How to Properly Hand Wash Bras

These five easy steps will ensure your delicates stay in tip-top shape.

Close up image of woman smiling while laying across a bed in a sage green bra
Photo: Delmaine Donson/Getty Images

Bras are called delicates for a reason. The important yet sometimes annoying article of clothing demands the utmost care when it comes to cleaning. Unlike most of your clothes, you can't just toss a bra in the washer and dryer and call it a day. And, if you're currently doing that, please, I beg of you, stop it.

The best way to clean your bras is to wash them by hand.

Washing a bra in the washing machine isn't the end of the world, but putting it in the dryer is about the worst thing you can do to it. If you want to use the washing machine to clean your bras, at least hook the clasps closed and launder them inside a lingerie bag to protect them. Once clean, hang them up to dry — but know that the washing machine is harsh on bras and can wreck them pretty quickly, even if you're careful.

The dryer will legitimately ruin your bras. The heat can wreak havoc on the elastic, breaking it down and stretching it out, which means you'll have to replace your bra more often. I've also had many bra clasps get bent out of shape and ripped off in the dryer on days when I was too careless to hang them to dry. Lesson learned.

Hand washing bras is clearly the safer route. You've likely spent a lot of money on them, and they give you support day in and day out. The least you can do is take care of them in kind. Here's how to hand wash bras in a few easy steps.

Close up photo of a neutral tone bra, zoomed in at the bra clasp
eyepark/Getty Images

Step One: Look at the Label Before Washing

Make sure to check the care labels on your bras before any kind of washing. Most likely, they'll be just fine being hand washed in your sink with a little bit of detergent and care.

Step Two: Dab Out Any Spots

If your bra has any stains on it, you'll want to tackle those first. Just use a regular laundry detergent here, and gently clean the dirty spot with your hands. You're washing it just like you'd spot clean any other article of clothing before laundering it. This gives the soap a little extra time to work on getting out the stain.

Step Three: Place Your Bra in the Sink with Water and Soap

Make sure your bathroom or kitchen sink is clean and fill it up with warm water and some laundry detergent. Place your bras in the sink to soak and give them a little twirl with your hands to make sure they're completely covered and wet. Once fully soaked through, use your hands to clean the fabric. Work the soap through and make sure you cover the whole area.

Step Four: Rinse

After the bras are fully cleaned, drain the sink (or switch over to another sink or the bathtub) and rinse them off. Make sure to rinse them fully so there's no lingering soap anywhere. Think of it like shampooing your hair — all the soap has to come out for the bras to be completely clean.

Step Five: Lay Dry or Hang Dry

There are a couple of ways to go about drying the bras. One option is to lay them flat on a towel so that the towel will soak up the water as the bra dries. However, you should check that the towel or towels do not get over-saturated with water as the bras are drying, otherwise, the bras will be sitting on a wet towel not drying. A better bet is to hang them to dry.

Using either a foldable clothes dryer or even your shower curtain rod, drape the bra over it so it's folded in half and one cup is on each side. Don't hang the bras by the straps, because it can pull the fabric out of shape while wet. Hanging it from the middle puts the least amount of strain on the fabric.

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