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Bra Care 101: Washing Your Bra

Bras are complicated garments with a variety of parts and materials, some of which are very delicate. For this reason, it’s important that you know the rules about caring for your bras. In this post, I’ll tell you how to wash your bra (and other delicate lingerie). 


How Often You Should Wash Your Bras

As a lingerie expert and industry insider, one of the most common questions I hear is “How often should I wash my bras?” Almost every time I give my answer, I get the same surprised reaction.

So, here’s my answer. If you want to keep your bras in the best shape as possible for as long as possible, you should wash your bra after every wear – or, at the very least, after every two wears. If you must wear a bra twice between washings, it needs at least one day off to rest. This allows the elastic the recovery time it needs to return to its normal position.

Why so often? Because a bra is worn directly against your body. That means it’s constantly collecting body oils, sweat, lotions, perfumes, and skin cells. The elastic, which is a key component found in the bra’s band and straps (and sometimes in the inside edges of the cups, especially in strapless bras), doesn’t respond well to prolonged and repeated exposure to these elements.

Over time, if not washed frequently, these substances decrease the elastic’s ability to stretch and contract. A proper wash is the only way you can remove these substances so the elastic can go back to doing its job of keeping your bra snug against your body.

This leads to the very important question, “What is the right way to wash my bras?”

How to Wash Your Bras

I’ll begin with the most important rule. Do NOT put your bra in the washing machine. I know it’s tempting because it’s easy, especially if you’re supposed to wash your bra after every wear. But I cannot stress this enough: If you want your bra to last and continue to fit you properly, don’t be lazy about this. Your bra, and eventually your wallet, will pay the price.

In recent years, women have been lulled into the false belief that bras can be safely put in the washer. Just use a lingerie bag, set it on delicate, and use cold water. Then they’re surprised when their bras come out warped, or the elastic loses its strength and grip.

Bras are delicate and carefully engineered undergarments. Many of them also have underwires in the bottoms of the cups or side boning. Those wires are important for lift, support, and shaping. They need to be able to keep their shape to do their job. When put in the washer (even on a delicate cycle), the water pressure and the pressure of the other items in the washer with your bra (even in a lingerie bag) could cause the wire to twist and lose its shape.

Bra hooks can an also catch onto and snag the other items in the wash even if they’re in a lingerie bag, and even if you fasten them first.

So, instead of throwing your bras in the washing machine, you should be hand washing and soaking them. After all, the soil bras collect is made up of body oils – not dirt or grass stains. The key is to avoid the washer, use a gentle soap, and never use bleach.

How to Dry Your Bras

The bottom line is this: The dryer will destroy the elastic in your bras (and in any piece of lingerie, for that matter) – regardless of what temperature you use.

Always air dry your bras in a cool place, and out of the sun. The key is to lay them flat so they can resume their original form without being exposed to any heat or elements that could cause damage to the elastic.

Learn more about how to care for your lingerie here.

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