How To Wash Underwear Properly

Renata Black, EBY Co-Founder & CEO

As it turns out, washing underwear isn’t as cut and dry as you think it is. A customary toss in the wash might actually not be as effective as it should be, and we all know that an unclean pair of panties can spell terrible news for a woman’s health. Not to mention, incorrect washing techniques can not only lead to health complications but can also reduce the lifespan of your underwear by damaging the fabric and stretching out the elastic. Needless to say, now’s the time to start taking extra precautions when washing your underwear, no matter how silly it may feel.

Machine Wash vs. Hand Wash: What Is Better For Your Underwear?

Sometimes it feels like the machine washing vs. hand wash debate is older than time itself. Some people swear by hand washing, while others rely on a washing machine to get the job done. Like any debate, there are pros and cons to both sides, i.e., amount of time/effort, effectiveness, extension of underwear lifespan, etc. For this reason, it can be difficult to know which method is worthwhile and which is a waste. The TL;DR of it all is: in most cases, both methods are fine as long as you are properly adhering to the wash instructions on the tag. There are specific fabrics that require hand washing, though, in order to extend the life of the underwear and prevent the spread of bacteria to other clothes in the wash.

Like all things, there are nuances and specifics that are important to address before making a decision. Let’s get into them now:

How To Hand Wash Your Underwear

If you’re at all curious about the handwashing method, there’s no harm in giving it a try and seeing if the method works for you! Here’s how you should be hand washing your delicates:

  • Fill up a basin with cold or warm water
  • Mix in detergent
  • Take a soft brush and gently rub the detergent solution into the fabric
  • Let it sit for 5-15 minutes
  • When ready, pour out the soapy solution and add new, soap-free cold water into the basin
  • Let intimates sit until the water runs clear
  • Remove panties from the basin, gently squeeze until damp
  • Lay out laundry in between a light-colored towel and press dry
  • Hang the garments over a clothing rack and let them air dry

The biggest takeaways here should be: avoid using hot water, and handwashing can be a rather involved process for those of us who do not have the space, time, or resources to do so. Still, there are a few types of delicate fabrics that require a hand wash over a machine wash, so if you’re strapped for time or space, you should definitely prioritize the specific underwear styles listed below for a good, old-fashioned hand wash.

Always Hand Wash Your Delicates

Any underwear expert would recommend you hand wash all types of underwear, no matter the fabric or style. Hand washing will prolong the life of your undies by preserving the quality of the fabric, the construction of the gusset, and the elasticity of the waistband. Plus, repeated tumble washes puts your panties at risk of snagging against the washing machine, fabric dyes bleeding into one another, and doesn’t always protect against bacteria spread. Yes, it’s another chore that will eat into your personal time, but think of it this way: you’re saving money by not having to buy new underwear all the time, while also keeping your privates happy and healthy. And the peace of mind is priceless!

Unfortunately, though, not all of us have the time (or patience) to hand wash every pair of underwear we own. If that sounds like you, we have a word of advice: if you’re unable to hand wash every pair of panties you own, you should at least take the time to hand wash your lace and silk lingerie. These are the most delicate underwear there are, and excessive washing in harsh washing machines is sure to damage the fabric and quality of the garment. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

How To Wash Underwear - EBY

How To Machine Wash Your Underwear

If your washing machine also doubles as your religion, you should at least take this opportunity to make sure that you’re washing your undergarments correctly. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Always check the care label before washing for optimal underwear washing instructions
  • Secure your intimates in a laundry bag, then place them into the washing machine
  • Pour your choice detergent into the washing machine
  • Add a laundry sanitizer to the mix to ensure any and all bacteria on your undergarments are eradicated
  • Wash on a delicate cycle

Should You Wash Your Underwear Along With Your Laundry?

This is a great question that everyone seems to have a different answer for. The bottom line is: it’s up to you. Before making your decision, evaluate if you have enough product to warrant a full wash or a shorter cycle time. Something else to keep in mind, though, is that if you’re washing your underwear in a lingerie bag, then mixing multiple products in one wash shouldn’t even matter because they will never interact.

Why A Lingerie Bag Is Essential For A Machine Wash

What is a lingerie bag, and why is it a machine wash essential? A Lingerie bag, or laundry bag, is a simple mesh bag to store your delicates in when using a tumble washer. Lingerie bags are useful for maintaining the shape and elasticity of your panties, and saving them from any snagging or tearing, as well. Using a lingerie bag is ideal for a devoted machine wash-er, because you get all the benefits of a hand wash, with none of the effort!

Drying Your Underwear

Even if you don’t hand wash all your underwear, you should avoid drying your panties in a dryer at all costs. Not only does it save electricity and money, but hang drying will also preserve the shape, color, stretchiness, and softness of your precious panties better than a tumble dry. As mentioned above, you can go one step further and pre-dry your panties by placing them in a towel and pressing down to absorb any excess water and prevent any dripping on the floor.

What To Avoid While Washing Your Underwear

If you are hand washing your panties, it’s best to wash them with medium to cold water to prevent any possible burns. If you choose to wash your undies in the laundry, however, always use hot water whenever possible. It’s been proven that some bacteria can survive a wash cycle, but washing your underwear in water with a temperature of 80 degrees (or higher) is a sure-fire way to ensure those bacteria bastards are killed at the source and don’t stick around where they’re not wanted.

Drying In Direct Sunlight

If you grew up in a house with a clothing line in the backyard, we’re about to drop a knowledge bomb that’ll blow your mind: Underwear is not meant to be dried in direct sunlight at all. Drying your intimates in the sun accelerates the “age” of your panties and leaves them feeling leathery to the touch. It can also weaken fabric colors, as well.

Bleach and Fabric Softeners

If you are a fabric softener loyalist, then you might want to consider washing your intimates separately from your other clothes. Though fabric softener works wonders on a tee shirt or sweatshirt, it is not to be used on any polyester or nylon-based microfiber fabrics because the softening agents and added fragrance wreak havoc on the knit and can leave an unpleasant residue behind. Moisture-wicking underwear definitely falls into this category as do spandex, but instead of sorting through your individual pairs of underwear for a wash cycle, it’s best to avoid using fabric softener on your underwear at all costs.

Hot Dryers

As mentioned above, hand drying your underwear is the way to go. A hot dry cycle will stretch out the elastic, resulting in saggy fabric and a loose waistband. Plus, in that level of heat, the friction of the fabrics rubbing against one another will result in a sandpaper-y feel and faded color brightness. Obviously, not everyone can wait 12 hours for their underwear to air dry, so if you’re in a pinch, make sure to adjust your dryer to a cool or warm fluffing cycle instead.


If you haven’t realized it already, we highly recommend you make the switch to hand washing and air drying your underwear to prolong the lifespan of your undergarments. Using a washing machine to wash delicates accelerates the deterioration of the panties, and doesn’t even fully eliminate bacteria in the process. EBY’s panties are already supposed to last for 60-90 wash cycles, so imagine how long they’ll last if you convert to hand washing! When you join the EBY subscription program, though, you don’t even need to worry about prolonging the life of your undies, because you can get either 3 new pairs 4 times a year, or 5 new pairs 2 times a year! Plus, our panties are made with incredibly durable materials like nylon and spandex, so if you do find yourself slacking off and tossing them in the washing machine every once in a while, they can handle it! Interested in signing up? Click here for more information.