Bare Necessities Large Bra and Swimsuit Saver

How Often to Wash Bras? A Personal Guide

  |   By Elisabeth Dale

When should you wash bras? Some say after every wear or every other wear. Other lingerie experts claim we should wash them after three or four wears. So who's right?

They all are.  Much like other items in our wardrobe---jeans, t-shirts, or even silk blouses---it depends on our preferences. Yeah, it's good to know how to wash any of these pieces (whether inside out, in cold water, gentle cycle, or dry clean). But it's a subjective call, whether or not to throw something in the hamper or wear it one last time before washing.

When it comes to our bras and other lingerie, there are way too many variables to rely on one simple rule. Yes, dirt and sweat break down the fabrics used in bras, but we don't all perspire the same. Unless you are breastfeeding, there aren't any messy bodily fluids involved, either.

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Here's my five-point guide on when---and how often---to wash bras. These tips let you create an individual plan on how to care for your delicate underthings. 

1. Account for Differences. 

Not all bras see the same action. I wash my sports bra after every workout, especially those sweaty spin classes. But my strapless bra doesn't get out of the drawer but a few times a year. On the other hand, everyday t-shirt bras make a regular rotation in my wardrobe. I've got two or three to wash on a weekly basis.

How Often to Wash Bras? A Personal Guide

Natori Yogi Convertible Sports Bra
Available in Bands 32-40, Cups B-G
via Nordstrom
How Often to Wash Bras? A Personal Guide
Commando Full Circle Curves Bra
Available in Sizes S-L
via Nordstrom
Plunge Underwire Molded Bra
Parfait Plunge Underwire Molded Bra
Available in Bands 30-38, Cups D-G
via Nordstrom

2. Determine Your Laundering Method and Routine. 

Should you hand or machine wash? It's up to you. Yes, going the most gentle route will extend the life of your foundations. And with today's "no-rinse" formulas, it's surprisingly easy and efficient (see below for brands). But that doesn't work for everyone or all bras. If you do put them in the wash, make sure to hook up bands and place them in a mesh laundry bag or round container. That way you won't snag any materials on loose hardware or find them wrapped up around the agitator. Always launder on delicate cycle, in cool water, using a super mild detergent. What's more important is to create wash day habits that work for your lifestyle and lingerie wardrobe.

wash bras

Large Lingerie Wash Bag
Also available in smaller size
via Bare Necessities
wash bras
Large Bra and Swimsuit Saver
Also available in smaller size
via Bare Necessities

3. Know Your Soaps. 

Just because the bottle says, "delicate" or "gentle" doesn't mean that it's good for your lingerie or the environment. Read about ingredients or check out this helpful list from Environmental Working Group. Many soaps work both in a washing machine or for laundering by hand.

when to wash bras

Forever New Fabric Care Wash
32 oz. Size, $15
via Bare Necessities

wash bras


Eucalan No Rinse Delicate Wash
Available in Scented and Non-Scented Formulas
16.9 oz. Size, $13
via Eucalan


Soak Rinse Free Lingerie Wash
Available in Scented and Non-Scented Formulas
12 oz. Size, $16
via Soak

4. Hang to Dry, or Suffer the Consequences.

Make sure to air dry your delicates, whatever laundry method you choose. The reason? Dryer heat and tumbling will destroy delicate fabric, elastic, and lace---plus ruins the casings that hold underwires. It's a death sentence. Don't. Do. It. (Please.)

5. It's Your Call. 

It's okay for you to determine the right time to wash bras. If your thing is to wash them every night, because you like the feeling of putting on a super clean bra every morning, go for it! If you use the "sniff test" to make your laundry decisions, that's okay too. Whether you choose every day or every two weeks, keep in mind that washing bras too often or not often enough results in the same thing: accelerated deterioration of materials. You won't be able to avoid having to replace your bras, once they're worn out.

What's your lingerie laundry routine? How often do you wash bras? Do you hand or machine launder them?

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