How I Keep My Lingerie in Perfect Condition

by Estelle Puleston

I like to think I take pretty good care of my lingerie. I was shocked when I read this article (which is just one of many such examples) and saw an expert say a well cared-for bra should last just 8 months.

I like to buy decidedly delicate, lacy things, and lots of my lingerie wardrobe staples I’ve owned for years. Today I happen to be wearing the first lingerie set I ever reviewed on this blog, which is something that I wear regularly, and it still looks pristine. No threads unraveling, no Swarovski crystals missing, no pulls in the fabric and not a hint of twisting in the elastic straps.

So how do I do it? Today I’m sharing with you exactly how I care for my lingerie, so that you can hopefully pick up a tip or two to help your own lingerie purchases last longer and become better value for money…


  • If my lingerie has crystals or intricate beading, I’ll make sure I wear something loose-fitting over the top so that it doesn’t rub against them all day
  • I always wear deodorant – this is more for personal hygiene than anything else, but sweat stains on the sides of your bra is never a good look. Sweat can also be acidic which will break down the fibres of your lingerie over time
  • Speaking of which, I put deodorant on before lingerie and leave it a minute to dry, as deodorants can stain things too!
  • When putting on stockings or delicate tights, I’ll use a pair of hosiery gloves to avoid snagging them on a ring or a broken nail
  • I’ll usually go for opaque hosiery with boots rather than sheer because it won’t wear down so quickly where the boots rub the back of the leg
  • Where it won’t be visible (so, again, when I’m wearing boots) I’ll pop socks on top of my hosiery to minimise wear to the soles and heels



  • I always, always, always hand-wash lingerie! It takes me no more than 20 minutes a week, and it’s inexpensive – although lots of lingerie-specific washes exist and I’d like to try some, for the past few years I’ve been using Tesco’s Silk and Delicates Handwash (750ml for £1.50) and it does the job perfectly well
  • I wash lingerie in cool or lukewarm water because excessive heat can damage the elastic fibres in bra straps or stretch fabric
  • Once everything has had a good soak, I squeeze, not wring, the water out which is gentler and doesn’t stretch fabrics or bend bra wires
  • After washing, I leave everything to hang dry on a clothes horse (not a heated towel rail – I learnt from experience that the heat can warp bra wires and damage elastic!)
  • I wash lingerie in colour groups, even though that means washing a few brightly coloured sets on their own, to avoid stains or whites/creams gradually turning grey
  • I have a separate laundry bag just for lingerie, to avoid damage and so that my favourite bras don’t accidently go in the machine or dryer bundled up inside a dress
  • Before I put my lingerie in the laundry bag, I fasten any hooks to avoid them snagging on anything delicate



  • I keep the boxes that lingerie arrives in if they’re quite sturdy ones
  • For most of my lingerie, I use clear plastic storage boxes lined with acid-free tissue paper which keeps everything nice and protected and lets me easily find what I’m looking for too
  • When space is an issue or for items like corsets that I don’t have boxes big enough for, I use fabric lingerie bags which prevent snagging but don’t take up any more drawer space than the lingerie would on its own
  • I don’t throw hosiery packaging out – not only does it prevent such delicate items getting damaged, it takes up almost no space and keeps designs easily identifiable so you don’t have to sort through 10 similar-looking black stockings in the morning to pick out a pair!

Sounds like a lot of rules huh? I think that a lot of this is just common sense, but if you only take away two bits of advice from this article let it be these: hang-dry lingerie at room temperature and use gloves if you wear sheer hosiery. In my experience at least, lingerie has no greater enemies than heat and broken nails!

How do you take care of your lingerie?

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Anita December 16, 2012 - 8:05 pm

Great advice! Growing up in the 70’s, I watched my mother care for her lingerie just as you’ve described. I use lukewarm water and dishwashing soap, soak overnight, and rinse thoroughly. The switch to dish soap came after I heard/read somewhere that the handwash detergent my mother had always used was actually pretty harsh. Why spend money on a special product if you don’t have to?

I’m so happy I found your website. At last, a REAL guide to bra styles! You do great work. Thank you!

Estelle December 16, 2012 - 9:17 pm

Thanks Anita, glad you like my posts 🙂

I have never heard of washing lingerie wish dish-soap before! As mentioned in the post I did find a while back that supermarket delicates wash started to irritate my skin, so I guess some of them can be harsher than they may seem with ‘delicates’ in the name. I now use Eucalan or Soak, or occasionally shampoo when I’m on holiday 😉

CAROLINE March 15, 2016 - 2:34 pm

Really good advice here – Thank you!

Estelle March 15, 2016 - 7:56 pm

You’re welcome Caroline 🙂