It’s time to fess up ladies: When was the last time you washed your bra? And no, we are not talking about your sports bra, but your regular bra. The one that you take off, sniff and throw back into the drawer to wear again the next day. While many women may not want to admit the dirty truth, the reality is that we often have different rules when it comes to washing our bras and panties.
So while you most certainly should follow a one-wear-wash policy for your panties, your bra probably does not get the same amount of TLC. So, why should “wash bra” be on your laundry to-do list? And how often should you wash it, anyway?
When is the ideal time to wash bra each week?
It’s not necessary that you wash your bra every day.
But if you do not wash it at least every other day, chances are you are making it easy for oil, dirt, sweat and resulting bacteria to accumulate inside.
Not to forget, the dirty combination of unwashed bra and boob sweat can lead to rashes and irritation. Add to the mix a change of seasons and your unwashed bra can be a hotbed of germs and infections.
But don’t feel grossed out. To have oil, dirt and even bacteria on the body is quite normal. However, if you leave them there, you are creating problems for your own body.
“For instance, if you’re outside on a humid day and end up sweating a lot, you’ll want to wash your bra sooner. On the other hand, if you throw a bra on for a couple hours, that might not count as a ‘wear.’ Washing gets rid of the oils and germs that accumulate, so the more oil you’re producing, the more frequently you’ll need to launder your bra,” she adds.
Think about its type before you decide to wash bra frequently
Washing a bra not only depends on its use, but also its type.
For instance, an underwire bra or a sports bra that pushes up closely against your skin can accumulate more oil and dirt than the soft cup bras. So it may need more washes than the latter.
Ideally, each time your sweat it out at the gym, you should wash your sports bra. But for the fancier bras, you can re-wear them about three or four times, and then wash them on the delicate cycle.
“Over-washing can damage the elasticity, which is essential for providing the proper support,” adds Sachs.
Now that the question of “how many times to wash bra” is out of the way. Let’s move on to the more important question: how do you wash your bras?
How do you properly wash bra at home?
In order to wash bras properly, you’ll need two things:
- A clean mesh bag
- Mild detergent
1. Prepare to wash bra
You can just causally throw your bra in the washing machine. But what happens when you have other clothes in the washing machine such as your tees and blouses or even towels? The hooks on your bras can tug and snag onto other clothes and cause them to tear while being washed.
So the best way to avoid this from happening is by hooking your bra; as you would when you wear it. Then place it in a clean mesh bag and throw it in the wash.
2. Begin to wash bra
You can select the “delicate” option on your washing machine and add a mild detergent.
Your bras do not need aggressive cleaning, both due to their size and the amount of dirt and oil than can collect onto them. However, if your bra label has specific instructions on cleaning, follow them to a tee. In addition to cleaning your bra properly, it will also increase its life.
Alternatively, if you do not want to wash them in the machine, you can try hand-washing them. Use a milk-based cleaning soap and wash them gently, especially the soft cup bras and the ones that are intricately designed.
3. Prepare to dry your bra
Once your bra is washed, it’s time to dry it. Try to avoid a machine to do this job for you because the tugging and stretching can destroy your bra.
Instead, take it out of the washer and lay it flat over a towel or a clean surface. Alternatively, you can dry it faster by hanging it out in the sunlight and avoid drying clothes inside. Either way, do not wring the bra because that can also make it lose its elasticity and firmness.
Make sure that the cups are not misshaped when you dry them. When your bra is completely dry, stack them together with other bras so the cups remain in their original shape.
Incidentally, knowing what to do with your delicates is not enough to keep them clean and in proper condition. It’s also important to know what you shouldn’t do.
4 things you shouldn’t do while washing your bra
Here are a few things you must bear in mind while washing your delicates, so you do not end up with ugly, out-of-shape, or filthy bras.
1. Wash bra after each use: what overwashing can do
As stated earlier, you don’t have to wash your bra after each wear; not unless it’s a sports bra. Over-washing your bra can damage it.
For instance, the cups can lose their original shape. Or you may notice that the elasticity is gone and the cloth has a lot of wear and tear to it.
Instead, opt for washing bra only three to four times a week. However, you can increase the frequency based on the climate and your activity level.
2. Misunderstanding “wear”
If you travel a lot and have been out on a hot day, you’ll want to wash your bra. And that’s perfectly fine. But, if you’ve only thrown it on for a couple of hours then that might not count as “wear.”
So the lacy bra can wait a while longer, but you may need to follow a one-wash-per-wear for your sports bra.
3. Not making room for rotation
As a rule, you must keep clean bras on standby so you can rotate and wear them while the dirty ones go out for a wash. Have a minimum of five bras for the five days of the week.
Even though you can wear the same bra for two days (if the weather and your activity levels permit), you still need more than three. This will help prevent unnecessary worry about rotation and washing of bras. It will also help protect your bras from losing their elasticity and their shape quickly.
4. Storing carelessly
You don’t want to just throw in your bras in a drawer and then get upset about why they lost their shape so quickly. You want to be careful about the way you store them as well.
Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab advises, “Line them up in a drawer, like they do in the store. If you fold them with one cup inside of the other, you risk messing up the shape and shifting the padding.”
If you have taken all these necessary precautions, chances are your bra will have a long shelf-life, maybe even two to three years. After that you might want to consider throwing them out.
3 reasons you might have to throw out your bra
You and your bra may be best buds. You know how to wash bra and your other delicates properly and might be doing a fabulous job at keeping them looking fresh and clean.
But as important as it is to keep the bra in good condition, it is also crucial to know when to throw it out. Here’s what you need to look out for.
1. It no longer looks the same
Just like everything else in your cupboard, your bra will also begin to fade and lose its bloom. The best way to identify this is to check the small cloth insert that lists the size and style of the bra. If you cannot read a thing, it’s time to consider buying a new one.
Also make sure to check the straps, cups and the fabric. Any wear and tear on them is also an indication that you should replace them.
2. You haven’t worn it in a long time
You’ve stuffed this one bra at the back of the drawer and almost never reach for it. If it’s fancy and strapless, you might have stored it to wear later, but never really got around to doing so.
If so, chances are this bra doesn’t fit you anymore and you know that. That’s why you have kept it around to check if it wears the same. But there is no shame in trying it one last time. If it fits you well, go for it. If not, it’s time say ‘goodbye.’
3. Your body has changed and it doesn’t support you anymore
Our bodies are unique. They change a lot, almost everyday one can say. So do our breasts. When you gain a few pounds, have a baby or stop breastfeeding, this reflects in your bra size as well.
The straps might be too loose or the fabric is no longer your preference. Likewise, the bra may not provide you with the support it did a couple of years back. Remember that your bra shouldn’t dig into your flesh or make you squirm every time you you try to hook it. If that happens, it’s time for a change.
If you have some fresh bras that you feel are too good to throw out, you can recycle them (there are companies willing to take your almost new bras) or donate them.
Is “wash bra” on your to-do list already?!