How do I wash underwear in a washing machine?

How do I wash underwear in a washing machine
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As a stated truth, underwear is best washed by hand.

However, because of time constraints, ease and comfort, many washing machine owners choose to wash their undies in a washer.

If you choose the latter, how can you wash your underwear in a washing machine for best result and without damaging them?

Here is a step by step  guide:

  1. Pre Soak soiled undies in none bleach detergent water for 15-30 minutes. Lightly soiled garments do not need to be soaked.
  1. If they are white fabrics, you can add bleach to the solution.
  1. Place undergarments in a laundry net.
  1. Set the washing machine to delicate or a similar setting.
  1. For older washers without the delicate setting, set the timer to 15 minutes maximum.
  1. Use cold wash only.

Step 1 –

Presoak soiled undies

How do I wash underwear in a washing machine

Underwear worn on the waist are exposed to different bacteria and other microbes in the pubic region and poo and wee remnants. As such they need to be disinfected.

However, normal wash does not kill most bacteria.

Hot wash does not kill all microbes, and they can damage delicate undies fabrics.

Vinegar is not the ultimate disinfectant.

Underwear wash time is reduced to save delicate fabrics.

The solution then to kill most germs and at least remove them from undies, is to presoak them.

Simply put your undies, arranging them in similar color range, into a washing sink, with detergent water.

A home bucket can also serve.

Allow it to soak for about 15 minutes. Undies with period stains and other soilings can be soaked a little longer. Do not exceed 30 minutes even for heavily soiled garments.

After soaking, most of the job is already done. Now you can choose to either lightly wash the items with hands focusing on areas with stains or coloration, 

But if you prefer machine wash, simply move the soaked items to a washing machine.

Step 2 – 

Add bleach, baking soda or vinegar to the solution

The purpose of soaking is to remove dirt, stains and bacteria.

So when washing white undies, you can add bleach to the solution.

Please note that bleach is not always effective at removing protein stains.

The real use in the mix is for disinfection. So, if your undies start having a yellowish coloration, you should decide either to continue using bleach for disinfectant or to switch to similar ingredients.

Other alternatives are vinegar and baking soda.

However bear in mind that compared to other disinfectants, vinegar is not very effective at disinfecting.

Step 3 –

Place undergarments in a laundry net

Bras, lingeries are small in size compared to other clothes. So if you are among those who wash underwear with other clothes, it is important that you place these under garments in a laundry net.

It saves you the cost and stress of search for your clothes in the mix.

But even if you’re washing the underwear alone, it is equally important that you place underwears with metal hooks and buckles in a net. 

This prevent the them from holding on the the fabrics of other delicate items in the mix resulting in a rip or pulling the threads.

Step 4 –

Set washing machine to delicate or a similar setting

This is where the reality of washing undies in a washing machines sets in… what washer option should you use?

As a fact, not all undies are made with delicate fabrics. In fact, a good number of bras are made of cotton, with some padding attached.

And even more lingeries are being made from cotton.

The issue is, these strong fabrics are less advertised and paraded on fashion walkways, so the delicate and more expensive are seen as the norm, at least for those with the dough.

Washing these delicate fabrics will call for some restraint when using a washer. 

You simply cannot use your normal washer setting to wash them.

In many newer machines, you should see some fabrics types written on the control nob. If yours has this, simply switch to fabrics like silk and use this setting.

If yours only has “delicate” or “gentle” as the setting on the washing machine control, use it instead.

In reality, undergarments seldom get dirty as would regular shirts and trousers. So using delicate wash even for tougher quality undies will still clean your underwear.

And if you presoak the clothes before washing, then even the delicate wash setting will be enough to clean your clothes to satisfaction.

Step 5 –

Set timer to 15 minutes maximum

This is more of common sense than actual technical suggestion.

Most delicate wash uses 15 minutes duration. So if your washing is one of the post World War 2 era washing machines and does not have a delicate setting or something similar, simply set the washer to last no more than 15 minutes.

Whatever damage will be done to the undies will only last 15 minutes, these should reduce the effect the standard wash setting will have on your lingerie and other undergarments in the washer.

Step 6 –

Use cold wash only

Many will argue that using cold water to wash underwear will not disinfect it. That is true… half of the truth, I mean.

The water temperature that can disinfect underwear, will have first “kill” your fabrics before getting to the stubborn microbes.

Well, modern washer rely on several factors to “disinfect” clothes.

It combines the power of detergent and soap to remove microbes from clothes with the washing and agitation process which help to wash-off or flush this dettached bacteria from the clothes.

But the up side of this is, cold water protects fabrics. So you get the cleaning effect of hot water, while retaining your under garment quality.

Drying tips for underwear

Although washing machines are the usual suspects, most of the damages done to underwear, takes place in the dryer.

Hence after taking due precaution when using the washer, it is important that even more attention be given to the drying your washed undies in the dryer.

Here are some tips to help:

  1. If you have space and privacy, undies are better dried with natural air and atmosphere temperature.
  1. If using a washing machine, load your dryers to allow enough space. Never pack the dryer tight.
  1. Dry similar fabrics strength together. That is, under garments should be dried with similar delicate fabrics.
  1. Use air fluff settings when available.
  1. Alternatively, use the no heat or normal tumble dryer setting when available
  1. If your washing has adjustable temperature settings, set your temperature to low or extra low

What temperature to wash underwear?

20 – 30 degrees celsius is the ideal temperature to wash underwears. Though at 30 degrees, the temperature is in the warm temperature region, it will still clean your lingerie with little damage to fabrics.

Coupled with a short wash period, you can have your underwear laundered for months without real damage to the fabrics.

Some manufacturers suggest 40 degrees celsius as ideal to wash underwear, but know that is at the border of hot water wash, so caution should be taken when washing undergarments at this temperature for a long period of time.


If you have the time and privace to wash your underwears, doing it manually is your best option.

After all said and done, the human is the best “washing machine” in the market at present.

But if you must use your washer for convenience and time, ensure you maintain the optimum washer setting.

Anything more will wear-out your undies faster. And even affect its elasticity.

Washing machines is the best thing that has happened to laundry in this 21st fast paced world. 

With a little adjustment, we can maximize the pros of this versatile appliance and reduce the tale it can tell on cloth fabrics over time.

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