How To Properly Wash & Care For Your Underwear To Keep Them In Good Condition

ThirdLove cotton underwear in seasonal colors

So you’ve refreshed your underwear drawer with your fave wedgie-free undies, now what? We’ve got you covered with our expert tips on how to keep your undies going strong. Truth is most of us don’t think twice about how we care for our undies long term. But when you go for better quality and luxe fabrics, there’s a bit of care that goes into keeping them that way. Our Fit Stylists did all the work for you and figured out the best way to keep your favorite ThirdLove undies in top shape.


Washing Your Underwear: The Basics

We talk a lot about washing your bras properly to extend their life cycle. Believe it or not the same goes for your underwear. Think back to Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment bathroom full of hand washed bras and undies — there’s a woman who knew how to care for her lingerie. You won’t have to hang your undies around the house, but it’s an idea. Before you toss them in the wash, take a second check the care instructions on your delicate underwear. Here are our top tips to keep any underwear clean and cared for like the comfy staples they are.


Tip 1: Wash Underwear Separately

Keeping your underwear separate from your clothes has a few benefits. First, when you separate your undies, you’re keeping the bacteria that comes with them off of your clothing. You might think it all gets washed and it’s clean right? Not exactly. There are easily 10K bacteria in every one cup of laundry water. So when you’re throwing everything in together you’re adding all of the bacteria from your undies to the mix and that’s no good. Washing undies solo gives you more control over the temperature of the water and what detergent you use. Also, washing your underwear with tougher fabrics can create tears or snags in the fabric.


Tip 2: Wash Your Underwear at 60-90℉

The bacteria that live on our undies has to be washed between 60-90℉ to break down the bacteria’s protective wall and kill it off. Depending on what you’re washing when you wash everything all together, you may not be washing at the right temperature. So if you can, wash your undies on their own to make sure none of the bacteria there gets transferred to your clothes and vice versa.


Tip 3: Kill Bacteria With Gentle Detergent

Your undies touch the most delicate parts of your body, so it’s important that you wash them with a gentle detergent. If you use just any regular detergent you might irritate your super sensitive skin. Plus, now that you’re washing your undies separately you won’t need to worry about using a heavier cleanser on things like jeans or jackets.


Tip 4: You Can Hand Wash Or Machine Wash Your Undies

There’s no one size fits all on care for your undies here. Our recommendation is that anything with a lace or delicate material you think might unravel or get snagged should be hand washed. What’s important is the detergent and water temperature. If you don’t have time to hand wash, you can try the delicate cycle and use a wash bag. Don’t worry, we’ve got tips for hand washing below.


Everyday Lace underwear bikini style by ThirdLove

Machine Washing

While hand washing is most often your best option as it gives more control, a machine washer can be a lifesaver on busy days. But before you toss your delicates in with the towels, here’s how to clean women’s underwear using a machine. When loading the washing machine, make sure to separate your underwear from heavier items like jeans or towels. You don’t want to damage your delicates. Invest in a mesh laundry bag specifically designed for undergarments. 

Most washing machines will have a ‘delicate’ or ‘hand wash’ cycle. This is the setting to use. It uses a slower spin speed and cooler water temperature, which is gentler on your underwear. Stick to a cool or warm water temperature, ideally between 60-90℉.

Be sure to use a mild, hypoallergenic detergent and avoid fabric softeners, as they can break down the elastic in your underwear over time. Also, wash your underwear in small, manageable loads to ensure thorough cleaning without excessive wear and tear.


Hand Washing

Hand washing is the way to go for the most delicate fabrics, such as silk, lace, or other underwear, that require extra TLC. If you hand wash, avoid twisting, wringing, or scrubbing the fabric, as this can damage the delicate fibers. Instead, use your hands to squeeze and lift them through the soapy water gently. Also, thoroughly rinse your underwear until all traces of detergent are removed. Hand washing your new underwear before wearing it is also a good idea. Learning to wash new underwear properly ensures longevity and helps remove any chemicals used in manufacturing.


How to Hand Wash Delicates

All you need is a sink, your detergent, a wash cloth, and a towel. First take your washcloth, drip it in water mixed with your detergent. Spot clean any stains on your underwear. Then put your undies in the sink and allow them to soak in warm water before you gently work the fabric. You’ll see some suds after a bit, so you’ll know it’s time to rinse. Once you’ve rinsed away all the detergent from the fabric, you can lay your clean undies out flat on a dry towel or hang dry them. These hand washing tips can work for your fave bras too.


Hang Dry Your Undies for Best Results

Hanging your delicates to dry keeps them out of high temperatures of the dryer. Depending on what fabric your undies are made of and if they have an elastic band like most do. Hanging your undies keeps the elastic from breaking down over time. When your elastic breaks down, they likely won’t stay up and slip down as you walk (no one wants that). So hang them on a drying rack and to keep them good as new.

Now you know the secret to keeping your undies as good as new until it’s time for an undie drawer revamp. Our recommendation is to change out your undies at least once a year, but twice a year if you can. Join our email list for more lingerie tips and tricks.


How to Tumble Dry Your Undies

While air drying is always the preferred method, there may be times when you need to dry your underwear quickly. Before tossing them in the dryer, check the care label for specific drying instructions. While some materials like cotton and microfiber may be suitable for tumble drying, other fabrics, such as silk, require air drying.

Set the dryer to a “low heat” or delicate setting. High heat will break down elastics and shrink fabrics. Toss a couple of dryer balls into the dryer with your underwear. These will help absorb moisture and improve airflow, reducing drying time. 

Finally, don’t set and forget; remove your underwear after the cycle is finished. Overdying can cause the elastic to become brittle and the fabric to shrink. If you notice any dump spots, you can give the load an extra 5-10 minutes of drying time. If necessary, reshape them while they’re still warm.

Best Ways to Store Your Underwear

Undergarment storage is a quintessential yet oft-neglected facet of wardrobe management that demands meticulous attention. Ditch the balling-up method! It might save time in the morning rush, but it can stretch out the elastics and cause wrinkles. Instead, fold your underwear neatly. A simple tri-fold method works well for most styles. 

Invest in drawer dividers to keep your undies organized and separated. They not only make it easier to find what you are looking for but also prevent underwear from getting tangled or crushed. You can also use lingerie bags to keep everything separate and tidy.

Store your underwear in a dry, well-ventilated drawer to prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to mold or mildew growth. Additionally, one may place fragrant lavender or cedar sachets to help absorb moisture and deter moths.

When it’s time to wear a new pair, rotate through your collection. It will help you ensure even wear and avoid overstretching one pair. Now that you know how to clean undergarments, you can ensure your underwear serves you better and for a longer time.