Washing bras in a washing machine can cause problems. In fact problems caused by washing bras are surprisingly common. Many bras should be hand washed only, but most people still put them in the washing machine (check the wash label). The straps can get tangled around other laundry and even get ripped off of the bra if it gets caught between the drum and the door seal. A more common problem is that the underwires from bras commonly come out during washing and get in between the outer tub and the inner drum. This can result in an expensive washing machine breakdown.
Underwires are usually sown into the bra but they very often work loose due to the stresses of repeated washing. The main problems associated with underwires in a washing machine are when one works loose and gets down between the tub and drum resulting in the following possible faults –
Metalic scraping noise
A metallic scraping noise when the drum turns – can be recreated when turning the drum by hand. (See bottom of article for help removing a bra wire from a washing machine)
The underwire can become broken in two or the ends worn off and become very sharp. They can then pierce the sump hose causing a leak
The underwire often lays in the bottom of the outer tub under the revolving drum and clothes can snag on it and get torn or otherwise damaged when pressed through the holes in the drum during spin.
Blocking the pump
The underwire can easily find its way into the pump filter or inside the pump itself. It can physically stop the pump from running. Alternatively, fluff and lint snag on it and after a while the build up of fabric is large enough to block the pump.
Even Mrs Whitegoodshelp refuses to wash her bras by hand. Over the years I’ve had at least a couple of incidences when a bra wire has jammed the pump on our washing machine and she refused to pay my call out charge to fix it ;-)
Apparently she’s had several incidents where a bra has got severely tangled up too. So when I recently discovered a special net designed to protect bras in the washing machine I decided to buy one and try it out.
Is there a bra wire stuck inside your washing machine?
Related: If you think you have a bra wire stuck inside your washing machine I’ve written a little diy repair help article here for you – Something (bra wire?) stuck in washing machine
Buy bra protector
Amazon has a great collection of bra net protectors designed to protect bras in the washing machine and a variety was net washing bags to protect other laundry – Bra net protector bags
Review. We use one by WPro. It’s very well made and is likely to last, which justifies the term “professional” being used to describe it. It is made of much thicker and stronger material than most washing nets and is in fact bra-cup-shaped. I think the idea is for it to maintain its shape during the wash and in turn help maintain the shape of the bra inside.
It’s made of two layers of material, the outer material having larger holes in them in to let detergent and water easily inside and the inner material is quite fine. The whole thing is stitched together very well and has a quality nylon zip to open and close it.
You can only fit one bra inside, but it should protect one from tangling with other items of laundry, as well as preventing the strap getting trapped between the drum and the door seal. If an underwire comes loose it should also contain it inside this bag.
I would recommend it particularly for protecting an expensive bra, but at the end of the day even a cheap bra could do with being prevented from damaging the actual washing machine in the ways described above. Ironically a cheaper bra is more likely to lose its under wire or strap. You could buy at least four of these bra protectors for less than the cost of most manufacturers labour charges, or at least two for the price of getting a decent local repair man in.
My main criticism would be that it would be better if it was a bit bigger as large bras would be packed inside a little tightly and this could impede wash efficiency. At the end of the day though, bra underwires are responsible for lot of problems in washing machines.
Footnote: You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve pulled out bra wires from a washing machine and a customer has emphatically said they have no underwires missing from any bra (which begs the question, what use are the bra wires if customers commonly never even notice when one goes missing?) Or they claim they have no bras that even contain underwires. They say something like, “I don’t have any of that kind of bra”. I can only assume that bra wires are fitted in many so-called normal bras but some people think they are only in the fancy, lift and separate ones.
I’ve even found bra wires in washing machines owned by single men but let’s not over analyse that. There could be a perfectly innocent explanation.