How to Wash Your Bras
(and How Often)

After spending all that time searching for the perfect bra, it’s arguably just as important to take care of a bra as it is to buy the right one. The key to caring for intimates comes to down to this: learning how to wash your bras and how often you should be washing them. Our rule of thumb is to wash every three wears with an alcohol-free detergent for the gentlest laundering. When your undergarments are in the wash and out of circulation, it’s important to have a wardrobe of bras to turn to. Likewise, you’ll likely need to replace intimates after a year’s worth of wear as, regardless of style, the fabric will begin to lose its support.

How Often to Wash Bras

Depending on how frequently you wear each one of your bras—let’s be real, we know you have a favorite—you should try to launder it every two to four wears using a gentle lingerie wash. Harsher cleansers, including regular laundry detergents, can wear down a bra’s elasticity over time.

If you happen to perspire a lot, you may want to wash your bras more frequently (keep in mind they’ll break down faster). It’s the same logic that applies to clothing: You’re not going to wear the same workout gear more than once before tossing it in the washing machine, right? Same goes for your bras, whether you’re working out or hanging out on a hot day.

How to Wash Bras by Hand (Our Bra Fit Experts' Recommendation)

Washing bras by hand is best, as it’ll help mitigate any potential damage a machine could cause to underwires or elasticity.

Follow these simple steps:

  1. Fill the sink or bathtub with lukewarm water and an alcohol-free laundry detergent made for delicates, such as Forever New Delicate Fabric Wash, a powdered, concentrated wash that leaves no soapy residue.
  2. Let your bras soak for about an hour and, before removing, gently rub the fabric together to help lift dirt and oils from the fabric.
  3. Rinse with cool water until the water runs clear.
  4. Lay each bra flat on a towel, then put a second towel on top. Press the towels together to gently sop up excess moisture without damaging the delicates.
  5. Hang dry.

How to Machine-Wash Bras

While hand-washing is the safest way to clean your delicates, machine washing bras is an entirely viable option for the time-pressed.

  1. Hook each bra together in back so it doesn't snag other garments or lose its shape.
  2. Place bras of a similar color in a lingerie bag, like our Small or Large one, depending on how many you’re grouping together. Alternatively, you can use a Small or Large Bra Saver, designed to keep bras’ cup shapes in tact and withstand the power of a machine wash.
  3. Use an alcohol-free detergent meant for delicates, and choose the delicate cycle with cool water.
  4. Hang dry.

Whichever method you go with, avoid wringing out moisture after washing, and never put bras in the dryer, as the machine’s heat can easily break down the components, shortening their lifespans.

Bare Necessities: How to Wash Sports Bras: Panache Sports Bra Featured Sports Bra: Ultimate High Impact by Panache

How to Wash Sports Bras

Although you can get away with up to four wears of a regular bra before needing to wash it, a sports bra is a slightly different beast. Think about it: The bacteria, sweat and oil that build up during your run or Zumba class not only leave your sports bra smelling less than fresh, it can break down the fabric and stretch the band. That’s why it’s imperative to at least rinse it out each wear. Save time by wearing it into—then taking it off—in the shower for some serious multitasking.

Plan on running it through the washing machine? Follow the same steps as above, but adjust the water temperature—hot works best here—or use the sanitize cycle if your washing machine’s got it. As above, never put your sports bra in the dryer. Instead, drape it to dry over a chair or drying rack to let it air out slowly and safely. Don’t hang sports bras by the straps to dry, or you risk stretching them out.

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How to Wash T-Shirt Bras

T-shirt bras require a little extra love after being washed. Follow the same steps as above but when the cycle’s complete or you’ve rinsed out the detergent, be sure to reshape the molded cups with your hands before drying to ensure the shape stays as it should.

Bare Necessities: How to Wash Bralettes: Spanx Bralette Featured Sports Bra: Lace Collection by SPANX

How to Wash Bralettes

Bralettes should be washed the same way as the rest of your fancy delicates, including thongs and strapless bras. As with all of your best undergarments, hand-washing is preferable to using the washing machine. Using lukewarm water and a made-for-delicates detergent, let your bralettes soak for up to an hour, then rinse and lay flat to dry.

Bottom line: Washing your bras—and how often you wash your bras—is an important part of taking care of your lingerie. Doing it the right way will extend the life of your bras and keep them in optimal shape. If you’re not sure where to start, pick up the Bare Necessities Lingerie Care Kit, which comes with a mesh lingerie bag and delicates-friendly detergent that promise to take great care of your undergarments for you.


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