Underwire bras are a wardrobe basic, but they can be expensive, whether mom is picking up the tab or you are. Proper washing will help your bras last and retain their shape, and prevent painful poking and prodding from bent wires. Wired bras are more likely to experience damage, rather than just wear, in the wash, so you can't just toss them in with your jeans. Whether you opt for hand or machine washing, smart laundry strategies can keep your bras looking their best.

Hand Washing

Step 1

Fill a sink with lukewarm water.

Step 2

Add a small amount of an alcohol-free detergent to the water, allowing it to dissolve completely.

Step 3

Place bras in the sink, gently rubbing the fabric to remove any visible dirt. Allow really dirty bras to soak for as long as an hour, particularly if you've worn them to work out or it's been a bit too long since you've done laundry. Wash bras of the same color together, working from light to dark. White, nude and pastel shades can go in the same wash, as can bright colors. Wash black, navy or red tones by themselves, particularly if they're new.

Step 4

Rinse your bras with clean, lukewarm water.

Step 5

Place the washed bras on a towel and blot gently to remove any excess moisture. Reshape the molded bra cups as needed. Hang to dry from a clothesline or hanging rack.

Machine Washing

Step 1

Fasten the hook and eye closures on your bras.

Step 2

Place the bras into a zippered mesh laundry bag. Separate light, bright and dark bras from one another.

Step 3

Set the washer to the gentle or delicates cycle, and place the mesh bag in the washer. Add other lightweight and delicate items to the washer, if you like. Avoid washing your bras with heavy items such as towels or jeans. These are likely to bend the wires in your bras, making them uncomfortable or even unwearable. Wash in cool water, using a detergent designed for delicates.

Step 4

Remove the bras from the washer. Reshape the bra cups as needed by hand and hang to dry.