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how to wash bras

When it comes to washing your bedding, towels, and T-shirts, you’re pretty much a pro: You toss the items in your machine, pour in some laundry detergent and press a button. Sadly, things aren’t so simple when it comes to your bras. As they’re made with delicate fabrics and contain unique construction features, such as padding, underwire, hook closures, and straps, they demand special considerations. Washing your bras properly ensures that they stay supportive and in overall better condition for longer, thus protecting your previous investments.

So, does one go about washing them by hand? And can they ever be washed in a machine?

In this guide, we’ve answered a slew of common questions and outlined how to wash bras without ruining them.

How often should bras be washed?

Everything from perspiration to perfume and body lotion can be absorbed by your bras, so it’s important to wash them often enough to prevent those substances from wearing down the fabric and elasticity.

How frequently you wash your bra depends on the frequency with which you’re wearing them.

Your go-to T-shirt bra may need be washed more often than a special occasion plunge bra, for example. We always suggest rotating your bras throughout the week — this will help you cut down on having to wash the same two or three bras constantly.

As a general rule, we suggest washing your everyday bras after two to four wears and your sports bras after one to two wears.

For washing, you have two options to choose from: hand washing and machine washing. While we always suggest hand washing instead of machine washing (especially for delicate materials like silk, Chantilly lace, and chiffon), always check the care label on your bras first.

Here’s Why You Should Hand Wash Your Bras

To be on the safe side, hand-washing is recommended whenever possible to prolong the lifespan of your lingerie — a machine can simply be too rough on lace, satin, mesh and other lingerie fabrics.

Hand washing is especially crucial for padded bras and push-up bras. These styles have lined cups that can become stretched out, bent, and misshapen after being tossed around in a washing machine.

Related: 6 Laundry Tips That Will Make Your Bras Last Longer

How To Hand Wash Bras

1.  Start by filling a basin or clean sink with lukewarm to cool water. Ideally, you should use a detergent that’s specially formulated for lingerie, as commercial detergents tend to be too harsh.

2.  Add just a teaspoon or two of detergent to the water (more than that will make far more work for you in the rinsing process).

3.  If your push-up bra has inserts, be sure to remove them before washing.

4.  Hook your bras.

5.  Add your lingerie to the water and swish it around. Allow the garments to soak for at least 15 minutes, but up to one hour. If there are any stubborn stains, spot treat with some detergent and rub the fabric gently.

6.  Drain the basin and rinse the bras in cool water until it runs clear. Never wring or twist the bras. Doing so can crush and bend the cups.

7.  Lay the garments flat to dry, or hang them on a hanger or drying rack by the center gore — never hang them by the straps, as this could stretch them out.

How To Wash Your Bras In The Washing Machine

1.  First, make sure to hook the closures on the back of your bras to keep them from causing any snags.

2.  Place similarly colored bras in a lingerie bag, which will protect them and prevent them from getting tangled. Make sure your bras and underwear are in separate mesh lingerie bags.

3.  Always choose a ‘delicates’ cycle (or whatever the most gentle cycle is) on your machine — a slower-speed wash and spin cycle will be the closest to mimicking hand washing, causing less stress on your undergarments. Cold or cool water is best, as heat wreaks havoc on elastic.

4.  Even if your bras are in a protective bag, you should still wash them separately from other heavier items. We suggest washing your jeans and shirts in a separate load from your lingerie.

5.  After removing your bras from the washing machine, reshape them with your hands and hang them or lay them flat to dry. Don’t squeeze or wring them — instead, you can gently press them between two towels to eliminate any excess water.

Proper Care Can Make Your Bras Last Longer

If you’re strategic about how you wash your bras, you’ll get far more wear out of them. In sum, wash your bras every few wears, choose your method of washing wisely, and when in doubt, always hand wash — the effort is well-worth it when it means your favorite underthings continue looking as fabulous as ever.

Related: How Long Should Bras Last?

We Highly Recommend

Whether you’re shopping for new everyday bras or lingerie for a special occasion, it’s always a good idea to seek out a second opinion. We know how hard it is to find bras that fit well and feel good, especially when you’re doing it on your own. If you’ve ever felt unsure about your bra size or you just don’t know where to go to find good bras, it’s time to let a bra fitter help.

Many specialty lingerie boutiques offer bra fittings. Their expert bra fitters will take the pain and frustration out of bra shopping and do all the work for you. Even better, their product knowledge can save you time and money. Plus, they know where all of the best bras are hiding.

If you’ve struggled with finding bras in the right size, it’s time to make a change. Visit our specialty store locator to find a store near you and schedule an appointment.

Happy bra shopping!

Featured image lingerie:
Parfait Marianne Unlined Wire Bra P5152 in Cobalt Blue | Parfait Enora Minimizer Bra P5272 in Whisper Blue
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Published by

Rebecca Strong

Rebecca is a Boston-based freelance writer who focuses on style, fitness, food, and travel. She has contributed to such publications as HuffPost, Elite Daily and U.S. News & World Report. When she's not writing, she can be found at home or in the studio working on the songs for her upcoming album. Her favorite bra is a black demi-cup style with all-over-lace — timeless and feminine.

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