You’ve successfully completed Bra Hacks 101, now for the next lesson. For class two, we’re here to share tips on how to wash and dry you bras, without destroying them. After you’ve finally found a bra with the right amount of padding and support, that’s cute but doesn’t show through your top, and that actually fits, the last thing you want is to ruin the thing in the wash. And you do have to wash it; you can’t buy a new bra after you wear the old one enough times that it changes color. It doesn’t matter if it’s a regular t-shirt bra or your fancy for-special-occasions lace bra, the same care should be taken when washing all your delicates, to keeping them looking their best. We don’t discriminate here.

Here are the tips on how to wash your bras without ruining them:

1.  Don’t wash them after every single wear

There’s no exact rule about when to wash your bra. You don’t want to wash it after every wear since that will stretch it out faster. Some people wash their bras after a certain number of wears, while others say if it smells, it’s time to pop it in the wash.

If you’ve done some intensive exercise, like running a marathon (hope you had the sports bra on for that),  then it’s a good idea to wash that sucker that day. Because it’s hotter and you sweat more in summer, you’ll probably need to wash your bras more frequently than in winter. I personally take the same approach to washing my bras as I do my jeans, and I do wash my jeans, unlike the CEO of Levi’s. I take a less-is-more approach–if I’ve worn it for a few times and can’t remember when the last time I washed it was, I put the bras in the laundry.

2. Check the label first

Most bras are washable, unless you own a super fancy one with leather, diamantes or one of those $5 million dollar diamond-encrusted Victoria’s Secret ones. In those cases, they may be strictly hand wash or wear-and-throw-out-after-the-escapade sort of thing. Though I would recommenced you pawn the gazillion dollar one, rather than putting it in the trash.

3. Try to hand wash whenever possible

Most experts, including  Fig Leaves, recommend that you hand wash your delicates. Yes, it’s a bit time consuming but you extend the life of your bras significantly. Agent Provocateur suggests using gentle soap flakes, hand washing liquid or a neutral shampoo. Use cool to lukewarm water–get the tap too hot and you’ll risk that pretty pink bra’s color bleeding.

4. If you must put them in the washing machine, use a lingerie bag

A lingerie bag helps protect your dainty bras from the wear and tear of the washing machine. Victoria’s Secret has one that holds up to four bras. Make sure you set the machine to cold wash on a gentle cycle. The same laundry 101 rules apply to bras. Wash your darks and lights separate. Also, try to wash your bras with other lightweight pieces–don’t throw them in with your white jeans, towels or your jacket.

5. Never use bleach

Most of us have no idea what those supposedly universal laundry symbols on tags actually mean. Here’s an important one to know: the triangle with the ‘X’ through it means no bleach, and most bras have that that care symbol. In other words, don’t get the Clorox near your lingerie drawer. l don’t care if that white bra is a weird shade of brown. Do not bleach it unless you want your bra to start melting (I’m sure this is the look you’re really going for). Fig Leaves suggests using a mild detergent that’s specifically formulated for delicate pieces such as Nordstrom Lingerie Wash.

6. Fasten the closures

Before putting your bra in the lingerie bag, ensure that the closures are done up. This will prevent them from twisting around each other and morphing into some bizarre pompom. It will also stop stray hooks from attaching themselves onto expensive lace and ripping a lovely hole in the cup.

7. Don’t squeeze them dry

Don’t undo all your good work hand washing your bras by man-handling them to get the water out. Don’t wring them or attempt to squeeze the excess water out of the cups. You’ll risk popping out the wire and distorting the cup shape. Gently pat dry, then lay flat.

8. Never hang your bras from a clothesline

Don’t look at the picture and copy this because it’s bad. It’s the same reason you should never hang sweaters on hangers (if you do, you’re naughty). Gravity will pull on the stretchy fabric causing it to grow and change shape. Hang your bra from the band and it will stretch out that much faster. Don’t think about hanging it from the cups unless you want indents in them from the clothes pegs. (And you can’t iron those out, see #10)

To dry your bra properly, lay it flat on a towel. Do not hang them over rads or any direct source of heat, because heat is bad for the elastic in bras (see below for more proof)

9. Don’t ever put them in the dryer

Never, ever put your bra in the dryer. If you don’t have any dry bras, either wear the thing wet or go braless. Seriously. One of those other laundry symbols on your bra tag (the square with the semi circle at the top) means lay flat to dry.

10. Never iron

If you’re like me, you probably don’t iron the stuff that needs to be pressed, so you don’t have to worry about this. However, if you’re one of those people who even irons their sheets, keep that iron away from you bra. It doesn’t have any wrinkles or needs pressing. Try to iron it and you will ruin the bra and the iron, after the bra melts onto it.

11. Store them properly

You just spent all this time washing them properly, don’t ruin it by throwing them in your drawer under the sweaters. Like Sam suggested, stack your bras when you store them. It looks pretty as a lingerie shop display and it helps them keep their shape.