How to Keep Bras & Panties Looking New

by M.H. Dyer

Lingerie is a substantial part of the clothing budget for most women, but it's money well-spent because fresh, new bras and panties make you feel confident and beautiful, even if nobody sees your undies but you. However, regular wear and repeated laundering eventually causes bras and panties to look worn and shabby. While you can't expect bras and panties to last forever, they last longer, look prettier and provide more support with proper care.

Caring for the Support System

Launder bras after every two or three wearings. Wash athletic bras after each wearing.

Hand-wash bras in a sink or basin with warm water and a gentle detergent formulated for delicate hand-washables. Soak the bras in the warm water and detergent for up to one hour before washing if the bra is badly soiled.

Rinse the bra thoroughly in cool water. Lay the bra flat on a thick towel, then cover it with a second towel and press gently to remove excess water.

Hang the bra to finish drying.

Store molded cup bras separately from regular bras. Don't bend or fold the cups.

Mentioning the Unmentionables

Launder cotton panties in the washing machine with hot or warm water and regular laundry detergent if the care tag indicates that machine washing is safe. Although machine washing is appropriate for most cotton panties, you can also wash the panties by hand.

Wash silk, nylon or spandex blend panties by hand, using lukewarm water and a detergent for delicate hand washables. Squeeze the panties gently to remove excess water, but don't twist or wring.

Hang-dry panties. Avoid the dryer, which shortens the life of the elastic.

Items you will need

  • Gentle detergent for delicate hand-washables
  • Towels


  • Brighten dingy panties and bras with color-safe, non-chlorine bleach. Measure the product carefully according to the label directions. Always mix the detergent and bleach into the water before adding lingerie.
  • Bra manufacturers advise that hand-washing is the best way to keep a bra looking new. If you decide to launder your bra in the washing machine, fasten the clasps, then put the bra in a mesh laundry bag with other delicate garments. Set the machine on the delicate or gentle cycle, then wash the items with cool water and gentle detergent.


  • Never dry bras in an electric dryer, even on low heat. Heat and tumble-drying wear out the elastic quickly.
  • Never use chlorine bleach on lingerie or bras. Although chlorine bleach may be safe for white, 100 percent cotton garments, the bleach will weaken the elastic and shorten the life of the lingerie. Color-safe bleach is less toxic and easier on delicate fabrics.

About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.

Photo Credits

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