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How To Wash Sports Bras

What on earth would we do without sports bras? With the right set of features and a thoughtful construction, they can do everything from keeping us cool and dry during a spin class to keeping any bounce under control during a run. Once you do find the right sports bra, it goes without saying that you want to ensure the longevity of it so you can wear it for as many sweat sessions as possible. The key to making your sports bras last, of course, is caring for them properly.

Washing your sports bras is a very different ordeal than it is with other garments (and even other types of bras), as they’re made of specific moisture-wicking materials that demand special considerations.

Here are some top tips for washing your bras to keep them in optimal condition: 

Be diligent

How often you wash your sports bras will depend somewhat on the kind of physical activity you’re doing in them. When you’re engaging in aerobics or kickboxing, for example, you’re no doubt sweating a lot more than when you’re taking a Pilates class. You’ll likely want to wash your bras every wear if you’re taking high-intensity classes, whereas you can get away with every three wears if you’re taking low-intensity classes.

Take it off, stat

The sooner you take that sports bra off after your workout, the better. That’s because bacteria and sweat can start to break down elastic in the fabric and even cause the band to stretch out. Better yet, remove the bra and rinse it out as soon as you get home. You can even multitask by giving it a rinse while you’re in your post-workout shower.

Hand wash whenever possible

Always check the care tag on your sports bra for any specific instructions, but note that hand washing is your best bet with sports bras since it’s the gentlest method. It’s especially crucial to wash them by hand if they contain underwire or any padding. You can hand wash your bras in a basin, sink or even bathtub. There are specially formulated sport detergents that can not only prevent damage to tech fabrics but also be more effective at getting any funk out of the fibers. Just don’t use bleach or fabric softener.

How to hand wash your sports bras

Fill your basin, sink or tub with cool water, add a decent amount of detergent depending on how many bras you’re washing, and let them soak for 20 minutes to an hour. You’ll likely need to rinse them more than once to make sure the water runs clear (leaving traces of detergent can risk mildew forming).

Related: Is It Bad To Sleep In A Sports Bra?

Be mindful with machines

If you must wash your bras in a machine, be sure to fasten any hook-and-eye closures if they have them to avoid snags, and put them in a mesh lingerie wash bag to prevent them from getting misshapen or tangled up with other items. Always opt for the delicate cycle, and cool or cold water.

Don’t use the dryer

A dryer machine can cause rapid wear and tear on technical fabrics, so avoid using it at all costs when it comes to your sports bras (and actually, any bras, for that matter). Lay your bras flat to dry, drape them over a drying rack or hang them up by the center gore — never hang them by the straps, as that could stretch them out over time.


Now that you’re a pro at washing your sports bras properly, one final tip: It’s important to know when it’s time to part with them. This depends, of course, on how often you’re wearing them. That’s why if you’re super active (four to seven days a week), you’ll definitely want a few different sports bras in your collection so you can rotate them, thus supporting their longevity. Once you notice the sports bra’s fabric is fraying, the band isn’t snug enough, straps are falling down or it’s simply no longer offering adequate support, you’ll know it’s time to replace it.

Related: How To Choose The Right Sports Bra

Featured image:
Parfait Active Sports Bra P5541 in Black

Do you hand wash or machine wash your sports bras?

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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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