Most modern lingerie on the market today is available in a wide range of fabrics that are much easier to care for than was once made. However, we still need to give a little extra attention to all of our undergarments, if we want them to remain in good condition for a reasonable amount of time. Many manufacturers’ garment tags do state the garment can be washed and dried in a machine but many garment tags still insist lingerie should be handwasher only. And although it is certainly more convenient to throw a load of clothes in the washing machine before leaving for work in the morning, a washing machine can do serious damage to a delicate lace trimmed camisole while it is agitating a load of clothes for a thorough cleaning cycle.
Unfortunately, most of us are very busy people with full schedules that do not allow for the luxury of handwashing. The good news is we have several convenient alternatives to choose from. Modern washing machines normally have a “delicate” cycle alternative that will not be quite as harsh on the more delicate lace trims of your lingerie. If you combine your delicate cycle with cold water and a detergent meant for delicates such as Woolite or Dreft you should have no difficulties with repeated washings of any lingerie.
Another alternative is to use your washing machine as a soak basin by filling it up with cold water and a delicates-friendly detergent, letting it soak for 30 minutes or so, then simply releasing the water out manually by skipping the other cycles of your machine. Then refill the machine with clear water and let soak another 30 minutes, then repeat the letting out process. This should allow a wash/rinse that will suffice for most normal use but certainly will not be very effective in serious stains or odors.
The best alternative to safely clean your lingerie without handwashing is to use a lingerie bag for your delicates. These bags are inexpensive, readily available at most department stores, and are made of a durable mesh that will take the abuse of the washing machine’s twisting while protecting your lingerie safely inside. We would recommend using 1 bag per garment to avoid tangles. Simply place your item inside the lingerie bag, zip it up and toss it into a washing machine filled with cold water and a mild detergent.
Worried about the dryer? An especially good idea is to hang dry instead of using the dryer as dryers can be unpredictable in their heat distribution and you must remember that scorching a fine silk will permanently destroy the garment beyond repair. However, if you prefer using your dryer, leave the item in its lingerie bag during the drying process and use the lowest possible heat setting you have available. If your lingerie is made of a sheer fabric such as chiffon than no heat is really required to dry the garment. Simply use the air fluff feature to “blow-dry” your lingerie dry as it tumbles safely in the lingerie bag.
Eventually you will come across a tag that states the evil “dry cleaning only” recommendation and we certainly do not wish to dismiss this recommendation as somebody must know what they are talking about for the manufacturer to put that on the tag. However, it must also be recognized that lingerie is a very personal item that you may not always want to take to the local dry cleaning store. Fortunately for us, today we have products such as Dryell that imitate the dry cleaning products right in our own home. These products are effective, inexpensive and easy to use.
While we must recommend you always check the manufacturer's label before washing, drying or dry cleaning any item for their fabric specific recommendations we hope these few suggestions will help extend the life of your lingerie and help you to care for it stress free.