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Extend the Life of Your Bras with These Simple Tips

A woman lifting a bra out of a lingerie drawer
Voyagerix/Shutterstock

Good bras aren’t cheap and caring for them incorrectly is like throwing money in the trash. The following tips and tricks will ensure your bras have a long and useful life.

A lot goes into finding bras you love. Between finding a style that works well with your body shape to nailing down a proper fit, not to mention how much stocking your lingerie drawer costs, it’s worth learning how to care for your bras and extend their lives. Here’s how.

Hand Wash Them

No matter what the tags on your bras may say about machine laundering, the best thing for your bras is never to see the inside of a washing machine. Bras are delicate, and hand washing them is the best way to avoid bent and protruding underwires and otherwise protect them. Use a detergent made for delicates and wash in warm water. Here are the steps for handwashing your bras:

  • Fill a bucket or small tub with warm water and delicates fabric wash. Place your bras in the water, submerging them. Go ahead and leave them for a few minutes to help the warm water break up skin oils and dirt.
  • Agitate the water and massage the soap into the bras. Pay special attention to the bottom of the cup and the band where it rests in your armpits. If you have underwires, be careful not to bend them too much.
  • Rinse well under the tap, ensuring you get all of the soap out.
  • Do not wring padded bras out! Instead lay the bra on a clean, dry towel and roll it. Then apply light pressure. The towel will absorb much of the water.
  • Hang to dry.

While hand washing is ideal, we understand that sometimes it’s just not an option if you’re in a hurry. If you machine wash your bras, it’s important to do it correctly. You’ll need to buy a mesh bag for washing delicates. Clasp the bra and place it in (don’t fold it or do anything else to it). Wash the bras, along with other similar fabrics (like elastic leggings and hose) on a delicate cycle. When the load is done, hang dry.

Skip the Dryer, Always Drip Dry 

Never put your bra in the dryer. Heat is the mortal enemy of elastic and bras are layers of elastic and elastic-like fibers this way and that.

Even tumble drying is rough on bras, wearing on the delicate fabric and leading to premature underwire failure. The reality is that bras are light enough that they dry quickly when hung up and the extra speed you get from the dryer isn’t worth the beating your poor bras take in the process.

Wash Them Infrequently

Unlike many other articles of clothing, you can get away with wearing a bra more than once. Instead of tossing them in the hamper after a single wear, get two or three days of use out of them before giving them a good cleaning. Exceptions apply of course: if it’s unusually hot out and you’ve been sweating a lot, or you’re wrestling with any sort of skin condition on your back, shoulders, or under your breasts (like acne or an under-breast rash) you’ll want to wash your bras after every wear.

Barring that, however, it’s best to hang your bra somewhere to air out and dry after wearing it and squeeze out a second or third wearing before tossing it in the handwash bucket.

Rotate Your Bras

While it’s great to get a few wears out of the same bra before laundering it, never wear the same bra two days in a row! Why? Giving it at least one day of rest allows it to recover to its original shape and rests the elastic. It also ensures the bra has a chance to dry completely (it’s not unlike the advice to not wear the same shoes two days in a row so they can rest and dry).


With a few easy adjustments to your current routine, you can ensure you get every dollar (and wear) out of your bras before retiring them.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »

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