The fancy lingerie boutiques will fuss with me for this, but my take is that as long as you never put stuff in the dryer, you’re fine. OBVIOUSLY there are exceptions; if you have some hard-core leather dominatrix stuff or something you spent $500 on at Agent Provocateur or $100 silk stockings, yeah, you’re gonna want to care for them like they’re your first born child and follow the instructions on the label, but here’s what I, a primarily mid-range/frequent bargain shopper/non-silk underwear owner do:
NEVER PUT UNDERWEAR IN THE DRYER. NEVER DO THIS.
Don’t you do it.
The dryer is so mean to your lingerie. It will knock the underwires around and push them through the fabric. The blasts of heat will degrade the Lycra so your bras will stretch out of shape sooner and lose their support, and then you’ll have to buy more, and the damn things aren’t cheap. Even if you don’t wear underwires, your bras and briefs and (ESPECIALLY) stockings are made out of delicate materials, and the dryer is not delicate. Air dry, air dry, air dry. Get a drying rack, stick it in the bathtub, pull the shower curtain closed, and let everything drip dry in privacy.
When we had a tiny washing machine in the kitchen of my miracle apartment, Roommate and I would wash our underwear on the machine’s delicate setting. You should take a few precautions: use Woolite or a gentle laundry detergent or one of those expensive lingerie washes the fancy stores guilt you into buying and then you never replace once it runs out. Make sure all of your bras/suspender belts are hooked closed, so the hooks are less likely to catch on other things (think of your lace! your stockings!). Pack your items gently into a mesh laundry bag, and try not to cram everything in: you want to leave some room so that the water/detergent can reach all the pieces and get them thoroughly clean.
Nowadays, when the laundry machines are an entire elevator ride away (I KNOW, I’M SPOILED AND LAZY), I hand-wash my underwear, which is what you “should” be doing anyway. Fill up the tub (or kitchen sink or what have you) with cold water and use the same Woolite/gentle detergent/fancy lingerie wash, in the amount indicated on the label for hand-washing/a small load (generally around 2-3 tbsp.). Hook all your bras and suspender belts closed. Let everything soak in the tub for a few minutes, swirling it around occasionally. If there’s a spot on an item you can gently scrub at it until it’s gone, or pre-soak it in cold (always cold) water and a bit of dish soap or hand soap. I sometimes let everything swim around for 20 minutes or so while I take care of other chores/catch up on Parks & Rec. Does the water in the tub now look super gross? Yep! Drain the tub, and gently press the water out of your clothes. Refill with cold water, swish, drain, repeat. When the water remains mostly clear, gently press the water out of your clothes (don’t wring! laying everything out flat on a bath towel and rolling the towel up like a jelly roll helps) and hang to dry. Woo! You’re done.
Fix yourself a drink and feel very classy for taking care of your underwear like a goddamned LADY.