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How To Actually Wash Your Lingerie At Home


Prior to the pandemic, dealing with delicate lingerie felt like another chore we could get away with side-stepping, like replacing the filter in our AC units or humidifier. But now, after spending the last five months at home being confronted with all the little things we so often ignored pre-COVID, we've come to realize that those tasks that used to feel daunting, aren't quite so bad after all. And that goes for washing our delicates, too.

When many laundromats and dry cleaners closed down due to stay-at-home orders, some of us took to washing all our clothing by hand, not just delicates. If you're one of those people, you might have learned about the importance of separation. You can't just drop your new red sweater and your favorite white lace panties into the same soapy tub — that is, unless you're hoping for a new pair of fire-engine red undies. Those of you with an in-unit washer and dryer may have discovered that lingerie shouldn't go in the dryer. That'll eventually result in bent or poking underwires, stretched-out straps, and lumpy padding. And the gentle setting on your washing machine isn't as gentle as you might think.

So, it's to the tub (or large bucket) we go. And while it's true that the task at hand isn't actually very tasking at all — just remember the mantra: soak, rinse, and repeat — we thought we'd still go ahead and provide you with a guide for effectively washing your underthings (and also your cloth face masks).

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Invest in a lingerie wash


Yeah, yeah. You're probably asking yourself, Is buying a secondary specialized detergent worth it? The answer is yes. Since most regular detergents are too harsh and soapy for delicate lingerie materials — think: silk, lace, etc. — investing in a lingerie-specific one will extend the life of your underwear. And, more often than not, you only need a small amount of it per wash, so this stuff will last you.

Note: If a lingerie detergent costs more than you're willing to spend, make a DIY version using one cup of hot water, one teaspoon of baby shampoo, and one drop of essential oil.

The Laundress Delicate Wash 16 Fl Oz, $, available at The Laundress

Soak, soak, and soak again


Don't let the time commitment of a long soak scare you off. The beauty of hand-washing your undergarments is that it requires just five minutes of actual hands-on labor.

Here's what you do: Fill a basin (a sink also works) with enough lukewarm water to fully submerge the articles. Add in your lingerie detergent, and let the items soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, gently rub any part of the bra that touches your body or becomes particularly smelly (pro tip: use a toothbrush to get out stubborn stains). Drain the basin and refill with clean water, then give the lingerie another five minutes to soak. Once that's up, gently squeeze the garment (do not wring it out!), pop it on a dry towel, roll it up, and press gently to release any additional water. For extra softness, add a few drops of distilled white vinegar during the rinsing process.

Lonely Delilah Underwire Bra Scarlett, $, available at Lonely

Lonely Delilah Tri Brief Scarlett, $, available at Lonely

Don't wash everything together


As previously mentioned, be sure to separate and wash your garments the same way you do with your regular laundry, so they're only being washed with like colors. The last thing you want is your trustiest lingerie set turning pink by accident.

Cuup The Balconette Mesh Bra, $, available at Cuup

If you must use your washing machine...


Sometimes, our laziness gets the best of us. So, in the case that you do decide to resort to this method, be sure to wash your bras and undies in a mesh washing bag (bonus if it's a sustainable one), and always hook the backs to prevent snagging. Keeping your delicates protected in a bag will ensure they don't get tossed and beaten among the rest of your laundry. Once your cycle has finished, lay your lingerie flat on a drying rack or hang dry (seriously, never ever throw them in the dryer).

The Earthling Co. Cotton Mesh Produce Bags - 3 Pack, $, available at The Earthling Co.

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