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How to Wash Underwear + Underwear Care Tips

We’ve walked you through how to wash bras, so next on your laundry list is to learn how to wash underwear. Even if you don't sleep in your underwear, learning the best way to wash your underwear, panties and other types of garments is the best way to extend its life and keep it clean and ready for when you need it most. In our guide, we will show you the different methods for washing your underwear, offer underwear washing tips and tricks and answer frequently asked questions to help make laundry day a breeze.

If you’re looking for an underwear brand that offers no-fuss washing, look no further! All Tommy John underwear is machine washable and made for optimal comfort and convenience. 

How to Hand Wash Underwear 

Workflow instructing how to wash underwear by hand with stock photos of a sink, hands washing underwear and underwear hang drying

Some types of underwear and panties like lace and mesh are delicate and shouldn’t be put into the washer machine. For washing these types of garments, opt for handwashing underwear in the sink. Explore the following items you’ll need to effectively learn how to hand wash underwear.

What You’ll Need to Hand Wash Underwear

  1. Sink or Tub 
  2. Cold Water
  3. Mild Laundry Detergent 
  4. 2 Clean Towels 
  5. Hangers or Drying Rack 

    Step 1: Clean and Fill Your Sink with Cold Water + Detergent

    The first step in hand washing your underwear is finding a clean sink that is large enough for your garments to fit in. You can also use a clean container or bathtub. Begin by filling your sink with water and add less than a penny size amount of detergent (just enough to work up a light lather) as too much can leave residue on your panties

    Tip: Opt for a specially-formulated delicate or silk wash. Baby shampoo also works well for gentle cleaning. 

    Step 2: Add Underwear to Sink + Gently Rub 

    Once you’ve added your underwear to the sink, make sure your panties are submerged and swish them around to loosen any dirt or stains. Next, you will want to give them a gentle scrub (you can either do this with your fingers or a clean toothbrush) focusing on areas like the sanitization strip (gert?) and anywhere else body oils and bacteria can be present. Next, let the underwear soak for 5 to 15 minutes depending on how many garments you are washing at one time. 

    Step 3: Rinse Your Underwear

    Once you’re ready to remove your underwear from the sink, take them out one by one and rinse them with cold water. Continue rinsing until all the soap is off your underwear and the water runs clear. 

    Tip: Never ring out your underwear or else it will stretch the fabric. Lightly squeeze the water out if needed.

    Step 4: Dry Your Underwear

    To dry your underwear, place them down on a clean towel and use your second towel to remove any water by pressing down on it. Make sure all the water is squeezed out. Then take the underwear and hang it up on either a hanger or drying rack to air dry.

    How to Wash Underwear in the Washing Machine 

    Workflow instructing how to wash underwear in the washing machine with stock photos of a sink, hands washing underwear and underwear hang drying

    Not all underwear garments need to be washed by hand. For more durable underwear fabrics such as the fabrics used to make Tommy John underwear, you can wash them in your washing machine. Be sure to follow the instructions below, to make sure you are still taking care of these garments as they go into the wash. 

    What You’ll Need to Wash Underwear in the Washing Machine 

    1. Washing Machine 
    2. Mild Detergent 
    3. Lingerie Bag
    4. 2 Clean Towels 
    5. Hangers or Drying Rack

      Step 1: Put Underwear into a Lingerie Bag

      Lingerie bags are designed to keep delicate garments safe in the washing machine. Putting underwear into a mesh or lingerie bag ensures that they won’t get tangled or snagged on other clothing. 

      Step 2: Wash the Load on a Gentle Cycle 

      Set your washer machine to a delicate cycle, and use cold water with a gentle detergent. Add your bag of bras to the wash and press start to run the delicate cycle.

      Step 3: Tumble Dry Underwear on a Low Setting

      When your load is done, gently pull your underwear out of the washer and put them in your dryer. Change your dryer setting to tumble dry on the lowest setting. If you don’t wish to dry your underwear by machine, follow the steps above for air drying!

      Step 4: Remove, Fold and Store

      Once your drying load is done, remove underwear from lingerie bags, fold and store!

      Underwear Washing Tips + Best Practices

      Four tips for washing underwear such as reading your garment’s tag, pre-treating stains and washing similar clothes together

      Now that you know the different methods for washing your underwear, consider the following tips for proper underwear care. 

      Read Your Garment Tag

      With any type of clothing, it’s always best to read your garment’s washing instructions. Usually, it can be located on a small garment tag on the inside of the back panel of underwear. Reading up on washing instructions can help you decide whether your type of underwear should go into the washing machine or be washed by hand.

      Pre-Treat Any Stains 

      To remove stains from underwear, pre-treat the stain before washing. Do so by dabbing a stain pre-treater or even dish soap on the area and let it sit for 10 minutes. 

      Turn Underwear Inside Out 

      Turn your underwear inside out when washing to reduce the wear and tear on delicate fabric. This step will get your underwear cleaner, too.

      Wash With Similar Items 

      Washing your underwear in a separate load can minimize fabric friction, avoid them getting caught on buttons and zippers and improve hygiene.

      Avoid Using Fabric Softener or Bleach  

      Fabric softener is a nightmare for nylon and polyester-based microfiber fabrics. Since microfiber is already silky soft, there’s no need for this extra step. It’s ok to use on cotton, but not recommended. Bleach is best left to heavy-duty washes, as it can weaken fabrics over time. If you need the extra disinfecting power of bleach, keep usage to every other wash to keep your underwear in tip-top condition

      Choose a Mild Detergent 

      Delicate fabrics like lace and mesh call for a gentle detergent like fine fabric detergent, free and gentle detergent, or mild dish liquid.

      Remove Washed Clothes Immediately

      Try your best to remove washed underwear immediately from your machine to prevent any mildew or wet laundry smell. 

      Avoid a Hot Dryer

      Air drying is the best way to help your underwear look better and last longer, but if you are in a hurry and need to use a dryer, tumble dry on a low setting. The average home dryer can generate heat up to 180°F, making the inside of your dryer a virtual oven. Underwear fabrics can’t take this type of heat and it will cause it to stretch and sag. 

      How to Wash Underwear by Fabric 

      Workflow instructing washing tips by fabric type including cotton, microfiber and lace.

      If you’re still stumped on whether to wash your underwear by hand or machine, look no further. We’ve outlined best practices for washing underwear by fabric type.


      Underwear made of cotton generally can be washed in the machine. Due to cotton’s durable fabric, it is one of the most widely used types of fabric in underwear thanks to its superior moisture absorption and soft touch. 

      How to Wash: Separate lights from darks, and wash separately. Machine wash at a cold temperature. 

      How to Dry: Air dry in the shade. If you’re in a hurry, tumble dry on the lowest heat setting and remove as soon as they’re dry.


      Microfibre is usually made of some kind of synthetic material, making them silky, soft, stretchy and quick-drying. Due to their nature, drying won’t be as necessary. 

      How to Wash: Machine was at a cold temperature.

      How to Dry: Air dry only, as heat can harm synthetic fabrics. 

      Lace, Mesh or Silk 

      Our rule is, if you can see through it, then it should be washed delicately and if possible, by hand. If you are washing in a machine, avoid washing sheer, lace and mesh fabric underwear in the same cycle as rougher fabrics. Also, be cautious of washing this type of underwear with any items that have buttons or hooks as the fabric can snag. 

      How to Wash: Wash on a delicate cycle in cold water or if possible, hand wash. 

      How to Dry: Air dry on a flat surface. Avoid hanging with clothespins to prevent stretching the fabric.

      Underwear Washing FAQs

      Close-up of a woman wearing seamless underwear a seamless bra and a beige robe

      Some of us don’t learn how to properly wash our underwear until we are on our own. To help guide those who might be newer to underwear care, we’ve answered frequently asked underwear washing questions below. 

      How often to wash underwear?

      Underwear should be washed after every use. Since they are in close contact with your skin and sweat, washing them after every use keeps them fresh and clean. 

      Should you wash underwear separately?

      If possible, wash your underwear separately from other types of clothing. Washing your underwear in a separate load can minimize fabric friction, avoid them getting caught on buttons and zippers and limit the spread of germs.

      Is washing underwear in a machine safe?

      Washing underwear in a machine is safe. If you are cautious about contamination, clean your machine by running an empty cycle after every underwear load.

      What temperature should you wash underwear?

      We recommend washing your underwear in cold water as hot water sets stains and wears out the fabric.

      How to remove stains from underwear?

      To remove stains from underwear, pre-treat the stain before washing. Do so by dabbing a stain pre-treater or even dish soap on the area and let it sit for 10 minutes. 

      Should you wash underwear before wearing it?

      Yes! Wash newly purchased underwear or other clothing before wearing it to rid of any germs. 

      What’s the best detergent for underwear?

      What’s considered the best detergent is up to your personal preference, however for cleaning underwear, we recommend a gentle or delicate option. 

      How to wash Tommy John underwear?

      For washing Tommy John underwear, we recommend machine washing on cold with like colors. For drying, use the lowest setting (tumble dry) and avoid using bleach or softeners. For more information, explore our product care page.

      We hope our guide has helped you learn more about how to wash underwear. If amid cleaning, you find a few of your garments have run their course, use our underwear size chart to find replacements that fit like a dream. Start shopping our men’s or women’s underwear collection today to experience the true meaning of comfort.