How Often Should You Wash Your Bra? Experts Weigh In
While bras may not be a visible part of your outfit, they play a crucial role in smoothing out your look and providing support to your skin and tissue, which can help prevent back problems. Despite their importance, many of us throw them onto a chair without giving much thought to how often we should be washing them.
Given the significance of bras, we decided to consult the experts to determine the recommended washing frequency, and their responses were eye-opening.
Why Even Wash Bras?
Understanding the reasons behind washing bras regularly is essential, regardless of whether they appear visibly dirty or not. Dr. Leah Ansell, a board-certified dermatologist in New York, explains that wearing a dirty bra can lead to bacteria rubbing on your skin and potentially causing infections, such as yeast infections. Yeast thrives in dark and moist areas, making the region beneath the breasts vulnerable. Inadequate washing can also result in debris build-up, including dead skin, dirt, and sweat.
Laura Burke, an intimate apparel stylist and certified bra fit expert at Fit by Burke in New York, adds that the natural body heat can alter the shape of a bra. Washing bras helps them regain their original shape, allowing them to provide optimal support.
Furthermore, Burke expresses concern about exposed metal, particularly in underwire bras. The fabric covering the metal can wear out over time, leading to metal exposure and potential allergic reactions or contact dermatitis.
How Often Should You Clean Your Bras?
According to Burke, regular bras can be worn three to four times before washing, whereas sports bras should be washed after every use. Lingerie designer Nichole de Carle agrees, emphasizing the need for more frequent washing of sports bras when engaging in active pursuits. Ansell recommends treating each type of bra differently, advising more frequent washing for sports bras due to tightness and sweat accumulation. For everyday lingerie, Ansell suggests washing them about once a week or more often if you engage in activities that cause sweating or dirt accumulation.
What’s The Best Way To Wash Bras?
Not only is the frequency of washing important, but also the method used. Burke suggests washing bras on a delicate or hand-wash cycle, either separately or in a lingerie bag. If using a washing machine, she recommends hooking all bras to prevent snags and considering a “bra-only load.” De Carle, a proponent of hand-washing, advises using a lower temperature if machine-washing, and placing the bra in a laundry bag for protection. She also highlights the environmental impact of machine use and suggests soaking bras to save water. Air-drying bras is universally recommended to preserve their shape and elasticity.
When Should You Replace Your Bra?
Burke suggests donating a bra after its first year of use, although most women keep them much longer. She advises monitoring the band for signs of wear, such as riding up or the front no longer lying flat. When the bra no longer provides adequate support, it’s time to replace it. Ansell recommends immediately discarding a bra if any metal starts poking through or if there are persistent stains that don’t disappear. Additionally, a changing body may require a new bra to accommodate size fluctuations.
In terms of the lifespan of a bra, de Carle suggests it can last anywhere between six to nine months, or longer with proper care.
So, how many bras should the average woman have? Burke recommends owning a minimum of three everyday bras to rotate, along with a strapless bra, sports bras, lounge options, and special evening bras.
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