Mesh lingerie bags protect their contents from snagging, stretching, and generally getting beat up in the washing machine — but despite the name, they’re not just for lingerie. When used correctly, mesh bags will keep a wide variety of delicate clothing in tip-top shape for years to come. Here’s how to use them.
Choose the right clothes
If you hate hand-washing clothes, you might be tempted to use lingerie bags as a substitute. This can work, but some clothes are too fragile to go through a spin cycle, no matter what. For best results, choose clothes that fall somewhere between “hand wash only” and “toss in the machine” on the fragility scale: Nice blouses and dress shirts, most underwear, any kind of tech or performance fabric, wool socks, silk base layers, or even old T-shirts you’re emotionally attached to and want to keep wearing for as long as possible.
Zip (or button) ‘em up
Hooks, buttons, zippers, and other fasteners can easily snag on other clothes during a wash cycle — even from inside a mesh bag. Always close them up before washing so they can’t cause any damage. If there are an annoying number of fasteners to deal with, just close a few so the packet stays flat in the wash.
The biggest downside to lingerie bags is that they’re easy to overfill, which prevents the garments from getting properly cleaned and rinsed. Most bags are designed to hold a single item that’s about the same size and shape as the bag itself. You can get away with putting multiple smaller items (think socks and underwear) in one bag as long as they can move around easily — but when in doubt, err on the side of under-filling.
Wash on cold and skip the dryer
Lingerie bags aren’t magical, damage-repelling force fields, so don’t expect them to protect your delicate clothes from hot water — or worse, the heat from the dryer. Stick to short, cold wash cycles and air drying. On top of extending the life of your clothes, you’ll use less energy, cut down on your utility costs, and lessen your overall environmental impact.