Washing bras is nothing new to you. You’ve been doing it for as long as you’ve been wearing bras, but – without knowing it – you’ve probably been doing more harm than good in the process.
In an ideal world, bra care would be as simple as tossing them in the wash (which you definitely can and we’ll go into later), but there’s way more to it now with how much bras have changed. We should all think of washing bras as a labor of love. They give you support and comfort, and all they need in return is a good bath. The last thing we’d want to do to a bra we love is ruin it.
How (and how often) you wash your bras can make or break their lifespans. So hold onto your bust - we’re going to explain everything you need to know about how to wash your bras, underwear, and lingerie, and answer any other “how-to” questions when it comes to caring for your best bras.
How To Hand Wash Bras
If you’re thinking that hand washing bras is complicated and not worth the trouble, you’re not alone (you’re wrong, but not alone). Hand washing bras is the best and expert-recommended way to extend their lifespan. The delicate nature of bras means delicate handling, so here’s a step-by-step process of how to hand wash bras.
1. Fill the Sink with Cool Water
Start with a clean bathroom sink and fill it with cool or lukewarm water. Avoid using hot water as it can break down the elastics in the fabric and accelerate your bra’s fit becoming too loose.
2. Add Detergent
Use only a small amount of detergent (preferably alcohol-free), just enough to work up a light lather. Too much will leave a residue.
3. Let it Soak
Let the bra soak for about an hour before rubbing it gently between your hands to work in the lather.
4. Rinse the Bra
Rinse the bra in cool water until it runs clear, then squeeze out excess water. Never wring out the water as it’ll stretch out the bra’s fabric.
5. Towel Dry to Remove Water
Lay clean bras on a flat towel and press with another towel to remove any remaining water.
6. Allow to Air Dry on Hangers
Always hang dry your bras. It’s important for bras to be air dried because intense heat from a machine dryer will cause damage and affect the fit. They’ll need at least a day (maybe two) to fully dry, so it’s a good idea to have plenty of other bras to wear while the washed ones dry.
Even if you can’t hand wash your bras all the time, it’ll still help to prolong their lifespan if you’re able to give it a go every so often. And who said it can’t be fun? Maybe there’s a bra washing Spotify playlist you can queue up (and if not, we should probably make one).
How To Wash Bras in the Washing Machine
Hand washing bras isn’t always an option – we get that. Life is busy, roommates are in and out of the bathroom, plus a hundred more reasons why hand washing your bras is out. That said, there is a right way to machine wash your bras and here’s how:
1. Set the Cycle
Set your washer on a delicate cycle, and use cold water with an alcohol-free, gentle detergent.
2. Use a Mesh or Lingerie Bag
Use a mesh or lingerie bag to keep the bras from getting snagged on the machine’s agitator. Hook the back of your bras to keep them from getting tangled within the bag.
3. Don't Put in the Dryer
Don’t wring out your bras, or worse, put them in the dryer. Towel press and hang dry them the same as you would when hand washing.
Side note: bras with molded cups may get slightly misshapen in the wash. Simply reshape them with your hands and they’ll be good to go. When you’d rather not deal, bras with removable pads like True Body and True Weekend are your best bet.
How to Store Bras
Tempting as it might be, avoid stuffing all your bras and panties into a drawer. Separate padded bras and bras with molded cups to prevent them from puckering (AKA that ugly wrinkling in the middle) when inverted or folded.
Maintaining your bra’s shape is another important part of making sure it lasts as long as it should, and a drawer with dividers will help do just that.
Bra Care FAQs: Our Expert Tips
Now that you know how to wash and store your bras like an expert, let’s get to your most commonly asked questions.
How often do you need to wash your bra?
How often women don’t wash their bras actually became a heated topic on Twitter earlier this year.. While it’s best to wash your bras after 2-3 wears, some women admitted to waiting as long as 2-3 months (yeesh)! The reason one woman gave for not washing her bra more often is that it was the only bra that fit her. Girl, if you’re reading this, let us help you with that!
Fun fact: You actually don’t have to sweat much for your bra to get dirty, even if it doesn’t look or feel that way. Your body transfers its natural oils to your bra’s fabric the minute you put it on, and the longer those oils stay in your bra, the more skin-irritating bacteria thrives. All that can lead to rashes, infections, and breakouts. So, wash more!
How often do you need to replace your bras?
When properly cared for, bras should last an average of 8 months, which means we’ve all been guilty of wearing bras well past their prime (you know, the ones with loose bands and damaged hooks we can’t seem to part with?).
We learned that 25% of our Fit Quiz takers hang onto their bras for 1-2 years, and 17% keep theirs for 2 or more. While knowing how to hand wash and machine wash your bras will help them last longer, it’s also possible for your bra size to change within that time frame (without even knowing it), so if you take good care of your bras but they still don’t seem to fit quite right, check out our foolproof guide on how to measure bra size.