A bra is, quite literally, a foundational garment for women. Because your bras are individually worn more often than any other item of clothing in your closet, special care should be taken to ensure they last and maintain good form.
Women want their bras to remain in good condition while feeling like they are fresh from the store. Since a good bra can be rather expensive, it is in your best interest to do your best to maintain it for as long as you can. Delicates are called delicates for a reason, and bras are made with materials including elastic, lace, and other sensitive materials which are delicate and require special care. In addition, bras have plastic clips or metal hooks that need to be considered so that they don’t melt, warp, or wear out too soon.
In general, a bra may last an average of no longer than two years. With proper care and handling, the bra will last on the longer side of that average and will age gracefully, rather than becoming worn out too quickly if handled under harsher conditions.
Following these 9 tips for washing your bras will help to ensure the best possible care of your bra.
1. Wash Your Bras Often
Depending on a woman’s personal hygiene and lifestyle, a standard bra may be worn a couple of times before it needs to be washed. Some women who sweat more may wish to wash their bras more often, but for everyday wear, washing after every wear is not necessary.
Sports bras may be washed more often. However, if you’ve just gone out for a stroll and did not perspire much, you can rinse a sports bra out in cool water to rid the garment of perspiration, which can damage the material. Cool water helps a bra maintain its elasticity.
2. Hand Wash Bras, If Possible
Ideally you should hand wash your bras rather than toss them into the washing machine with other garments. Hand washing in cool water with a gentle soap is the ideal situation. Harsh detergents will cause fibers in the bra material to deteriorate. This is particularly important for higher-end bras with delicate fabrics like silk, as opposed to the average T-shirt bra.
Everyday bras do not get as dirty as one would think. To wash them, let the pieces soak for a few minutes in cool water, then gently squeeze the suds through the fabric. Next, rinse the bras and roll in a towel to absorb excess moisture before hanging them to dry.
When traveling, hand washing may be the only option. You may even wish to wash your bra while taking a shower, as long as the water you use isn’t too hot. Once washed, you can hang your bra on the shower curtain to dry overnight.
When cleaning a bra that has yellow perspiration stains, rub the stained area with mild soap and warm water, then let soak for 30 minutes before washing the bra.
3. Use the Gentle Cycle
If hand washing isn’t your plan, it is fine to machine wash your bras, as long as you select the right settings on your machine. It is very important to wash bras and other lingerie on the gentle cycle in cool water: never use hot water. Delicates do not always fare well with a lot of movement and agitation.
It’s best to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper care that is listed on the label in regard to the temperature of the water used in the washing machine.
4. Hook the Clasps Before Washing
Many women have unknowingly set themselves up to spend time detangling a bunch of bras or sewing holes in other articles of clothing because the clasps were not secured before the bra was washed.
Always fasten the clasps on a bra before washing. By doing so, you will save your other clothing, save yourself time from detangling bras, and preserve the form of the bra as well.
Also, it’s a good idea to consider tightening the shoulder straps so that there is less to tangle around another bra or piece of clothing in the same load.
5. Use a Lingerie Laundry Bag
To keep your bras separate from the other articles of clothing in the wash, place them in a laundry bag designed especially for lingerie. This should minimize the stress put on the bra and undergarments while in the wash. These bags are typically made of a soft mesh net material. When purchasing a mesh bag, look for the smallest mesh possible, to ensure the clips and clasps cannot poke through.
Instead of a laundry bag, you could also use a product like the BraBall, which is a plastic sphere that holds up to three bras and can be tossed in the washer.
6. Avoid Using Bleach
Using harsh ingredients will harm a bra’s elasticity and fabric, so it is best to avoid using bleach. If bleach is used the end result is that the bra won’t last as long as it could. This is important to note for both hand washing and machine washing. If you do hand wash and use a commercial detergent, be sure to look at the components, as some do contain bleach.
7. Keeps Whites and Colors Separate
This tried and true rule for all laundry is especially important for bras and lingerie. Due to the fact that bras and other lingerie often contain synthetic fibers, there is a greater propensity to pick up dyes from other garments in the wash. Keep it simple. Wash whites with whites. Wash colors with like colors.
8. Keep Loads Light
Again, another general laundry rule particularly pertains to the washing of undergarments. Be sure not to overstuff the washing machine. Heavy items, such as towels, sheets, and denim, could do damage to undergarments, especially underwire bras.
Not only should you keep loads light, but keep like loads together. Particularly with items that contain Lycra, wash these articles together as the Lycra will degrade if not cared for properly.
9. Hang to Dry
While there is some flexibility in the rules for washing either by hand or in a washing machine, bra care experts insist that hanging bras to dry is the best method for drying undergarments. The extreme heat of a mechanical dryer can do major damage to the fabric and elasticity of delicate undergarments. Bras made from cotton may even shrink a little, increasing the chance that an underwire could poke through the material.
Either hang the bra up by the strap or lay it to dry on a towel with the cups facing up. Also, leave the back clasped and ensure that the bras are properly reshaped before setting them out to dry.