Washing Underwear: The Definitive Guide

Unsure about whether to machine wash or hand wash your underwear? Can you wash it all together? And what about that silk pair of knickers? 

The aim when washing your underwear is to achieve an item that is clean, hygienic and still intact. Here we discuss the steps to take to ensure you achieve this.

The Basics to Washing Underwear

Once you’ve determined it’s safe for the washing machine, it will help you further down the line if you pre-treat any stains. To do this simply apply a small amount of washing detergent to the affected area and gently rub it with your hand.

Something that isn’t included on the label but is sometimes advised is to turn your underwear inside out, to allow the cleaning products to attack any stains head-on and give you the best chance of killing bacteria.

Using a laundry bag is also advisable as this will help prevent any damage to the delicate garments from snagging on the inside of your washing machine.

Whether you separate different types of underwear out to wash separately is entirely personal preference but generally if you have soiled underwear (such as a toddler’s) you will reduce the risk of transferring any bacteria by washing on its own.

There has been some coverage in the media recently about the best temperature to wash underwear. As a rule of thumb, it is always best to follow the recommendation on the label, but it is generally advisable to wash items between 40-60 degrees. The higher the temperate the more likely you are to kill any lurking bacteria.

When it comes to washing underwear with other items of clothing, again this can be personal preference, but it’s probably not desirable to group underwear that has been worn on your private areas with the tea towels used in your kitchen.

Washing Underwear & Lingerie

Environmental Factors When Washing Underwear

Another factor to consider which is a modern-day concern is the impact your washing has on the environment. For example, it would be a waste of not only water and energy but also detergent if you don’t fill your machine and prefer to do multiple, smaller washes. In some cases, this can’t be helped but it is generally best to wash as full a load as possible.

It can be good to think about the frequency we clean items. Naturally you wouldn’t wear the same pair of pants two days in a row, but you should be able to get away with washing an everyday bra after around three wears.

This could help cut down on how many times a week you are loading the washing machine, which goes hand in hand with being environmentally conscious.

How to Hand Wash Underwear

You may choose to hand wash your underwear as they can be quite delicate items and you might not want to risk ruining them in the washing machine.

Equally, certain items such a silk will recommended that they are either washed by hand or dry-cleaned only.

If you do decide to hand wash something, there are a few simple rules to follow.

As with machine washing, you will need to pre-treat any stains beforehand.

Wash your items in a clean sink. If you are washing silk, you will want to use cold or lukewarm water to minimise any damage or misshaping.

Before you dive right in with the detergent it is vital to ensure that there is no colour loss to the item. Once wet, dab a soaked cotton swab on a hidden area of the garment and check if any colour has been transferred. If it has, it is not recommended you continue with the washing process and take the item to a dry cleaner.

When you’ve determined the item is safe to wash, add a small amount of detergent to the water, soak the items for a few minutes and give them a good stir within the sink.

Rinse the garments with clean water, remove from the sink and allow the water to drain, avoiding any squeezing or manipulating of the items.

Drying Your Underwear

Whether they’ve been machine washed or hand washed, you can either hang the garments out on a drying rack, or lay out on a clean, dry towel and place the underwear on top. This will avoid any them losing their shape.