Should You Hand Wash or Machine Wash Underwear?

Should you Hand Wash or Machine Wash Underwear?

Underwear is delicate. It’s usually made from breathable, moisture wicking material that’s unlike any other fabric in your wardrobe. Because of that, underwear typically demands a particular method of washing to make sure that you’re keeping ‘em clean, but preserving the color, fit and feel of the buttery smooth fabric.

In general, most people recommend either hand washing or machine washing your underwear with cold water. We wrote an in depth article on how to wash and dry your underwear, but we thought a standalone article breaking down hand washing vs. machine washing underwear was necessary.

Machine Washing Underwear

To start, never wash your underwear with hot water – that’s a sure-fire way to destroy the fabric, loosen the waistband and fade the color. Because most people typically wash their clothes in hot water, that means you may have to keep your undies aside and wash them separately with cold water. There are some benefits to washing underwear with cold water instead of hot water, and you can read them  here. Basically, cold water provides a deep clean while saving the underwear and saving you some dollars.

But at the same time, the washing machine isn’t particularly underwear-friendly. Even if you decide to machine wash your boxer briefs in cold water, you can’t forget that they’ll be swishing around the drum, rubbing against all your other clothes. This friction helps remove stains and bacteria, but constant tumbling can produce microtears in the fabric. Over several washes, these microtears will add up and eventually lead to holes, pilling and broken seams.

If your main concern is saving money, then machine washing probably isn’t the best way to wash your underwear. Compared to handwashing, machine washing underwear uses up a lot of water that you wouldn’t use if you were to hand wash ‘em. Machine washing might drive up your hydro and energy bill.

If your main concern is time, then you can’t beat the washing machine. Imagine filling up a sink, adding detergent and cleaning each pair of underwear individually – it could take quite a while. Many of us are always on the go and don’t have time to hand wash our clothes. If that’s you, machine washing your underwear might be a better fit than hand washing.

Should You Machine Wash or Hand Wash Underwear?

Hand Washing Underwear

Compared to machine washing, hand washing your underwear will help preserve the fabric, waistband and color of your undies longer. By handwashing underwear, you remove the harsh washing machine environment from the equation. Sure, there’s still friction when you’re trying to remove stains and make sure you do a good job cleaning, but there’s overall less tumbling, rubbing up against other fabric and scraping against the washer walls. With that in mind, hand-washing underwear is the way to go if you have the time and are concerned with the integrity of the fabric over time.

Hand washing underwear will also save you some money. Rather than fill up a huge washing machine with water to clean a couple of pairs of underwear, instead you’re filling up a small reservoir and using that to wash your undies. Switching to handwashing will save you some money on hydro and energy.

The main con of handwashing? The time. It takes more time and is 100% more tedious than setting and forgetting the washing machine. If you’re constantly on the go, then handwashing underwear may not be for you.

Finally, we can’t forget about the environment. When you use less water, you’re doing your part to helping the environment. In that respect, handwashing is the more sustainable option of the two.

Hand Washing vs. Machine Washing Underwear

In general, there are pros and cons to both methods of washing your underwear. The one you choose will largely be dictated by your lifestyle, finances and values. If you’re concerned about money, the environment and getting the most wears out of your undies, handwashing your underwear is the way to go. If you’re more concerned with getting your laundry done quickly, then machine washing your underwear may be better for you.

Either way, you still need to make sure you’re always stocked up on underwear. The more underwear you have, the less each pair needs to be washed. For example, if you have 8 pairs of boxer briefs, then you’ll probably need to wash each pair once a week (assuming you only wear each pair once…please do that). Within a month, you’ve washed each pair 4 times. Those won’t maintain their color, feel and fit for very long. On the other hand, if you had 30 pairs or underwear, then you can cycle through a pair a day. At the end of the month, you’ve probably only washed each pair once. Those are going to last much longer. Like anything in life, invest in premium stuff to spend less over time. You can either get $400 boots that’ll last you 4 winters or cheaply made $50 boots that’ll break down after 1 year. Likewise, you can buy new cheap underwear every month or invest some money up front to stock up on high quality boxer briefs.

Lucky for you, we make some of the best boxer briefs on the damn planet – buttery soft, incredibly breathable and made with premium materials. Check ‘em out.

Pros and Cons of Machine Washing Underwear:


  • Faster
  • Less tedious


  • May cost more (hydro + energy)
  • Environmentally unfriendly
  • May cause more fading, microtears and ruin the waistband over time


Pros and Cons of Hand Washing Underwear:


  • Better for the fabric, color and waistband
  • Uses less water – better for the environment and may lower your hydro + energy bill


  • Takes longer
  • Tedious
  • Will still cause damage over time (but less than the washing machine)