Washing underwear can be a complex task to master. Underwear comes in a range of materials, including cotton and polyester.
Bras and lingerie may have additional silk or lace parts which are highly delicate. All of these materials can handle different temperatures and spin speeds.
In fact, some underwear is so delicate that it has to be washed by hand!
Then comes an additional issue: underwear is covered in germs and bacteria. As the fabric touches our private parts, it is often dirtier than other garments and needs to be washed at high temperatures to destroy the bacteria. However, this has to be done carefully and without destroying the fabric.
So, what is the best temperature to wash underwear at? It’s not a straightforward answer, but this article explains all there is to know!
What Temperature Should You Wash Underwear At?
According to the NHS, underwear is more likely to contain germs than other items of clothing. They may contain traces of poo or bacteria from genital infections.
These germs can be spread to other items of clothing being washed or directly onto the hands of whoever is doing the laundry, leading to the spread of infections and illness.
Therefore, the NHS recommends washing high-risk items such as underwear at high temperatures of 60°C. This is widely regarded as the temperature that kills bacteria and germs in the washing machine, thus limiting the risk of infection.
For this reason, you should stick with 60°C washes for all your underwear, especially if you’re ill or your underwear is heavily soiled.
Can You Wash Underwear at 40 Degrees?
Washing at 60°C takes a lot of energy, and you risk damaging delicate materials or letting colours run.
Underwear, especially women’s bras and knickers, is often made of lace or silk, which high temperatures can damage. Therefore, you might wonder if you put your underwear on a 40°C wash rather than 60°C.
The answer to this question is yes; you can wash your underwear at 40°C. However, it won’t be the most thorough antibacterial clean. If your underwear is heavily soiled and can handle 60°C, we recommend you follow the NHS guidelines. However, lightly soiled underwear can be washed at lower temperatures.
Our best advice is to check the label and put your underwear on the highest temperature wash cycle that the material can handle. This method strikes the perfect balance between busting as many germs and bacteria as possible while not ruining your more delicate pieces of underwear.
How Should You Wash Underwear in the Washing Machine?
Washing your underwear so that it is free from germs and bacteria while not getting damaged in the process seems like a tricky balancing act to master!
Here are our top tips to help you wash your bras, knickers, and boxers the right way:
1. Always check the label
Underwear is made from all kinds of materials, including synthetics, cotton, and silk. Each of these materials will have its own washing guidelines and care, and some will melt at 60°C.
Check the tag of your underwear to see what temperature it can be washed at. Note that some delicate items are not suitable for machine washing at all and must be washed by hand in the sink.
2. Use mesh laundry bags
Consider putting your underwear into a mesh laundry bag for protection while in the washing machine.
These bags prevent your underwear from bashing directly into the side of the washing machine and limits damage during the cycle.
Meanwhile, the warm temperature and laundry detergent can still get inside the bag for effective cleaning.
3. Use the correct washing cycle
When choosing a washing machine setting, the temperature is only half the equation; you must also consider the spin speed.
Cotton underwear can go on a standard cotton cycle with a high spin speed, helping remove as much water as possible from the fabric.
However, select the delicate cycle for lacey or silky lingerie. This has the slowest spin setting to prevent damage.
Hannah is a freelance content writer with a passion for cleaning. She worked her way around Australia by cleaning hostels in exchange for free accommodation and used her cleaning skills to bag her a job as a chalet host for a luxury ski company in France.