I got this in the mail recently:
"I recently had an issue with one of my bra and the same thing happened to another one. The bras fit me perfectly but after being washed the bra doesn't fit well anymore and the cups look deformed. What do you think would be the problem ? (both bras are from Triumph)."
First of all, I have heard about many Triumph bras being low-quality, especially when you look at their price. Compared to them many british brands are often of much better quality, for example Curvy Kates are pretty much indestructible (the best bras to take to an abandoned island!) I throw my Panaches, Ewa Michalaks and Fantasies into the washing machine regularly and none of them "died" yet. In fact, most of them still look good!
Bras are usually made of several different materials, each one behaving differently when it comes into contact with water, heat and agitation. A good bra brand takes all this into account when creating a new bra model!
How to wash a bra properly, so that it maintains its fit and looks:
Machine WashingFor non-moulded bras, and when you can´t be bothered with hand-washing.
I confess I wash most of my bras this way, except the moulded strapless from Ewa Michalak. I put the bras into little washing bags, to keep them from getting entangled around other clothes and to protect them from zippers, buttons and other nasty things. Also, did you know that the washing bags protect the washing machine? In the rare case that an underwire decides to make a bid for freedom, it could seriously damage your washing machine. So, invest in those bags, ladies.
Which kind of bra washing bag to buy? The firmer washing bags are great, some even have plastic parts. Bra balls are great for padded stuff. If you are wearing a bigger cup size, be careful -- a typical bra washing bag may be too small for larger cup sizes. In that case a normal mesh washing bag (not meant specifically for bras) is also fine.
I try to wash my bras on the wool or delicate settings (never hot). In case I only have a "normal" load, I make sure it is one the coolest temperature setting that I have (30°C) and the spin cycle is on low. Use a detergent meant for delicates (I like the one from Ecover). You don´t need a special detergent meant only for lingerie. I always air-dry my bras (well, I don´t even own a drier, but of you do, please never throw your bras into the drier!)
I have to add that in Germany we don´t sweat for a bigger part of the year, so I wear a bra several times between washing it. If you live in a hotter climate and need to wash the bra after every wear, hand washing might be better for you.
Hand WashingFor molded and delicate bra models, your favourite stuff, and if you care about keeping your bras looking good and keeping their shape for very long.
It's a good idea to first soak the bras for half an hour with a dash of mild detergent, that way the dirt will get loose and you wont have to rub so much when washing. Then wash the bras by hand, and with lukewarm / cool water. Be gentle, don't pull or rub when not necessary. I recommend using a simple natural soap, based on vegetable oils and free from SLS (best for your bras and your hands). To further protect your hands, you can use rubber gloves. Don´t wring the bra, just press inside a towel and then allow to air dry.
Do you hand-wash or machine-wash your bras? What are your tricks to not destroy bras when washing them? Any horror-stories you'd like to share?