Sustainability made simple

How to Wash Bras and Underwear: Tips for Germ-Free Laundry

how to wash underwear
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Karolina Grabowska

Should bras and underwear be washed differently than other clothes? Are high temperatures necessary to kill germs? We’ll show you how to wash bras and underwear in the most environmentally friendly way, while still following proper hygiene rules.

The goal of doing laundry is to rid your clothes of stains and smells. When it comes to washing undergarments, the priority is to kill bacteria and germs, but using high temperatures and intense chemical detergents in the washing machine isn’t always very good for the environment. We’ll show you how to wash bras and underwear properly, and sustainably.

Depending on the fabric of your underwear, hand washing might be the best method. Wash fabrics like silk and lace, or underwear that has any sort of special prints or adhesives (like rhinestones) by hand with mild detergent. This method is much gentler on the fibers and prevents the underwear from shrinking. 

Washing Your Delicates: How to Wash Bras

how to wash bras
Storing your bras flat after washing is the best way to keep the shape and prolong their wearability. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Fahad Waseem )
  • The general rule of thumb is that you should wash your bras after three to four wears — sometimes even earlier, depending on how much you sweat.
  • It’s best to hand-wash bras in lukewarm water using washing soap or mild detergent. Let the bras soak in the soapy water for about half an hour before rinsing them with clean water.
  • When using a washing machine, choose a cold-water, delicate cycle with a mild detergent. Fasten the bra to keep it from snagging other garments during the cycle. 
  • Consider using a mesh laundry bag (available on Amazon**) in order to best preserve the shape and elasticity of the bra. 
  • Air dry! Whether you hang them up outside, on off the doorknobs in your house, air drying is the best way to maintain the form, with the added bonus of less electricity being used!

How to Wash Underwear Properly

washing underwear
Air drying underwear is a great way to cut down on energy, but keep in mind that the sun may bleach the color! (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Andreea Popa )

When it comes to doing laundry, choosing the right cycle goes a long way towards helping the environment. Most people assume you have to use a long, hot cycle to get rid of germs, but it turns out that the germ-killing factor in your laundry machine is the detergent, not the water temperature. That’s why contrary to popular belief, as long as you are using detergent, a cold water cycle will still remove and rinse out germs, all while using much less energy than a warm cycle would.

That’s not to say that warm-temperature cycles don’t have their place. Experts recommend washing on hot at least once a month in order to eliminate biofilms and clean your machine. Read more about cleaning your washing machine here: Your Washing Machine Smells? Get Rid of Washing Machine Odors Using These Home Remedies.

Hot water temperatures are also great, for example, if you’re trying to remove certain kinds of stubborn stains. However, you can often avoid hot water cycles if you pre-treat stains by rinsing them in cold water and using a stain remover bar from a company like Ethique (available on Amazon**) 

Choosing the right detergent also plays a factor in how hygienic and environmentally friendly a cycle is. Heavy-duty detergents with bleach and fabric softeners aren’t great for the environment. Consider using citric acid to brighten your whites and soften your fabrics instead, and stick with a mild, bleach-free detergent.

To save time, money, and energy, wait until you have enough laundry to fill the whole drum, and then hang your underwear out to dry. Air drying is always the most environmentally friendly option for drying clothes. If you are using a dryer, however, avoid shrinkage by using low temperatures. Pure cotton is especially susceptible to shrinkage.

This article has been translated from German by Karen Stankiewicz. You can find the original here: Unterwäsche waschen: Programm und Temperatur für keimfreie Wäsche

Important Information regarding Health-related Topics.

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