Underwear is a life essential. Nothing can really shake you to your core like the realization that you desperately need to do laundry if you want to have clean underwear for tomorrow. Why? Because underwear is one of those comforts that we depend on for life to go smoothly; the moment we realize that having a clean pair of underpants is on the line, we remember how much we appreciate always having fresh underwear ready to go.

But is there a certain way you should be washing your underwear? We’ve all heard it said that underwear should receive special washing care. Do we do it? Do we know what we’re supposed to be doing to protect our underwear in the first place? Are there really special wash instructions and do they matter?

We’re here to answer all your pressing questions about how to properly launder your underwear. Here are six tips that will help you give your undergarments the best clean without damaging them. Let’s dive in!

1. Wash Your Underwear With Like Colors and Items

To know whether your underwear is safe to be cleaned in a washing machine, make sure you read the tags attached. Cotton, spandex, and synthetic materials are generally safe to be thrown into the wash, but it’s smart to group all your undies into one load. If you have a large pile of underwear ready to go, wash them together rather than with other types of clothes. This will help keep your underwear looking its best, because you eliminate the chance of your underpants getting snagged on zippers, clasps, or buttons. And of course, make sure you wash like colors together to avoid color bleeding. 

2. Wash Underwear In Small Batches

If you want your underwear to come out of the washing machine as clean as it can be, keep the load size small. The more items in the washing machine, the less thorough of a clean that each item receives. This means it’s never a good idea to top off a large load with your underwear because you can’t guarantee how fresh they’ll come out of the wash. To conserve water, choose a small load setting and let those underpants get a good clean!

3. Dry Underwear On a Low Cycle

For those pairs of underwear that are safe to be washed in the washing machine, you can also expect to be able to dry them in the dryer—if you follow a few special instructions. Air drying your underwear is always an effective method, but the dryer can get the trick done too. Make sure you tumble dry your undies on a low heat or delicate setting. Once the load is finished, try to get them out of the machine as soon as you can, because there’s nothing worse than having your fresh load of underwear start smelling like mildew. 

4. Know When to Hand Wash

Not all underwear is made equally, so it’s true that some undergarments do require special washing instructions if you want to keep them fresh and long-lasting. For underwear made from delicate materials like silk, mesh, or lace, you should plan to wash them gently by hand. Doing so is simple, however. You can wash them in a bucket or container, or even directly in a clean sink filled with water. 

5. Know How to Hand Wash

After you’ve finished the first step of understanding which pairs of your underwear need to be hand washed, you need to know how to properly give them a good clean without damaging them. Fill your selected wash basin with cold water and a touch of detergent (the amount will depend on how much laundry you’re doing). Soak your underwear for a few minutes and start working the detergent into the fabric, paying special attention to the areas that need the deepest clean. Once you’ve adequately scrubbed, continue to soak your underwear for roughly 10 minutes in the soapy water. 

Then, rinse the suds out of your underpants (again, with cold water). Place the wet garments on a clean towel and pat the excess water out until you can hang your underwear without it dripping everywhere. 

6. Pre-treat Stains

Whether you’re hand washing or machine washing, don’t forget to spray any stains with stain remover before you begin laundering your undergarments. Aim to give at least 10 minutes for the solution to soak into the stain before washing it out. 

You wouldn’t want to live without underwear, which means you need to wash your underpants frequently enough for you to always have a clean pair ready for tomorrow. Although washing your underwear can feel daunting due to not knowing how best to give it a good clean, all it really takes is following these six tips. Pay attention to the wash and care instructions for each pair and group your underwear by the type of clean they need. If you do that, laundering your undergarments is simple!