How Often Should You Wash Your Bra

ISABELLA TORCHIA / STYLE WELLNESS

Laundry has got to be one of the most hated chores of all. 

And it’s not exactly environmentally friendly either. Last year, we all became dramatically more aware of how laundering releases microplastics into our waters. One paper showed that microfibers are responsible for 85% of shoreline pollution across the globe.

For some (hello, me!) this was just the reason needed to relax a little bit on how often we wash certain garments. But taking it easy on washing jackets and sweaters is one thing. What about bras? How about your Knix bras?

How often should you wash your bras? Is there a rule? (Of course there’s a rule!) Is there any wiggle room? (You betcha!)

The Perfect Practice: Every Single Wear

So, the hardcore rule is that it’s best to wash your bra after every wear. Yep: Every. Single. Wear.

If this is something you already do, hat tip to you. But we have a feeling this rule is deliberately overzealous to frighten those of us who maybe wash our bra once every two weeks.

What’s the rationale for this high frequency? Well, it’s really two-fold:

  • Hygiene: Bras are worn flush to the skin, which gives them every opportunity to absorb oil, sweat and cosmetic residue. If left too long, bras can become a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause skin irritations.
  • Bra Longevity: Bras are (often) delicate garments with complex construction. Their exposure to sweat and oil can damage their delicate fabrics and break down the elastic. Plus, let’s face it, bras are expensive. So washing them regularly is thought to be one way to prolong their lifespan.

Of course, we’ll get into the “right” and “wrong” ways to wash a bra. Washing is a bit of a double-edged sword: Do it right and you can preserve your bra. Do it wrong and you can expedite its demise.

The Realistic Guideline: Every 2-3 Wears

It feels much more realistic to recommend that you wash your bra every two to three wears.

If you have a few bras in rotation, this will be more manageable and sync up better with your laundry routine. Get in the habit of doing this and observing careful laundry practices and you can rest assured that your bra, and your body, is cared for.

The Common Sense Caveats

Every rule has exceptions, right? These are mostly common sense but let’s spell them out for those of us who love explicit guidelines:

  • Hotter day? Change more. If you’re sweating more than usual, you might not want to stretch out to 3 wears.
  • A “wear” is a full day. If you wear a bra for a few hours only (say for an evening dinner), you don’t have to count this as a “full wear”.
  • Sports bras are different. Hot yoga, running, HIIT? These activities are a whole different ball game. Wash your sweaty sports bra every day. Yep, that means if you work out every day, you need a few sports bras in rotation.

How to Wash Your Bra

Part of any advice about how often to wash a garment is how to wash that garment. The purpose of washing is to keep a garment clean and to preserve it. But, obviously, washing can itself be a destructive process depending on how you do it.

When it comes to bras, there are purists who demand all bras be handwashed. And then there are the ‘life’s too short’ thinkers who believe you can just toss it in the machine. Let’s explore washing your bras:

Handwashing

Handwashing is the gentlest way to wash something. But you don’t need to hand wash every bra. It really depends on how it’s made and what it’s made of. Some bras (like Knix bras) are designed to be machine washed but others absolutely must be handwashed.

We expect you have a mix of bra styles in your lingerie drawer. For those delicate silk / lace undergarments, we absolutely recommend hand washing. But for most everyday or performance underwear, the machine will do (though you can of course handwash if you prefer).

Machine Washing

So, it’s okay to wash certain bras in a washing machine, including your favourite Knix bras. But that doesn’t mean that machines can’t still damage bras.

There are some small tips to help your bra better withstand the tug-of-war that machine washing can become:

  • Fasten bras before you wash: Those hooks can grab onto anything else in the machine and then it can really mean your bra goes for an intense joyride. Keeping them fastened helps your bra not get tugged too much.
  • Use a mesh bag: Mesh bags are great for smaller or delicate items in the machine. They keep them from getting entangled and stretched around larger garments or linens. You can also tuck your bras inside a pillow case if you don’t have a mesh bag.

Let Your Bra Air Dry

It’s not just washing that can be hard on clothing, the dryer can be destructive too. The same pulling and stretching can happen in dryers. But more than that, the extreme heat of dryers can break down fabrics (especially elastic).

No matter how you washed your bra, our recommendation is to air dry it, preferably laying flat. This means don’t hang it by one of the straps, which can cause additional stretching, especially if the bra is very wet.

How to Store Your Bras

After all that careful laundering, you’re not just going to shove your bras in a jam-packed drawer, are you?

Bras love space and the best way to store your bras is laying them flat and front-facing in a drawer. Avoid folding them or bending molded cups. You can nest bras into each other to help preserve their shape. 

You can also go full-on Marie Kondo and buy drawer dividers so everything is spaced out and Instragam-worthy!