I'm going to start this series by talking about washing. It's really crucial to wash all clothing, whether lingerie, delicates or regular items, according to the instructions on the label. These laundry symbols can be really tricky to decipher but I've found a great site called Super Savvy Me that has a post explaining what they all mean. I had no idea about some of them so I will be examining my garment labels much more closely from now on to ensure I wash everything as per the instructions to prolong the life of my clothing and lingerie. I also found this post very useful as it explains how to keep different fabrics in great condition, and this post on how to solve some common laundry issues.
Before I really learned about lingerie, I just used to throw my bras in the washing machine with everything else. That's because my mum always washed hers in the same way - it was quick, simple and effective. Yes, I used to feel cross when my lovely powder pink Freya Millie bras used to come out greyed and aged but it never occurred to me that I might be doing something wrong in terms of washing my lingerie.
Since finding out about properly fitted bras and reading up (a lot!) on lingerie in general, I have gained a lot of knowledge about how to care for my lingerie and delicate clothing. I wanted to share some of this on the blog in case it might be useful for others to read.
The greatest piece of advice I can offer you is: DO NOT MACHINE WASH YOUR LINGERIE. Well, you can of course wash your lingerie however you wish but if you want it to last longer, retain its shape and support better and to generally keep it in decent condition you should keep it as far away from a washing machine as possible. The vigorous motion of a machine can ruin a bra's wires and the detergent can damage the elastic, as well as causing misshapen cups and stretched bands. Even if you use the 'delicates' or 'hand-wash' cycle it is not a good idea if you are hoping to keep your lingerie in tip top condition.
So, how should you wash it? Hand-washing is the answer. I appreciate that the prospect may fill you with dread as it sounds laborious and time-consuming but it's just about getting yourself into a good routine and keeping up to date with your lingerie laundry basket.
A really important factor is deciding what detergent to wash your lingerie with. The main thing to remember is NOT to use regular laundry detergent as it is too powerful for delicate lingerie pieces and it will cause damage very quickly. Instead, you could use a hand-wash/delicate/wool detergent from a supermarket, a specialist hand-washing product or even something as simple as baby shampoo. The latter is my favourite as it is super cheap (especially if you buy the supermarket's own version, rather than a brand) and washes out really easily as it is so mild.
Image courtesy of Tesco
Soak is a specialist hand-washing detergent that's super mild and ideal for items such as lingerie and wool pieces. There are a variety of options available and what's great is that you don't have to rinse it out when washing regular hand-wash clothes, although rinsing is recommended for any underwear garments. I was lucky enough to win this selection in a competition run by The Full Figured Chest a while ago and I was really pleased with the results Soak gave.
Image courtesy of Tesco
Tesco's own baby shampoo smells really lovely and not necessarily typically 'baby-like'. It's so easy to use for cleaning lingerie and I often buy it as a cleansing shampoo for my hair before using my regular more expensive shampoo and conditioner.
So, once you've decided upon which soap you are going to use, the next step is to choose how to wash your lingerie. There are a number of hand-washing methods you can use and I've detailed a couple of them below. I tend to use the first one when I have several items to wash at once and the second when I only have one or two.
The traditional method.
Fill either the sink, basin or bath with tepid water. Don't use hot water as it can cause damage. Add your chosen detergent to the water and ensure it is all mixed in.
Next, place your items in the water. Gently agitate them to help loosen any dirt, and, if necessary, very carefully and lightly rub away any stains. Concentrate on working the mild suds through the wires of your bra, the underarm area and the band as this is where sweat bacteria can accumulate. I also like to work the water through the other areas of the bra, including the cups and straps, to ensure it has been thoroughly washed.
Now leave the items to soak in the water for at least 10 minutes.
After a time, I gently swirl the items around in the water before emptying the sink/basin/bath and pressing the excess liquid out of the garments. Gently rinse the soap out under a running cold tap until the water runs clear. I do this one item at a time so it can be a bit time-consuming but it's worth being thorough to ensure all the soapy residue has been washed out. Press out the water until the items are no longer dripping and then either lie them flat on a towel to dry or hang each bra from the straps on a separate coat hanger (I then hang the hangers on a curtain rail). They usually take around a day to thoroughly dry, but it depends on the warmth and humidity of the room in which they are placed.
The speedy method.
This is the technique I use when I'm in a hurry and only want to wash one or two items at a time. It's simple - I wash my bra in the shower (not whilst wearing it, of course!).
Take the bra in the shower and rinse it through under the running water, keeping the temperature as cool as possible. Take a generous handful of baby shampoo and apply it to one of the cups of the bra, spreading the soap to the underarm area, wires, band and straps. Baby shampoo froths up really easily so it's simple to spread the bubbles to all sections of the bra. Repeat the process on the other cup and gently rub the bra between the palms of your hands to get it clean.
Once completed, run the bra under the shower to rinse out all the soap. This shouldn't take too long as the water pressure from the shower will get the suds out very efficiently.
When the water runs clear, I carefully squeeze out the excess liquid and pop the bra onto the bath mat while I finish off my shower. When I get out, I hang the bra on a coat hanger and leave it in my spare room to dry. Again, it usually takes around a day to dry completely. This shower washing process only takes around 5 minutes so it's a great option if time is of the essence.
In winter months I use a dehumidifier to help my laundry dry more quickly as I don't have a tumble dryer and of course it would not be appropriate to dry lingerie in one in any case. A dehumidifier sucks the moisture out of the air in a room, so it's ideal for drying clothes and lingerie without damaging it. They can be fairly expensive to buy, depending on which model you choose (mine was a lower-end model at around £100), but they are a great investment and of course can come in handy if you ever get damp in your house.
I wash my bras after every wear to ensure they stay fresh and clean. This means keeping up to date with my lingerie washing which can sometimes prove tricky but it's worth the effort to keep these items in great condition, meaning that they will last much longer.
There are heaps of great resources available on the internet about hand-washing lingerie, including:
I hope this post has given you some tips on how best to wash lingerie. What's your washing method of choice? Do you carefully hand-wash or are you guilty of using a washing machine as I used to? Do you think it really makes a difference?