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A Cleaner World Blog

How to Properly Wash Underwear

When I was a kid, my friends and I would make jokes about wearing one pair of underwear for four days – day one normal, day two backward, day three inside-out normal, day four inside-out backward.  As an adult, the thought of doing something like that sends me into a tailspin.  But truthfully, it is possible that I might have done something like that as a kid when we were on a camping trip.  Now, when traveling or camping, I overpack in the underwear department.  

Properly washing underwear isn’t a topic we tend to discuss freely, but it is an important one given that bacteria can survive in the washing machine and can multiply if garments are not properly laundered. Undies can typically be broken into two categories – delicate and non-delicate.  For the sake of ease, let’s start with the non-delicate variety first.

Non-delicate Undies

Fabric can be divided into the categories: natural and synthetic.  Natural fibers are most used for underwear, with the most common one being cotton.  Synthetic fibers like spandex, nylon, and polyester are also frequently used because they cost less than cotton.

  • These fabrics are machine washable, but as with every garment, we recommend checking for and following the directions on the care label.
  • If needed, apply a stain remover or liquid laundry detergent on the stained area.  
  • If the label says it can withstand the temperature, wash at 104 degrees F to 140 degrees F.
  • Use a mild detergent that is gentle on both fabric and skin.
  • Wash with similar garments.  I tend to wash bath towels and undergarments together because I wash them in hot water and can create a full load.  Don’t put undergarments in with heavy jeans or things with lots of zippers because they can damage the fabric of your underwear.
  • If you have small children that have accidents or are being potty trained, wash their soiled underwear separate from other clothing.  We realize that washing partial loads can be a waste of water and electricity, so choose a shorter cycle or smaller load size if your machine has that option.
  • Remove and place in the dryer (or hang to airdry) as soon as the wash cycle is complete.  This reduces the chances of germs multiplying.

Delicate Undies

Machine washing these could be a bit risky given the delicate fabrics and lacey trim.

  • Check the care label to see if they can be machine washed and be sure to follow those directions.
  • If they can be machine washed, place them in a mesh laundry bag to protect against snags and other damage.
  • Carefully measure out the appropriate amount of laundry detergent; adding too much detergent can leave a soapy residue.
  • Remove from the washer as soon as the cycle is complete and either hang to dry or place in the dryer if the care label indicates it is safe.
  • If your delicate undies need to be hand washed, clean your sink then fill it with warm water and some gentle laundry detergent.  Allow the undies to soak for roughly 30 minutes before washing.  To wash, gently swish the item through the water until it is clean; avoid twisting and wringing because these actions could damage the fabric.  Thoroughly rinse, making sure all the detergent is completely removed.  If the item is still soiled, repeat the process.  Once all the soap has been completely removed, gently squeeze out the water then hang to dry.

Of course, instead of remembering all these rules, you could just throw your undies in your A Cleaner World Wash and Fold Laundry bag.  Our Wash and Fold Laundry Service is basically clean laundry without all the work.

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