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How to Wash Your Lingerie

Very little feels as luxurious as the touch of lavish fabrics gliding against the skin. And in the case of lingerie, the feel of the fabric only adds to the experience of wearing the garment. All the sultry details of lingerie combined with delicate materials make for unforgettable yet carefree moments of abandon— Moments where the furthest thing from our mind is how to properly clean lingerie. Which is how it should be. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other moments where we should be thinking about how best to keep our favorite delicate pieces in good condition. If for no other reason than that they can be worn again and again without issue.

Knowing the ins and outs of cleaning lingerie is an important skill that will greatly benefit you and your clothes. From saving money, maintaining good hygiene habits, and adding life to your favorite pieces, properly washing delicate items is definitely know-how you’ll want to use all the time. So, whether you’ve never thought twice about cleaning your lingerie or just feel like you need a refresher course, don’t worry, this guide will walk you through where to start and all the best practices of how to care for your lingerie.

Step 1: Gather What You Need

There are a couple of methods to washing lingerie, but the two most common are washing by hand or with a washing machine. Below you will find step by step instructions for each method, but before you get started, here are the materials you will need no matter how you choose to go about it.

Step 2: Sort Your Fabrics

The first step after gathering what you need to get started is to separate your lingerie pieces into categories of color and material.

  • Separate by Material

    Separating your lingerie based upon material is the most important step because taking the same steps with lingerie of different fabrics can dramatically change the result. And if your fabric is delicate enough such as silk, then you could ruin the garment after just one use.

    First, separate any and all items that require extra care. These fabrics are leather and silk. As noted above, the delicate and natural aspects of these kinds of materials require a bit of special attention.

    Second, separate the rest of your intimates by structure and material. Set apart items with lace detailing, padded push-ups, underwire, boning (such as with a corset), or really anything that feels particularly fragile. ideally these items should be washed by hand but can be machine washed with special instructions. Other items like non-wire underwear and bras and cotton are a bit sturdier.

  • Separate by Color

    What’s fun about many types of cleaning is that the rules that apply to the easiest of items to clean tend to also apply to the more complicated. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the next step is to separate your intimates by like colors.

    When you’re washing clothing items, especially for the first time, there can be residual dye not fully washed out in the fabric. This coloring can bleed out and stain other clothes within a wash. Which is why, unless you’re interested in seeing if you can turn your white lingerie pink, you’ll want to keep your red underwear with similar colors and keep your whites separate.

Step 3: Treat Any Spots or Stains

It’s natural for stains from make-up, sweat, body oils, skincare products like self-tanner and lotion to show up on your lingerie after wearing it. But when it comes time to wash your lingerie, you’re going to want to treat these stains first before you do anything else.

  • Spot-Treating Silk

    When it comes to washing silk, it might be best to take it to a dry cleaner. There, professionals will be able to gently treat stains without much issue and without any damage to the garment. If there’s a tough stain on your favorite silk pieces, don’t risk damage and take it to a professional.

  • Spot-Treating Faux Leather

    Faux leather is a versatile fabric so treating stains is relatively easy. Make a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar and then blot the stain with the solution until the stain is gone.

  • Spot-Treating Other Delicates

    Depending on the stain, there are different best practices for treating the build-up depending on what caused it. As a general rule, if a stain is prominent, you can spot-treat it with a delicate lingerie detergent like the Forever New Delicate Fabric Wash.

    Just mix the powder with a bit of water and let sit on the stained area for approximately 30 minutes before gently rinsing off with cool water. For tougher stains that still persist after 30 minutes, repeat this process a couple more times until the stain goes away. Feel free to treat a tougher stain with a soft-bristled brush and gently scrub the stain while it is soaking. Be careful if you do this to make sure to scrub limitedly and gently so as not to damage the lingerie.

How to Hand Wash Lingerie

Once you’re done treating the tougher stains, it’s time to move on to actually washing your lingerie. We recommend washing your lingerie by hand as it is a much gentler process than washing your items with a machine.

Hand washing with a delicate lingerie detergent is what we recommend the most. Can you wash lingerie with regular detergent? The answer is no. Most regular detergents are too harsh for the fragile materials that make up lingerie. It’s much better to invest in delicate detergent that will help to keep your intimates in tip top shape.

  • Hand Washing Silk

    • Step 1: Fill a basin, sink, or tub with cool water.
    • Step 2: Follow the instructions on the bottle of your delicate detergent and add to the water accordingly.
    • Step 3: Swirl your hand around in the water gently to create a lather.
    • Step 4: While swirling, add in your silk lingerie until fully saturated with the water.
    • Step 5: Gently massage the fabric with your hands in the water. Make sure to not scrub or pull too hard to strain or damage the weave of the silk.
    • Step 6: Let soak for 30 minutes.
    • Step 7: Drain the water and carefully rinse your garments with cool water until the garment no longer has any soap residue.
  • Hand Washing Faux Leather

    • Step 1: Fill a basin, sink, or tub with cool to warm water.
    • Step 2: Follow the instructions on the bottle of your delicate detergent and add to the water accordingly.
    • Step 3: Swirl your hand around in the water gently to create a lather.
    • Step 4: Turn your garment inside out. This is because, with faux leather, the most soiled side of the garment is the inside.
    • Step 5: Add garment to detergent-filled water.
    • Step 5: Gently massage the fabric with your hands in the water.
    • Step 6: Let soak for 5 minutes.
    • Step 7: Drain the water and carefully rinse your garments with cool water until the garment no longer has any soap residue
    • Bonus Step: After drying, condition your faux leather with a tiny amount of oil. We recommend leather or coconut oil.
  • Hand Washing Other Delicates

    • Step 1: Fill a basin, sink, or tub with cool water.
    • Step 2: Follow the instructions on the bottle of your delicate detergent and add to the water accordingly.
    • Step 3: Swirl your hand around in the water gently to create a lather.
    • Step 4: While swirling, add in your silk lingerie until fully saturated with the water.
    • Step 5: Gently massage the fabric with your hands in the water. Make sure to not scrub or pull too hard to strain or damage the weave of the lingerie.
    • Step 6: Let soak for 15 minutes (longer is okay).
    • Step 7: Drain the water and carefully rinse your garments with cool water until the garment no longer has any soap residue.

How to Machine Wash Lingerie

While hand washing is recommended, there are so many instances where it’s not possible. Whether you don’t have the time, the space, or simply would like the convenience of washing your delicates with a washing machine, here’s everything you need to know.

  • Machine Washing Silk

    Do not machine wash silk. Silk is an incredibly delicate fabric that is super easy to damage so it is best to take it to a dry cleaner or wash by hand.

  • Machine Washing Faux Leather and Other Delicates

    • Step 1: Fasten bands closed.
    • Step 2: Turn your faux leather pieces inside out.
    • Step 3: Depending on the size, place your lingerie inside a small or large delicate garment bag for soft items. For items with underwire, buckles, and padding place them in a special bra container for washing like the Bare Necessities Bra and One-Piece Saver.
    • Step 4: Place your garment bags and bra bags in the washing machine.
    • Step 5: Set your washing machine settings to delicate, with a low spin, and cold water.
    • Step 6: Add the appropriate amount of gentle lingerie detergent according to the label’s directions.
    • Step 7: Press start and wait for the cycle to complete.
    • Bonus Step: After drying, condition your faux leather with a tiny amount of oil. We recommend leather or coconut oil.

How to Dry and Store Lingerie

One of the most important steps when washing your lingerie is the drying and storage process. Which, luckily, is the same across all types of lingerie regardless of whether you’re hand or machine washing. Simply hang your garment to dry or lay your lingerie on a flat surface such as a drying rack. If there’s a lot of excess water right after washing and you don’t want that much water to drip, feel free to place your intimates in between two towels and gently press to absorb excess water. Do this before hanging or laying your garments flat to dry.

Make sure to never use the dryer to dry your lingerie as the high heat will damage your pieces and ruin important features such as fabric elasticity. Or, in the case of faux leather items like the Poi Moi Scandalous Bustier, the high heat could melt the leather and make it completely unwearable. So don’t do that, and instead let them air dry. It’s not only great for your lingerie— it’s also an eco-friendly option that can help reduce your electricity bill.

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