Dear Asking For a Friend,
I have a burning question: How often should I wash my bra?
Signed, How Dirty Is It Really
Dear How Dirty Is It Really,
The answer to your question really depends on your activity level and how much you perspire. If your daily routine includes an intense workout session while wearing your bra, or if you tend to be more active throughout the day, you’re probably going to find that your bra gets smelly pretty quickly. If you aren’t very active, you’ll likely need to wash it less often.
Another factor to consider is your skin type. With oily skin, your bra could become a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast — when these microbes accumulate, you might experience breakouts, especially if your skin is sensitive. And if your breasts are large, you might have more folds in your skin which make you more prone to contact dermatitis. Other symptoms such as rashes, hives, blisters, and scarring have also been known to occur, and may require medical care. That said, good hygiene and regular washing of your bra can cut down the chances of these things happening.
How to tell if it’s time for a wash
Your laundry schedule may look different from that of your friends, but there are a few telltale signs that point to a dirty bra. If your bra is light-colored bra and you notice that it’s starting to look dull or has that beige tinge to it, it’s time for a wash. If you can smell it as you’re putting it on or if it fails the sniff test, that’s a pretty strong signal that your bra could use a little soap and water action.
Jennifer Klein, bra expert at Secrets From Your Sister lingerie and bra fitting boutique in Toronto suggests that “bras should be washed every one to three wears — the more often, the longer the bra will last,” she says. This means that if you wear just one bra, you’ll need to wash it at least a couple of times a week, but if you have multiple bras on rotation, you might be able to get away stretching laundering time to every couple of weeks.
Klein says that hand-washing your bra is ideal, but, instead of scrubbing it with a harsh soap or laundry detergent, try using Soak, which she suggests is the best gentle wash product on the market.
To keep your bra in tip top shape, soak it in a mixture of cold water and gentle soap, and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Then rinse with cold water and use your palms to squeeze out any excess water. Hang it to dry, either outside if weather permits, or inside, like on the bathroom counter, over the bathtub or on a clothesline — to help preserve its shape, fold the bra over in the centre and clip it to the line. If you’re strapped for time, the washing machine works too, but Klein suggests using cold water and a delicate cycle. Make sure you do up the hooks to prevent snagging. Putting the bra in a wash bag, or a pillowcase, can also reduce pilling and keep your bra looking new. Avoiding high heat from the dryer can help to as it can damage the elastic, warns Klein.
There are a lot of different opinions on how often a bra should be washed. Some experts suggest that less is more, while others say that if you invest in multiple properly fitted, good quality bras that you rotate throughout the week, washing them often shouldn’t be a problem. Do what works for you, but Klein advises that with proper care, such as frequent hand washing, rotating two to four bras per week, and investing in quality can provide the right support and help extend the life of your bra — and keep it smelling sweet.