Monday, August 30, 2010

Why Can't I Machine Wash My Lingerie?

Loyal readers and clients know that putting lingerie in the washing machine or, even worse, the dryer, is the biggest faux pas of them all. But some women still want to know: Why can't I machine wash my lingerie?

The answer is simple: spandex.

Spandex is the miracle material in lingerie that allows it to stretch and snap back to its original size. Without spandex, lingerie wouldn't comfortably follow your curves the way it does today.

Spandex is actually made up of many, long polymer fibers entwined into a ball like spaghetti. When the spandex is stretched, these fibers straighten out and once released return back to their entwined shape. This ability to expand and contract repeatedly, the same way each time, is what makes it so useful in lingerie.

Spandex fibers are strong and can remain elastic in garments for years, but spandex doesn't stand up well to heat or an alkaline environment. And guess what's in your washing machine? Yes, you guessed it; your washing machine is a hot alkaline environment. This environment breaks down the spandex fibers making them shorter until eventually they become useless.

Ideally you should wash your garments by hand, in lukewarm water with a pH neutral detergent like Forever New, because once you've invested in lingerie that makes you feel beautiful and sexy, you want to keep it looking its best for a long time to come.

* Thanks to the Hanky Panky blog for both the image and information on Spandex.

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