How do you wash bras in the washing machine?

How do you wash a bra in the washing machine
Asking yourself, "How Do you wash bras in the washing machine?" ... This bra washing guide is going to be a helpful resource for you.

Bra washing guide

Understanding how to wash your bras, and why they need to be cared for differently to your other clothes will go a long way in ensuring you get the beast life span and support out of your bras. In this article I’ll certainly answer the common question “How do you wash bras in the washing machine?”, along with other tips to preventing damage during the washing and drying process. 

Why bras can't just be thrown in the washing machine

Most bras, and I am not talking about basic crop tops here, are made up over 30 – 40 individual elements. With a mix of elastics, cottons, polyester, mesh and metal components on almost all commercially available bras. 

The washing machine is a designed to twist, shake and wring our garments in order to get the dirt and grime out of them. This genuinely torments bras.  While a simple garment can generally withstand this well, a complex piece like a bra will stretch and distort in the washing machine. 

As a bra is twisted, stretched and wrung out the fabrics will quickly stretch out and subsequently lose their ability to support us. (Don’t know that most of the support from your bra comes from the fit around your ribcage? Read about that here)

I always ask my customers this… “Would you put a fancy sequinned shirt in the washing machine?”, and the answer is almost always no. Why? Because there are too many delicate pieces that could become damaged in the washing machine. Your bras should be treated like one of these fancy blouses. They too are made up with lots of delicate components. 

What will happen to my bra is wash machine wash it?

When customers ask if they “really have to hand wash their bras?” my comment is always this… If you are prepared to replace your bras when one of the above issues happens prematurely then go for it. If this will frustrate you then definitely do not choose this option. These common washing machine issues WILL happen if you wash your bras in the wash. You may not realise it immediately, but it will be happening. 

         👉🏽  Read our ‘Best Bra Colour Under a White Shirt blog (the answer will shock you!)

How do you wash bras in the washing machine?

Pat's 4 step machine washing guide for bras

Step 1: Prepare your bra

One the easiest things to do right is to ensure all hook and eye clasps are done up. If there are 4 hooks then do up all 4 hooks (don’t cut any corners here). If there is only 1 hook then obviously ensure this is done up. Hooks that are not done up will gat caught in the holes in the washing machine drum and this is what causes the hooks to bend and twist. 

Secondly, if there are any j-hooks or clasps that the back to bring the straps in together then this also need to be done up. This will otherwise have the same risk as not doing up the hook and eyes. 

Thirdly, if there are velcro straps then these should definitely (an absolute non-negotiable step) need to be fully adhered.  

Step 2: Use a suitable washbag + detergent

The next step is to ensure you place your bra in a suitably sizes wash bag. In an ideal sense, you want your wash bag to be just big enough to fit your bra/bras. You don’t want room for the bra to displace around in the wash bag. This is why I like the sort of wash bag I have pictured below. 

Opting for a delicate lingerie wash is also a great luxury. It isn’t the end of the world if this isn’t available to you. Be sure not to over do the amount of detergent you are using if you choose regular washing detergent. When washing any delicates I generally opt for half of what I would usually use for my regular washes. 

Step 3: Choose the right cycle

These days most washing machines have a delicates, gentle or lingerie cycle pre programmed, which is handy. Make sure to choose this. 

I strongly recommend a cool water cycle. NOT a hot water. The hot water combined with the trauma of the washing machine cycle and detergent is a nasty combination for bras and lingerie.

A short cycle is always best. My machine has a “shorten cycle” button that I also hit along side choosing the delicate cycle. It reduced the wash down to 20 minutes which I am really happy with. 

Step 4: Dry your bra the right way

Always make sure to hang your bras from the middle gusset (see image below) of the bra when it is drying, DON’T be tempted to hand it from the straps or even worse from one strap. Hanging from the straps will cause them to stretch with the weight of the wet heavy garment. 

Ideally laying your bras to dry flat is a great alternative as we don’t risk stretching it at all, but I know this isn’t always an option. 

This is an example of how to hang your bras from the gusset to dry

Is it best to hand wash bras?

I have to be straight with you here and the truth is YES, it’s substantially better to hand wash your bras. Machine washing following the guide above is the second best option but doesn’t come close to being as good as treating your bras with the respect they deserve and hand washing them. 

TIP: Almost all bras will be marked with Hand Wash Only. 

This is because with all their individual elements they simply are not designed to cope with the trauma of machine cycle. 

Brands will not usually replace faulty garments if they have been machine washed. And yes, it’s extremely easy to tell if a bra has been machine washed.  The most dreadful experiences I have working in retail is when someone tries to convince us of a fault with the bra that was so clearly caused by machine washing, and they are choosing to deny it. Please don’t do this to retailers, it’s simply not fair. 

how to wash sticky bras


I hope you have found this bra washing guide helpful. 

Remember to follow the rules above and I have no doubt you’ll minimize the issues so many women have with their bras, and maximize the life and support you get from your important daily support solution. 

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