Finding the right bra is a trying process, and finding eco-friendly undies adds a whole new level of challenge. Even if you don’t opt for super-green underthings, “Wear No Evil” author Greta Eagan recommends buying high-quality garments that will last a long time. That’s still more sustainable than replacing these essentials frequently, while saving you money in terms of cost-per-wear.
To be sure you get the most life out of your underwear, it’s good to use a little more care when cleaning them.
A bra that goes through the washer and dryer may become misshapen in about a year (I ruined a lot of bras in college this way), and the metal fasteners can be hard on your dryer. Hand-washing will extend the life of a bra by many years. Any panties, briefs or boxers with elastic will also have a longer life with hand washing.
Hand washing may seem more time-consuming, but the good news is that you don’t have to scrub. Swishing your undies around in the sink for a couple of minutes will do the trick.
Use cold water to wash underwear, it’s better for stretchy fabrics and less likely to fade dyes. Just like your machine loads, it’s best to separate colors, whites and darks.
Be sure to close any hooks or fasteners before washing, to prevent them from catching on lace or tearing holes.
We know that cleaning chemicals can be harsh on our skin, but the same also goes for our undies. Clothing and lingerie designer Victoria Bartlett writes that eco-friendly detergent is actually kinder to fabrics. Our sister site MNN has a great list of the least toxic detergents.
Even if you’re having the kind of week where machine-washing is the only option besides going commando, it’s still better to air-dry. You can either line-dry (hang bras by their straps) or lay your underwear flat on a clean towel.