Sorry for the impertinent question, but are you washing your pants properly?
For most of us the answer is probably ‘Yeah, I chuck them in the washing machine and tumble dryer with everything else’, but according to an underwear expert, this is not really the best way to look after them. In fact, it could explain why many of us own knickers that are greying, misshapen and trailing broken elastic or lace (or indeed, a lovely combination of all of the above).
Katie Lopes, founder of excellent underwear brand Stripe & Stare (famed for selling the comfiest knickers around) has filled us in on how we should be looking after our undies.
In an ideal world, says Katie, we’d actually hand wash knickers in warm water. However, she acknowledges that ‘we lead very busy lives so the likelihood is that they will have to go in the washing machine’ but recommends putting knickers in a lingerie wash bag (her favourite brand is Guppy Friend but you can also buy them from John Lewis) These wash bags will prevent your underwear from getting stretched, and help stop fibres shedding from the fabric, which in turn helps to stop microplastics from entering the ocean.
Another golden rule of Katie’s? ‘Never tumble dry your knickers’. She points out that underwear doesn’t take long to dry on a washing line or airer, and that tumble dryers are ‘a killer’ for lacy lingerie in particular.
Of course, keeping your knickers nicer for longer by using laundry bags and line drying is good for the environment, since you can’t pass your knickers on secondhand. With this in mind, Stripe & Stare have recently launched a B-Edit collection, with knickers that completely biodegradable – you can literally bury them in the garden once they’re no longer wearable and they will have decomposed in 180 days. Another option for old knickers is to put them in textile recycling banks. It’s also better if you can choose pants made from more eco-friendly fabrics such as Lyocell, Tencel and sustainably-sourced cotton in the first place.