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.