On the back of every Sophisticated Pair receipt, we include suggested care instructions for maximizing the life of your bras, and our Bra Naked Truth series even contains an article outlining those guidelines along with additional tips. However, we are still asked by women across the globe “Do I really have to hand wash my bras?” Usually, the question broadcasts a tone of mild annoyance reminiscent of a child asking her parents why she has to clean her room before going outside to play. There may even be feet stomping.
While I exaggerate a little (and only a little), the rather valid query remains: Do you have to hand wash your bras? No, of course not. You are not obligated to do anything you don’t want to do, including bypassing the washing machine for your bathroom sink. Nevertheless, here are five reasons why you should wash your bras by hand:
- With hand washing, you control the agitation level of both the water and the items sharing space with your bras, thus ensuring sensitive components like underwires and foam cups are not distorted.
- Hook-and-eye closures are unlikely to snag other items mixed in with the bras and either damage those items or the hooks themselves.
- The excess water is gently squeezed after hand washing instead of forcing the bras to dry via wringing, whipping, or smashing against the side of a metal cylinder. Foam cups and underwires will sing your praises.
- Hand washing can prevent straps from fraying, lace and embroidery from ripping, and thin meshes from developing runs or holes
- It extends the life of your bra! With hand washing, you have the maximum control over how that bra is treated during the washing process, meaning your gentle treatment keeps the bra in top shape for significantly longer.
All of the reasons above deal with washing the bra because regardless of whether you brave the machine or stick to the ultra delicate “hand cycle,” the bras should never go into the dryer. Lay them flat or hang them up to dry, but heat should never be part of the equation. Never.
In all fairness, some bras do have a lower risk of destruction in the washing machine. Unpadded bras usually fair better because padding and foam are both more sensitive to the agitation and compression. Often, foam cups which ventured too frequently into the laundry room will return with the weaker points (typically the top or center of the cup) curling upward and outward. The foam/padding also loses its natural shape which impacts how the bra fits and lift. Some unpadded bras feature additional design elements like embroidery or lace that may be damaged by the washing machine as well, but it’s at least a little safer for them.
Then, there’s the underwire. Underwire can be twisted and strained so much by the washing machine that it will breakthrough the fabric and pop out faster. If the underwire becomes distorted, the fit and comfort of the bra nosedives, and even if there is nothing visibly wrong, the bra will not feel as supportive and comfortable. Consequently, wireless, unpadded bras have the lowest risks associated with washing machine.
On a personal note, I only hand wash my bras, and I have yet to have an underwire pop out, a strap fray, or a delicate piece of lace/embroidery rip. In fact, I recently donated some of the bras I had worn for well over a year. The only thing wrong with them? The bands stretched out too much. To facilitate the ease of cleaning my lingerie, I either wash it after work as needed or on the weekends while cleaning my bathroom. I find that if I incorporate washing them as part of a routine, it makes the process easier and faster.
Bottom Line: Hand washing is not essential, but I highly recommend it!