Skip to content
Laundry

How to Wash Lingerie

Delicate items like lingerie need washing just like the rest of your clothes, but they need to be washed with extra care. Learn how to wash lingerie here!

The method that you use to wash lingerie can determine how long it lasts and how good it looks, so whether you habitually buy expensive, beautiful lingerie or just want to make sure you get the best out of the underwear you own, it’s important to know the best ways of washing lingerie and how to protect it.

Although it might sound time consuming to give your lingerie special attention in your washing regime, with this complete guide to washing delicate underwear, you can choose how much extra effort you put in, and will be in the swing of a lingerie washing routine that suits you before you can say pants to that!

How to Wash Underwear by Hand

Most lingerie care instructions recommend hand washing and this certainly seems to be the best way to make your delicates last a long time. First, you’ll need a specialist washing detergent for hand washing and for delicates, like OMO Powder combined with Comfort. Harsh or regular detergents should never be used on bras and underwear if you don’t want them to deteriorate! Remember to follow the recommendations on the packaging of your detergent and test, diluted, on an inconspicuous spot, if you have not used a product previously.

To wash lingerie by hand, soak your garments in a clean washing up bowl or sink, using a mild solution of washing detergent and cold to lukewarm water. Check the care instructions as some materials can only handle cold water, and never use temperatures of over 30°C. You should also be sure to separate whites, colours, and blacks. If you’re really concerned about vivid colours running or fading, especially when washing new lingerie, it’s best to wash these items in isolation.

Rubbing is not always necessary when hand washing underwear, and should be avoided where possible. However, you can very gently agitate your lingerie whilst it’s soaking, pushing it down and letting it float up again repeatedly to loosen grime, and paying particular attention to bra underwires and straps, in order to ensure that the water and detergent comes into contact with the entire surface so that it can work its magic effectively.

Unlike soaking most regular clothing items, it’s very important not to leave your underwear in water for too long. Up to an hour is normally sufficient for hand washing lingerie and shouldn’t cause any damage.

After soaking delicate lingerie, you should rinse it with cold water from the tap, and if you are not satisfied that the garments are completely clean, repeat the soak and rinse method until you are happy that your underwear is fresh.

How to Wash Underwear in the Washing Machine

Although it may not be ideal, when time is short, washing your lingerie in the washing machine can be the only option. Here are some top tips for cleaning lingerie in the washing machine that could help you out in a time of need:

  1. Read the care labels to make sure that the garment can be washed safely in the machine.
  2. Do not mix colours and do not mix lingerie with other clothes or heavy items like towels.
  3. Always use a specialised detergent for delicates.
  4. Use a cold washing machine setting, never above 30°C, and ensure a short cycle is selected when washing lingerie. The ‘delicates’ or ‘hand wash’ cycle is usually a good bet.
  5. Purchase a lingerie wash bag to protect your lingerie in the washing machine, in order to prevent your delicates from becoming misshapen or developing bobbles where threads have been pulled.
  6. If you do have to use the washing machine to wash lingerie, it’s extra important to dry your undergarments carefully, reshaping them as soon as they’re out of the machine and laying them flat on a towel to dry rather than hanging where possible.
  7. Never leave your lingerie sitting in the washing machine after the cycle has finished – be sure to take it out right away when the alarm goes off and don’t put a cycle on if you won’t be home when it finishes.
  8. No matter what, you should never put your lingerie in the tumble dryer as the hot temperatures will seriously decrease its lifespan, as well as shrinking and leaving your undergarments out of shape.

There you have it! No matter how much time you have to do your lingerie laundry, there is a solution that will get your garments clean, without hurting their delicate structure.

Cleanipedia recommends


No one wants misshapen lingerie with holes in it! To avoid damaging your underwear in the wash, use a mild detergent specially designed for washing delicates – like OMO Powder combined with Comfort. If hand washing, you should not wring out or twist the items dry. Instead, squeeze or press out the excess water (using a clean towel to help soak up the excess water) to prevent damage.