We’ve all peered into our dresser, wondering if we can get away with wearing our last clean T-shirt bra just one more day. Our experts offer the final word on all your burning bra-related laundry questions:
YOU SHOULDN’T WASH A BRA AFTER EACH WEAR.
Back away from the detergent, clean freaks. Washing your bra too often can do more harm than good. “Over-washing can damage the elasticity, which is essential for providing the proper support,” says Lexie Sachs, product analyst in the Textiles Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute.
Carolyn Forte, director of the GHI Cleaning Lab agrees: “Once a bra loses its shape, the fit is compromised.”
UNLESS YOU’RE REALLY SWEATY, WAIT THREE OR FOUR WEARS BEFORE WASHING.
“Every few wears should be sufficient, but it does depend on your activity level,” says Sachs. “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.”
So, that lacy bra you break out for dressy occasions? It can probably live in your drawer for awhile. But your sports bra after spin class? Wash it after every use.
DON’T WORRY TOO MUCH ABOUT YOUR “ROTATION.”
Good news for those of us who just can’t keep track of one more thing: We give you full permission to forget which bra you wore yesterday.
“You should have several bras to rotate through to avoid stressing elastic over time, but wearing the same bra two days in a row isn’t an issue,” says Sachs. “Taking it off at night should allow plenty of time for it to recover its shape and elasticity. If it can’t do that in eight to twelve hours, waiting an extra day won’t make a big difference.”
ALWAYS HEED THE CARE TAG.
In general, bras like a gentler bath to keep them in good shape, but check the labels for the best instructions.
“If you decide to wash a bra in the machine instead of the sink, select the most delicate cycle your washer offers, ” says Forte. “And I’d recommend a special mesh bra bag. They cushion the bra and keep it from twisting and tangling.”
“Mesh bags also help prevent bra hooks from snagging other garments,” Sachs adds. “But also hook the bra before you throw it in the wash, and consider a mild detergent, like Woolite, since it’ll be more gentle on the fabric.”
AVOID THE DRYER.
“I suggest laying bras flat to dry,” says Sachs. “The heat and agitation of a dryer can damage the bra’s elasticity and shape, and hanging it can cause stretching.”
Before you lay your bra out, make sure the cups aren’t misshapen or folded, and use a towel to blot up excess water (don’t wring or twist the bra). Sachs say that this method is even a good idea for sports bras. Even though they seem sturdier, they require careful tending to keep them as supportive as possible.
DON’T CANCEL OUT YOUR GOOD INTENTIONS WITH BAD STORAGE.
“Line them up in a drawer, like they’d do in the store,” says Forte. Crumples, creases, and haphazard piles can cause the bras to become misshapen.