red bra and a blotchy pink bra. Ruining your bras defeats the purpose of washing them, so separate them out. It’s fine to wash most pastel bras with white bras. Red goes only with red, other bright colors are best kept alone as well. You can toss navy in with black.

Step Two. Fill the sink with cold-ish water. Hot water is not awesome for the fabric of bras, but it helps avoid the issue of plunging your hands into a glacier to retrieve the bra, so I usually make the water lukewarm. Purists will want to use cold water.

Step Three. Get out your normal, regular detergent. There is no real reason why you should need a special cleanser to wash your bras unless they are extremely delicate, non-washable fabrics. Whatever you use on your normal laundry should be fine for the vast majority of normal full-bust bras, unless it contains bleach. I use fragrance free detergent due to sensitive skin, so I use that for my bras as well. If fragrance is okay with your normal laundry, it will be fine for your bras as well. It does not take much detergent. Imagine how much you would use for a regular load and picture how much smaller your bra is, then eyeball it.

Step Four. Reach into the water and swirl the detergent around a bit. Now put the bra or bras into the water and submerge, and swish them around a bit. You may see the water become slightly gray if the bra is dirty. (You might see the water become slightly red, and you'll be glad you followed my advice about keeping the colors separate!) If there are any particularly dirty areas, you can put a little more detergent on your fingers and rub it into those areas.

Step Five. Leave the bras in the sink until the water drains slowly out of the defective drain plug, or until your roommate needs to brush their teeth, whichever comes first. Drain the remaining water and hold the bra under running water until the water stops looks looking soapy. Squeeze some of the water out of the bra.

NOTE: It is also okay to wash your bras in the washing machine, and you don't need a special mesh lingerie bag to do it. You DO need to put the bra inside something, though, because in the case that an underwire should pop out in the wash, it can totally destroy your washing machine. The easiest thing to do is to pop the bra inside a pillowcase and tie the top in a single knot. The knot will tighten as it gets wet, helping keep the bra secure inside. Only wash bras on a cold cycle (which should also be fine for all your laundry, because it cleans just as well as hot and saves money and the environment). I haven't had issues with bra colors bleeding in a washing machine, but to be 100% safe, you can just keep red bras out of the machine. 

NEVER put a bra in the dryer. It will wear the elastic out hundreds of times faster than normal wear. Even if it doesn't look like the dryer destroys your bras, it causes long-term damage. Instead, proceed to:

Step Six—Drying. Some people would just hang the bra on a drying rack at this step, but with padded or molded bras, it can take days for a bra to dry like this. Instead, get out a clean towel and lay it on the floor. Place the bra on the towel. Now fold the towel around the bra. The bra itself should not get folded, so the bundle you end up with will still be the size and shape of the bra. Carefully fold this bundle in half along the gore (if you can’t find where that would be, don’t force it). Now, step and kneel on the towel bundle to crush all the water out of the bra. Unfold the towel. The bra should now be only slightly damp. Hang it to dry and it will be ready to wear in a matter of hours rather than days.

I like the towel trick because it allows you to essentially “wring out” the bra without having to twist and crush the shape and the fabric. It also helps get the water out of tricky areas, like straps, that can’t easily be wrung out. Molded bras might briefly get a tiny bit crushed this way, so again, purists may want to experiment with the salad spinner technique (pretty much what it sounds like). Or, drape a towel over your knee, place one bra cup over each knee, fold the towel over the top, and press down.

I hope my technique will help lazy women everywhere wash their bras in the quickest, easiest way possible! If anyone has any tips and tricks for washing bras, please share them in the comments.

21 comments:

  1. This sounds similar to what I do, though I do tend to use the washer on delicate more often because it is a time saver. But, I do have a question: I tend to have anti-perspirant build up on my bras, especially noticeable on the black ones. Nothing I do, either handwashing and scrubbing or putting it through the washer and even the different soaps seems to get rid of this. Do you have a suggestion?

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    1. My best suggestion for getting rid of antiperspirant marks is to scrub at the area with a dry towel while the bra is also dry. They make special sponges for this too, but the towel works equally as well (which is to say, somewhat well).
      Antiperspirant marks are tricky. My personal solution is using a clear antiperspirant (Secret Clear Gel), but it's so individual to find an antiperspirant that works for you, so this may not be an option for everyone.

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    2. I use baking soda to help get deodorant build up out of my bras. If you have the problem of smell you can try washing them with tea tree oil.

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    3. A child's toothbrush might work here, too—I buy 4-packs every once in a while as they're great for various household cleaning needs, and was actually considering using one for this purpose since the bristles are so soft. Just make sure the brush and bra are both wet and give it a gentle try—that's what I will be doing! (Allergic to the clear antiperspirants, SIGH.)

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    4. I've found if there's any texture, the marks are evil to get out. I've got an extremely soft tooth brush I use to work cheap conditioner in there, which usually works. If really textured or delicate, I've used Goop or creme GoJo with just my fingers, then a conditioner round with fingers. Seems to work on like dissolves like principle. But I use "hippy junk" that's oil based vs whatever is in typical antiperspirant. It's not hyper effective (I tried a typical one that worked for three days and showers without needing to reapply), but it's easier to wash out plus most importantly, no allergic reaction with swelling, blistering rash and painful itching hell. I'll sooner apply skunk than go through that again.

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    5. I use a soft brush for this as well, it works pretty well on most materials (but not the delicate ones). You do have to go at it for a while though.

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    6. Thank you for the suggestions! I know what I will be doing this weekend.

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  2. LOL @ your defective drain plug, the disposal side of our sink is the same way. *Sigh* Thanks for the tips, I always hang mine up to dry and then get stuck wearing a wet bra when I realize that I have to make a trip to ________ and don't want to leave the house braless (especially not in the winter! You're welcome!) so the towel trick is going to be super handy.

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  3. I've found that using the delicate cycle on a front load washer has kept my bras in as food a shape as when I hand washed - perhaps better, as there is no pilling or twisting from toweling or wringing. I do use the mesh bra balls though. They're shaped like a D, with an actual underwire forming the curve, so the cups & wires don't twist. About $5 & I can fit 2 no padded bras in each. I also love that the washer allows a double rinse, which sensitive skin loves.

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  4. I've found foaming hand soap works amazingly well for bra washing. Much easier to rinse, gets everything clean, doesn't seem to build up in the foam. Then for any icky spots, a dot of full strength hand soap fixes it right up. Since my ick areas are also typically my rash prone areas (underwire, hooks), and my rash is typically fungal, I use a tea tree based soap. Still must wash with every wear, but no moldy bread odor developing over time. That was with washing in cold, in a mesh bag, in the washer, then air dried over a fan so those were clean bras. I still put everything over the fan, but it's humid here in summer and nothing air dries ever.

    Having washed dense foam at work - lukewarm to comfortably warm water wash and rinse, then vinegar rinse and a slightly cool rinse is the only way to effectively rinse foam. Cool water doesn't work half as well and requires far more manipulation to rinse, and still leaves gunk and detergent behind. Which I find to be more damaging than warm water that's cleaner and faster to rinse. I've got a 3(+?) year old Deco that's gotten washed in nearly hot water at times and the cups are in good condition as is the elastic (I wear it maybe once a month), the wire channel is pretty worn looking and there's a bit of permanent grayish discoloration, but it's fine. Vs my sissy's Deco washed by strict proper rules and had the cups breaking down from detergent residue within six months.

    I toss my non padded bras into a lidded bucket with water and a bit of soap when I get home, let soak until I take my shower, rub ick parts, let soak in shower, rinse a bunch, then put on drying rack. For padded, I soak starting in shower for a bit, then ick spots, then start my rinsing, then vinegar rinse, get out, turn water cooler, rinse, then put on drying rack.

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  5. Instead of dealing with the sink, I invested in a bucket that I use specifically for underwear washing. It's great and I don't have to worry about someone needing to brush their teeth.

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  6. I use this brand called Soak https://www.soakwash.com/

    It's self-agitating soap, so you just make a bubble bath for your bra and let it Soak for 15 minutes, then rinse it out. There's no need for scrubbing or anything like that, and it's really easy on the elastic in the bands.

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  7. I suppose my washing sounds fussy to you, because I do use a lingerie wash and a salad spinner. But I have the salad spinner already (for my salads) and I spend about 10 minutes a week of actual time in washing. I just dump them all together in my wide plastic bucket (no, I don't sort by colour, I've honestly never had an issue with lingerie wash and lukewarm water) with the soap, let them sit 10 minutes, pour off the water and add clean water, let sit for another 5-10 minutes, then add new clean water. Then I take the bras one at a time and put them in the salad spinner (once for transparent, both inside out and right side out for lined) and lay them out flat on a drying rack. The unpadded are typically dry in a few hours, and the padded ones within a day. I don't get any towels wet or dirty in the process. So even the 'fussy' method is pretty simple!

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  8. My washing machine has a soak option where it fills with water, gently swishes a little bit, sits, swishes a little more, sits a little more and then drains without spinning.
    For my bras I usually just throw them in on that cycle once with soap and then another time without. Then I use a towel to try to dry them out some and hang them.

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  9. I really hate bras. If I could get away without wearing them, I totally would. Washing them is such a pain too, there has to be an easier way. I've heard that bra pockets are really convenient but I've never tried them. Has anyone on this site tried them? http://www.camiwraps.com/white-wedding/

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  11. Washing still seems to make bras worse, I wash my sisters clothes for her and her main bra the straps dont stay up very well, however I started noticing they were falling down more frequently the first few times she wore it after been washed, so I started hand washing them although she doesnt know this as I dont think she would be happy me handling her bras that much. After I started doing this there seems to be no effect on how often her straps fall down after washing. Although they still fall as I think they too stretched out from previous machine washes and age.

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  12. Washing still seems to make bras worse, I wash my sisters clothes for her and her main bra the straps dont stay up very well, however I started noticing they were falling down more frequently the first few times she wore it after been washed, so I started hand washing them although she doesnt know this as I dont think she would be happy me handling her bras that much. After I started doing this there seems to be no effect on how often her straps fall down after washing. Although they still fall as I think they too stretched out from previous machine washes and age.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Washing still seems to make bras worse, I wash my sisters clothes for her and her main bra the straps dont stay up very well, however I started noticing they were falling down more frequently the first few times she wore it after been washed, so I started hand washing them although she doesnt know this as I dont think she would be happy me handling her bras that much. After I started doing this there seems to be no effect on how often her straps fall down after washing. Although they still fall as I think they too stretched out from previous machine washes and age.

    ReplyDelete
  14. So, I'm curious... I've got a number of bras in my rotation from Panache, Empreinte, Fayreform, Kris Line and others. I've noticed that the Panache bras seem to develop a body odor smell that none of my other bras ever have. I thought it might be me -- that maybe I needed to change my deodorant or something -- so I wore all of my non-smelly bras for a while, and none of them developed a smell. Panache Envy and Jasmine are particularly bad, which is a problem -- especially with Envy, which fits me better and is more supportive than anything else right now. I can see why the cheaper materials used in Jasmine might start to smell, but Envy makes no sense to me. Would tea tree oil help with this? Have you ever heard about this problem with Panache from anyone else? Now that I think about it, I've noticed a bad smell when I've done Panache bra swaps with others in the past -- I thought it was poor hygiene on their part in the past, but now I think maybe this is a Panache issue that I hadn't noticed before.

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