Organize & Clean

How Often Should You Wash Your Bras?

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Katarina Radovic/Stocksy)

People, let’s talk undergarments. We’re all on the same page when it comes to underwear—and that page most certainly says they should be washed after each use. But have you ever stopped for a minute to consider how often you should wash your bra? If your answer is no, well, you’re definitely not doing it enough. And if your answer is yes, you’re probably still not doing it enough.

I’ll be the first to admit that prior to reaching out to an expert for this article, I was already positive my bra-laundering habits were lame. (This is a safe space, right? Let’s all share our bad bra habits in the comments.) Whenever I’m about to wash one of my favorite bras, I realize that the laundry process is going to knock it out of commission for at least a few hours—and I can almost always think of a reason I can’t possibly live without it that day.

In those “To wash or not to wash moments,” the nagging voice in the back of my brain (hi, Mom!) always reminds me that skipping the suds probably isn’t the best idea. But, I simply file it under relatively harmless health mistakes we all knowingly make: Cleaning our ears out with Q-Tips, skipping breakfast, letting the dog sleep in the bed… the list goes on and I amend it constantly to include “not washing your bra enough.”

So How Often Do You Need to Wash a Bra?

The day of reckoning has arrived because, to get to the bottom of this query, I reached out to Jené Luciani—TV lifestyle correspondent, bra expert for Dr. Oz, and bestselling author of The Bra Book. Brace yourselves, because what I’m about to tell you may come as a shock. Per Luciani, “You should wash your bras after every wearing, which is something a lot of women don’t realize!”

Wait, what?! This situation just shot from DEFCON 5 to DEFCON 1. All forces are a go; panic-stricken bra laundering is imminent. So, what’s the logic behind this heightened state of readiness?

The problem isn’t just the general grossness of your bra accumulating sweat, bacteria, and other bodily stuff in between washes; it’s what that stuff does to your bra, too. “The dirt and oils in our skin can break down the elasticity of the material,” Luciani explained.

Before you take your marching orders and head to the washing machine with your bras in tow, though, keep in mind that washing them incorrectly could also damage them. Advised Luciani, “Wash in a garment bag on gentle cycle in cool water with gentle detergent.”

If you just can’t seem to wrap your head around washing your bra after every use, at least wash it after every couple of uses. Lexie Sachs, senior product analyst in the Textiles Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, told USA Today that “if you aren’t sweating a lot and wearing for regular use you can do it every few wears.”

However, if you think outside of the box, minimizing the amount of bra washing in your household is a pretty good excuse to buy all the bras for maximum rotation—or just skip ’em altogether.