The bra washing battle lines have been divided. In one camp, the one wear washers, those insistent on wearing the freshest bra possible each day, whether that means lots of laundry or a full underwear drawer of options. On the other side, the “bras are like jeans” believers, who think it’s completely crazy to launder your lingerie any more frequently than absolutely necessary, defending their position with the argument that less washing means a longer lifespan.
So where do you fall? And why hasn’t anyone ever told you the “right” answer? Let us break down bra care when it comes to washing frequency and options.
How Often Should You Wash Your Bra?
Here’s the deal, bra washing, just like bra wearing, is truly a matter of personal preference, and a few external factors.
The first factor is rotation, meaning how many bras do you wear regularly and how much time do you give each to rest between wearings. The experts generally agree here that letting the elastic in your bra rest a day or two after wearing can help both the band and straps last longer. Whether you opt for one go-to style in a variety of colors or cycle through a few neckline or strap options to match your wardrobe, having at least 3-5 allows you ample ability to rotate and rest.
Second, let’s talk weather. Depending on the climate and season where you live, adjust to washing your bras more or less frequently. You’re likely sweating more when it’s hot out, so if you feel like you just did a workout when you take off your bra, it’s likely time to wash (for what it’s worth, sports bras should be washed after each workout, accordingly).
Lastly, bra style can also be a factor to consider. Underwire styles especially may require extra care as they tend to be tighter to your skin, collecting more dirt and bacteria than a bra with soft cup construction.
Bottom line: your bra is like a second skin, so before it starts to get grimy, send it to the showers. Your body’s natural oils transfer to your bra and while it may not look especially dirty, repeated wearing without washing runs the risk of skin irritation like breakouts and rashes. We like a rule of thumb of every 2-3 wears, which if you’ve got a good rotation going, might only be a few times per month.
How to Wash Bras
Now that we’ve got the frequency, let’s talk approach to bra care. Our most delicate garments, bras deserve a bit of extra love when it comes to washing, which we delve into step by step in our How to Wash Bras guide.
Basically, you’ve got two options, the more time intensive but also better for your bra hand washing approach and the quicker, albeit a bit harsher washing machine.
Wash by Hand
Nearly everything you read about bra washing will start with a recommendation to hand wash, for good reason. Bras can best keep their shape and retain fit through a gentle soak in cool water and air drying. Experts agree this approach will extend a bras lifespan, meaning a little extra time might save you a lot of extra money in the long run.
Wash in the Washing Machine
If hand washing isn’t feasible (and we totally get that it isn’t always), machine washing is better than not washing as it will of course get rid of built up oil and bacteria. As with hand washing cool or cold water is best, along with the delicate setting and a mesh or lingerie bag is a good idea (also hook bras to avoid closures getting tangled). And while the washer is ok on occasion, the dryer is always a no go, so towel press and hang dry just as you would if hand washing.
At True&Co we want you to find a bra you love, and be able to keep wearing it as long as possible. Show your bras a little love in return through rotation, rest and responsible rejuvenation and they’ll stay in shape to support you.