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“How often should you wash your bra?”

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Megan Murray
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How often should you wash your bra? If you’ve had to ask yourself this, then you’re probably not washing it enough. Read on for advice on how often you should wash your bra depending on the season and how to both hand and machine wash delicate lingerie

There are certain household chores that should be straightforward but that actually, in reality, they’re just not as obvious as you’d think. Knowing when, and how, to wash your bra is one of them. 

It falls in the same category as how often we should be washing our bed sheets and if trainers can go in the wash, except this one feels even more pressing right now because sweaty summer months call for prompter washing.

So, seeing as our bra rotation will need to go up a notch, we’ve investigated what the official best practice is when it comes to wearing, washing and caring for bras. After all, bras can be pretty expensive and as they’re often made with fine, delicate materials, we want to make sure they look tip top for as long as possible.

Here, we’ve consulted Dr Lisa Ackerley aka The Hygiene Doctor to get her expert opinion – as well as industry advice – on how to wash your bra, when to do and why you should. She also recommends checking out Cleanipedia for general cleaning tips and tricks.

How often should I wash my bra?

How often should I wash my bra?

As a general rule of thumb, lingerie brand Boux Avenue recommend washing your bra every two to three wears but points out that this is just a guide as “we know how easy it is to stick to your favourite bra.”

Dr Ackerley says it depends on your circumstances, too. “In terms of washing your bra for hygiene reasons, then this depends on whether you have been wearing the bra whilst exercising or if you’ve been sweating in it a lot,” she says. 

“If you wear a dirty bra, you could end up with skin rashes and spots where the bra has rubbed and your own skin bacteria. Yeast could also proliferate and even cause skin infections if the skin becomes broken. So the answer is, follow your instinct  – if you have been sedentary all day, then every couple of wears will be fine, but if your bra gets sweaty or if you notice you are getting skin rashes around your bra area, then change it daily,” she adds.

Plus, bras can be quite expensive, so you’ll probably want to keep yours in good condition. Sweat can actually break down the elastic in your bra which will reduce its lifespan over time. 

Does it matter what season it is?

“It’s likely that you will sweat more in the summer, so you may need to change your bra more frequently then, unless you spend all your time in air conditioned rooms,” says Dr Ackerley.

“However, if you sweat more because you are in hot rooms in the winter, then you may need to change your bra more frequently too. as usual, this is very much a ‘depends’ answer,” she adds.

How often should I was my bra?

Can I put my bra in the washing machine?

Dr Ackerely says that again, this depends on your situation – namely the sort of bra you have and what the washing instructions are.

She says: “Some expensive bras have instructions expressly not to wash them in the machine. If you have a plain unwired bra, there should no issue at all with using the washing machine and following the label. If you have wiring, then one risk of washing in the machine is not that the bra will suffer but the washing machine might if the wiring comes loose and gets trapped inside the machine. It’s surprising how much of that type of debris is found in the drainage pump when you clean that out!”

The other thing Dr Ackerely says we should consider is that the hooks on the bra could snag more delicate items in the same wash. Her advice is to fasten the hooks before washing and use a small zipped laundry bag when washing your bra to stop it getting tangled. 

Check your bra before putting in the wash to make sure the wires are not loose and use the most gentle cycle you can to protect the bra from becoming misshapen. For this reason, tumble drying is not recommended. 

How to hand wash your bra

Bras are much more delicate than other items of clothing, so you shouldn’t just bung them in the washing machine along with your jeans.

Hand washing bras:

Hand washing is always preferable as it’s a lot kinder to the fine material and extra details like bows or embroidery that your bra might have.

Boux Avenue recommends a five-step approach, which can be seen below:

1. Gently blot mild stains with delicate detergent.

2. Soak in warm lukewarm water and detergent and gently rub together.

3. Rinse in cool water by gently folding bra in two to get rid of excess.

4. Reshape bras with moulded cups when damp to ensure it keeps its shape.

5. Lay bra flat on a towel.

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How to machine wash your bra

If you need your bra back in business in a hurry, you might need to machine wash it.

The first thing you need to do is get yourself a lingerie wash bag to keep it safe. Wash bags should be sheer enough for the water to penetrate your lingerie and wash everything properly, while being sturdy enough to protect fine garments through every wash cycle including spinning. Side note: they’re also a good idea for socks or tights to stop a pair being separated (and inevitably lost and gobbled by the sock monster) or tights getting tangled and stretched.

John Lewis and Partners does a set of three wash bags which can be used for all fine goods (£7.23), Boux Avenue sells one especially for bras (£5), as does Intimissimi (£8).

Once you’ve popped your bra inside a washbag, follow the care instructions but make sure you wash at 40 degrees or more, because anything colder won’t cleanse properly. Wash on a delicate washing cycle and only use gentle detergent. Once done, carefully reshape the cups to ensure they stay in the correct position.

Beautiful machine washable bras to buy now

If you really can’t be bothered to hand scrub your delicates – we understand. You might that means pretty bras are off limits, but plenty of on-trend brands stock gorgeous bras that can be machine washed. Although, most of them will favour a bralette shape, over under wiring and lace details. 

Shop below for bras that look great, feel comfortable and don’t have to be hand washed. 

  • Organic cotton triangle bra

    How often should I wash my bra?

    Organic Basics sites this style as one of its best sellers thanks to its comfortable, no-wires fit and yet it has lots of support.

    It’s made from 95% organic cotton and 5% elastane and can used in the washing machine on a maximum heat of 60 degrees.

    Shop Organic cotton triangle bra at Organic Basics, £36

  • Underwired mesh bra

    How often should I wash my bra?

    We’ve long worshiped COS for its chic, Scandinavian aesthetic, which is something that even extends to the brand’s undergarments. 

    This powder pink number does have an underwire, which is great if you like that kind of support, and can of course be machine washed. COS encourages its customers to make sure their garments last for as long as possible using its care guide

    Shop underwired mesh bra at COS, £25

  • Floral lace soft bra

    How often should I wash my bra?

    Trust & Other Stories to produce this vivid but delicate green beauty. The floral pattern has a summery, feminine flourish that we can see you wearing until the colder months roll around again. 

    This bra can be washed on a 40 degree wash, and should not be dry cleaned which saves a few pennies.

    Shop floral lace soft bra at & Other Stories, £23

  • Filippa bralette

    How often should I wash my bra?

    This bra has got it. The on-trend pink and green colour clash, lace trimmings and leopard print – we couldn’t be more in love.

    It can be washed on a 30 degree, gentle wash, but Love Stories asks that you use a washing bag (like the ones mentioned above).

    Shop Filippa bralette at Love Stories, £48

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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