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How to wash lingerie: your guide to caring for delicates and shapewear

With the help of laundry expert Laura Mountford, find our complete guide to washing, drying and storing your shapewear and lingerie.

By Kat Romero | Last updated Aug 4, 2023

How to wash your lingerie

Sexy lingerie and effective shapewear can do wonders for our body confidence, even if no one else but us gets to see it. Whether it’s offering a lift or creating a more streamlined silhouette, these delicate items can become absolute staples in our wardrobe.

But with high quality fabrics often comes high maintenance washing. Keeping them clean whilst maintaining their design and shape can feel like a stressful task. Especially when you’ve splashed out your hard-earned cash on them. 

So, we’ve enlisted the help of cleaning expert Laura Mountford, who has over 500,000 followers on her Instagram @lauracleanaholic, to offer her best tips on how to wash lingerie, caring for these delicate items and ensuring our lingerie is long lasting.

If you need to stock up on some essentials, don’t miss our guides to the best shapewear, best swimsuits for women and even the best tights. You can never have too many pairs!

In this article: quick glance

1. Don’t wash your bras too often

Though it’s tempting to want to keep your lingerie as fresh and clean as possible, constant washing can break down the delicate materials and cause the fabric to wear out.

Laura explains: “Lingerie or shapewear can lose its shape with constant washing, and delicate materials can become more weak and fragile over time.

“If you want to give your underwear a quick refresh between washes, consider a fabric spray. Febreeze has a nice range that smells like fresh linen.”

2. Use the correct detergent

When you do need to wash your delicate garments, make sure you are using the right type of detergent. A lot of regular detergents are designed to tackle tough stains and therefore may be too harsh on your more delicate items. 

“A bio detergent has enzymes in it that are designed to break down grease and tougher stains”, Laura says. “So, a non-bio detergent is ideal for a gentler clean. You can also buy detergents that are specifically designed for delicates but most non-bios will be gentle enough.”

Mumsnet users recommend

“I use the Ecover delicates one, it’s great!” - recommended by Mumsnet user goldpendant

Ecoegg for delicates” - tried and tested by Mumsnet user 70isaLimitNotaTarget

Persil bio powder, I'd not go back to anything different now” - as loved by Mumsnet user SloanePeterson

3. Don’t bypass the handwash

Handwashing lingerie

Handwashing can feel like a laborious chore but it can be essential for certain items. High heat from washing machine settings or the speed of the spin can damage the fabrics. 

“If you chose to hand wash, use warm water and a gentle non-bio detergent”, Laura shares. “You can work the detergent into an item by hand to target specific stains. Then fill a bathtub or a sink with warm water and detergent and essentially give your clothing a bath. 

“It does take longer for these items to dry but it’s so vital you don’t wring them out, as they can damage your lingerie or cause it to lose its shape.”

If you find hand washing your delicates, particularly your bras, a faff - don’t worry, as Mumsnet user Shelvesoutofbooks has great advice: “The easiest way to hand wash them is to wear it in the shower and wash it as you shower. Have been told this by several fitters and it works.” 

4. Use the towel drying method 

If you’ve hand washed your lingerie or shapewear, it’s so important to let them air dry. A tumble dryer can damage the items due to the intense heat and also the fast spin speed within the drum. If you need your items to dry quicker, use the towel method to cut the drying time in half.

Laura explains: “You can lay them out on a flat towel and roll the towel into a burrito shape. The towel will absorb any excess liquid and it should make the air drying process much speedier. 

“This method has gone viral on TikTok so search for the burrito method and you’ll find loads of great examples showing you how it's done.”

5. Go low and slow

If you need to use the washing machine for your delicates, try a low heat on a slow spin cycle. As Laura says: “Some washing machines actually have a hand wash setting but if yours doesn’t, just keep the temperature as low as you can get it and make sure your spin cycle is slow so your delicate items aren’t being thrown around too vigorously in the drum.”

6. Buy protective wash bags

If you want to wash your bras with other items on a low and slow wash, buy protective bags to prevent the bra hooks from getting caught and causing possible tears.

“I have a wash bag for delicates. It is padded and I put it in the machine, it works a treat.”


Laura adds: “The bags are also a great way of keeping all your delicate items together or ensuring pairs of socks don’t get lost in the drum.”

7. Learn how to pre-treat stains

Treat stains on lingerie

Whilst bio detergents are effective at tackling tough stains, they’re too harsh for our delicates. So, if you need to remove a stain, it’s important you pre-treat it. 

“Rinse the items in cold water to remove as much of the stain as you can,” Laura says. “You can use a non-bio detergent and simply rub it into the stain to break it down. There’s also oxy powders specifically designed for delicates now.”

8. Store with care

Let’s face it, many of us suffer from messy underwear drawers - with pants, socks and tights all tangled up together. To avoid the clutter and chaos, invest in some drawer dividers that will restore some calm.

As Laura explains: “You can get drawer dividers for a great price on Amazon and not only do they make everything feel more organised, but they stop your underwear from getting tangled and bra hooks tearing other items or laddering tights.”

How we chose our recommendations

Recommendations from real Mumsnet users

When creating this guide on how to wash lingerie and care for delicates like shapewear, we first consulted our Talk boards to learn how real Mumsnet users wash their delicates. With over 10 million users - that’s a load of advice! We know that laundry is a popular topic, so we wanted to know the advice and top tips parents really follow. 

Expert opinions

Next up, we consulted laundry and washing expert Laura Mountford, who has over 500,000 followers on her Instagram @lauracleanaholic. As an industry expert, we trust that her advice is top-notch. 

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.

About the expert

Laura Mountford aka @lauracleanaholic shares her cleaning and laundry motivation, tips and tricks, favourite products and where to buy them. Laura knows from first-hand experience that taking care of a home can be overwhelming but using products she loves and knows work well (and smell divine) motivates her to clean. Most of all, she finds that cleaning helps her to relax - it is an essential part of her self-care routine. Laura's belief is that everyone can care for themselves and care for their home at the same time.

About the author

Kat Romero is a writer and journalist hailing from London. Here at Mumsnet she writes our Swears By content which is designed to offer mums a round-up of the best products on the market. Whilst she has always been a lover of writing, Kat feels becoming a mother has made her more passionate delivering quality content for parents that is helpful and relatable. So, you know you can trust her product roundups.

When she's not at her desk, Kat loves to soak up the sights of London with her fiancé and son - exploring museum exhibitions and the many open spaces and parks. Or you'll find her consuming far too much caffeine from some of her beloved coffee shops in her local area of South East London.