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Lingerie Care 101: How to Wash Your Bras

With all the money we invest in our bras, it only makes sense that we want to do whatever we can to keep them in good shape for as long as possible. Putting a little extra effort in properly caring for our bras can make a big difference in how long they last.


Have you ever put your bra in the washing machine with your other clothes? If so, you’re not alone. Let’s face it – we’ve all been there! Sometimes we don’t have time in our busy schedules to hand wash our delicates, so we just put them in the weekly laundry load and hope for the best. While you might get away with it on occasion, other times you could be doing serious damage to your bras. By not properly washing your bras, you’re not only risking wearing down the elastic and damaging delicate fabrics like lace and satin – you’re also potentially shaving time off their lifespans.

The good news is that properly washing and maintaining your bras isn’t as difficult or time consuming as you may think. Follow my helpful tips below and see for yourself. Your bras, and your bank account(!), will thank you!

How Often Should You Wash Your Bras?

The frequency with which you wash your bras really depends on these three factors:

Rotation: How many bras you rotate in a normal week

Wear & tear: How often and how long you wear each bra

Conditions: Climate, temperature, and level of physical activity while wearing each bra

If you only have a few bras in your weekly rotation, you should wash them every other week. If there are over three bras in your weekly rotation and you’re only wearing a certain bra once a week, you should be fine washing it once a month.

The season and climate should also impact how often you wash your bras. In the summer, you might sweat in your bra more. This means you’ll want to wash your bras more often during that time of year.

Tip: I recommend that you give your bras 24 hours of breathing room between wears to rest and return to their regular shape.

Hand Washing vs. Machine Washing

Which bras can you machine wash? Which bras must be hand washed? These are frequently asked questions in the lingerie realm.

Much like with clothing, the care our bras need is often determined by their quality. The higher quality and finer the fabrics and materials, the more delicate care they’ll need. The better you treat your lingerie, the longer it’s likely to last.

Hand washing is always the best choice for higher quality bras and with underwire bras. Although this may sound like a hassle, underwires can warp when they’re machine washed. This can cause underwires to poke through or break over time. That said, you can safely machine wash some of your daily wear bras if you take the right precautions.

How to Hand Wash Your Bras

Hand washing a bra isn’t as time consuming as it may sound. It can take as little as 10-15 minutes (and much of that time is spent soaking). Setting this time aside every week or so will substantially extend the lifetime of your favorite bras.

Here’s how to hand wash your bras properly:

1 – If there are any stains, dab them lightly using mild soap and cold or lukewarm water. Gently rub the stains with the soapy mixture.

2 – Fill up a sink or tub with cold or lukewarm water. Place your bra in the water and allow it to soak for a few minutes.

3 – Gently work the suds into the fabric.

4 – Rinse.

5 – Gently roll your bra in a towel to remove excess moisture.

6 – Line dry or lay out to dry (NEVER machine dry your bras).

How to Machine Wash Your Bras

If you do opt for machine washing your bra, there are some precautions you can take.

1 – Always hook your bra closure together first to prevent it from getting tangled with other garments in the wash.

2 – Wash on a delicate, gentle cycle in cold or lukewarm water.

3 – Remove your bra from the washer and the lingerie bag.

4 – Line dry or lay out to dry (NEVER machine dry your bras).

Tip: If you’re going to use the washing machine, I recommend that you put your bra in a lingerie bag to keep it separated from other garments in the wash. You can find the Fashion Forms Medium Lingerie Bag and Fashion Forms Large Lingerie Bag at HerRoom.

What is the Average Lifespan of a Bra?

Many of us have unrealistic expectations about how long a bra should last, and how much stress a bra should be expected to endure. Wearing a bra to death isn’t the best way to get your money’s worth. The better strategy is to care for your bras properly and give them time between wears.

If you have a solid set of bras in your weekly rotation (four bras at least), you’ll still want to replace your bra every 9-18 months or so depending on wear, quality, style and cup size. Smaller cup sizes mean bras don’t have to do as much heavy lifting as bras for women with larger cup sizes. If you’re a larger cup size, you’ll want to replace your bras more often than if you’re a smaller cup size.

Want more tips on how to properly care for your lingerie? Visit the Lingerie Care page in The Fitting Room™.

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