Purple lace bra next to a jar of clothespins

How to clean bras: tips for washing bras

Bras are a necessary part of your wardrobe, but they can be difficult garments to wash and dry properly. If you don't know how to wash bras the right way, you can end up with a bra that's stretched out and faded. Use this guide to learn how to hand wash and machine wash your bras with a Whirlpool® washer to help keep them looking and feeling fresh.

How often should you wash your bra?

Not all garments have the same cleaning schedule. How often you wash a bra can vary depending on how much you sweat. If the weather is cooler and you aren’t sweating much, you can wash a bra after 3–5 uses. For bras that are worn in hot climates or during strenuous activity, you may want to wash them more frequently.

How do you wash bras without ruining them?

Because bras are delicate items, you need to take special care while washing them. The best way to wash a bra is to wash it by hand using gentle detergent. If you don’t have the time to hand wash your bras, you can machine wash them in a mesh lingerie bag on the delicate cycle with cold water.

Whirlpool brand offers select top load washing machines with the innovative 2 in 1 Removable Agitator that has the ability to switch from an agitator to an impeller washer, which provides a thorough yet gentle clean when you need it.

Though it is the standard recommendation to hand wash all bras, padded bras especially require manual effort as the padding in these bras can become damaged and misshapen when washed using a washing machine.

Select Whirlpool® washers offer a Pretreat Station with a built-in faucet so you can hand wash delicate garments without having to leave the laundry room.

How to hand wash bras

The best way to maintain your bra’s fragile structure is to wash it by hand. Read on below to discover the steps to hand washing your bras.

  • Mild laundry detergent

  • Cold water

  • Towel

  • Large sink or tub

Person soaking a bra in sudsy water

Step 1: Soak bras in soapy water

Fill your sink or tub with about a gallon of cool water and pour in one tablespoon of mild laundry detergent. Completely submerge your bras in the water and allow them to soak for at least 15 minutes.

Person rinsing a bra under a faucet

Step 2: Rinse bras in cool water

Once your bras have soaked for about 15 minutes, remove them from the soapy water and rinse them with cool water to remove any leftover detergent.

Person squeezing out excess water from a bra with a towel

Step 3: Remove excess water and hang to dry

After you’ve finished rinsing your bras, wrap the bras in an absorbent towel and gently squeeze out excess water. Be careful not to be too rough with the garments as this can stretch the fabric. If the bra cups have folded or bent during the washing process, gently reshape them while the fabric is still wet. Hang them to air dry away from direct sunlight to avoid fading the color.

How to wash bras in the washing machine

Though it is recommended to wash bras by hand, you can still wash bras in the washing machine with the right technique. Read on below to learn how to machine wash your bras with a Whirlpool® washing machine with customizable settings that help you care for delicate items.

  • Mild laundry detergent

  • Mesh lingerie bag

Person closing the hooks of a bra

Step 1: Prepare your bras for the wash

Before tossing your bras in the washing machine, make sure to hook each bra and gently place them inside a mesh lingerie bag. This helps to protect the bras from becoming snagged or misshapen during the wash cycle.

Mesh lingerie bag being placed inside a Whirlpool® washing machine

Step 2: Place bras in the washer and select a wash cycle

If you’re using the Whirlpool® Top Load Washer with 2 in 1 Removable Agitator, take the agitator out of your machine. Place the mesh bag of bras inside your washing machine along with any other delicate laundry items to help balance the load. Add mild detergent to your washer’s detergent dispenser using only the amount specified on the product’s packaging. Select the “delicate” wash setting on your machine and press start.

Two bras hanging on a drying rack

Step 3: Hang bras to dry

After the wash cycle is complete, remove your bras from the mesh lingerie bag and gently squeeze out any excess water. If the cups have folded or creased during the wash cycle, reshape them by hand before hanging them up to dry.

How do you protect bras in a washing machine?

The best way to protect your bras during a wash cycle is to place them inside a mesh laundry bag and wash using mild detergent and cool water on the delicate cycle setting, making sure to air dry afterwards. These precautions can help protect the bra’s shape and structure, but it does not guarantee it.

Should you wash bras in hot or cold water?

It is recommended that you only wash bras using cold water, as hot water can affect the shape of your bra cups and stretch the elastic in the band.  

Select Whirlpool® washers offer the Cold Wash Cycle that adjusts wash actions, temperatures and time to provide optimal fabric care.

Should bras be washed with fabric softener?

No, you should not use fabric softener when washing your bras. Fabric softener can damage the elastic in the band of your bra, which can lead to it becoming overstretched. Only use mild detergent when washing your bras.

How do you deep clean a bra?

If you have a heavily soiled bra that needs a little extra cleaning, there are a few things you can do to provide a deeper clean. You can pretreat sweat stains with mild detergent before washing and target sweat odors by soaking bras in a mixture of water and ¼ cup of vinegar before washing in the washing machine.

You can streamline the deep cleaning process with a Whirlpool® washer with Pretreat Station that features a built-in faucet for easy access.

How do you dry bras after washing?

The best way to dry your bras after washing is to hang them up to air dry away from direct sunlight. Tumble drying can be too harsh on the underwire and elastic of your bra, so machine drying is not recommended. 

Once your bras have dried, make sure to store them flat in a drawer with their hooks clasped to avoid any snags.

Explore Whirlpool® washers

Whirlpool® washing machines can help you remove everyday stains and keep clean clothes fresh with select models offering innovative features like Steam Clean and Tumble Fresh Options. Clean regular-sized loads in as little as 25 minutes1 with large capacity front load washers or enjoy versatility with select top load washers featuring the 2 in 1 Removable Agitator that allows you to care for your clothes the way you want.

Get more laundry tips from Whirlpool brand

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1 Based on a 10-lb load, Regular/Quick Cycle