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How to Wash Your Underwear in a Washing Machine

Undies can be tricky, so here are some tips!

Updated Reading Time: 2 minutesWritten by Eunice Samson

Washing underwear in a washing machine

You’ve probably heard that simply tossing underwear in the washing machine is wrong… this is correct! There are many other reasons for this, but the most important one is that some underwear need special care. And we know clean underwear is one of those essentials in life; but there are right and wrong ways to wash your underwear in the washing machine. Careless washing will wear out your underwear’s elasticity, color, and durability. So, read on for tips on how to wash underwear in the washing machine.

Oh, and whether you decide to machine-wash or handwash your underwear, remember to choose a gentle or mild detergent since underwear has direct contact with our skin!


Washing Underwear in the Washing Machine:

Sort your underwear into categories:

  1. Cotton Underwear

    Separate into dark colors and white/light colors, and wash separately. Machine wash warm (not hot), and best to hang out to dry. If you must tumble dry, do so at low heat.

  2. Microfiber and Other Synthetic Fabrics

    Any synthetic fabrics made of nylon, polyamide, and spandex are stretchy and quick-drying but can melt in the heat. Wash in cool water, on a basic cycle. Do not tumble dry. Only air-dry in the shade.

  3. Bras

    Read the garment care tags to see if your bra can be machine-washed. Many bras should only be washed on a delicate cycle. You may want to zip up any delicate bras in a mesh bag for protection. Hook your bras closed before washing, so they don’t snag on anything else. Bras should always be hung dry, as the heat and action from a tumble-dryer can permanently misshape most bras.

  4. Delicate Lingerie, Sheer, or Mesh Undergarments

    We recommend hand washing these items, especially anything silk or particularly lacy or frilly. If the garment care tags say machine-wash is okay, machine wash them only on the most delicate cycle and zip up in a protective bag. Dry by laying them flat.

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If you choose to hand-wash underwear, remember not to wring or twist these items, as that will damage them. Instead, squeeze or press the water out.

Other tips on washing underwear in the washing machine:

  • Read the garment care tag.

  • Pre-treat any stains immediately.

  • Turn your underwear inside out.

  • Delicate garments like lingerie and some bras should be zipped into a mesh bag for protection.

  • Don’t wash with other clothes as these can damage your underwear during the cycle.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequently asked questions on washing your underwear

How do you disinfect underwear?

If you're wondering how to disinfect underwear without washing it, we've got you covered. You could try spraying your smalls with an antibacterial spray. Alternatively, for white undies a little bleach goes a long way. Finally, did you know that ironing your underwear can also help to sterilize it?

How do you dry underwear fast?

There are a few steps we recommend taking in your hunt to learn how to dry underwear fast. First, wring out the excess water using a high spin setting. Next, roll your underwear in a towel to soak up the excess moisture, before hanging it up. Leaving your underwear to dry in a breeze is a great way to speed up the process but it could still take a couple of hours. An alternative option is to use a hairdryer to blow dry your undies.

How do you handwash a bra?

If you want to know how to hand wash bras, we've got a simple guide for you. First, fill a bowl with warm water and add a tablespoon of mild detergent. Place your bras into the solution and allow them to soak for 15 minutes. Pour away the water and refill the bowl with fresh, clean water. Gently rub your bras beneath the water to remove all traces of detergent. Once your bra is free from any remnants of detergent, take the bra out of the water and gently press it to remove the excess liquid without wringing or twisting the bra. Finally, hang it to dry.

How do you remove mold from underwear?

The steps for how to remove mold from underwear are simple: all you need is a single cup of vinegar. Place the vinegar into the washing machine drum with your underwear. Run the machine on a long cycle, with detergent. The great thing about this method is not only will it leave your undies mold free, but it will also freshen up your washer!

Why is washing underwear with other clothes not recommended?

There is one main reason why washing underwear with other clothes is not recommended. Bacteria from your underwear can spread to the other clothing if you place them in the machine together, increasing risk of infection – especially if you usually use cold washes to do your laundry.

Originally published