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When Should I Replace My Bras?

Woman tossing out a handful of old bras
Anetlanda/Shutterstock

Bras, sadly, just like the rest of your clothing, don’t last forever. There’s a variety of reasons to retire a bra, and you might be surprised to learn that the age of the bra isn’t one of them. Here’s what to look for.

One person’s year-old bra could be in like-new condition, while someone else’s bra they’ve had for the same amount of time may be ready to fall apart. A lot depends on how well you’re caring for your bra and how often you’re wearing it. If you have one bra that you wear day, after day it will wear down sooner than it would if you only wore it a couple of times a week. Regardless of how often or how little you wear the bra though, there are some important factors to keep in mind.

Is It Time to Replace My Bra?

If this is a question you’re asking yourself, there are a few things to consider when determining if your bra is ready for replacement. You may find you have a few bras in your rotation that probably no longer belong there. It’s about more than getting poked with an underwire!

The Finger Test

If you can fit more than two fingers under the band even when it’s on the tightest hooks, you need to replace your bra. This means that your bra is either too big for you or it’s stretched out from wearing it. The band provides almost all the support, and it should be very snug.

Elasticity Problems

Speaking of stretched out bras, when the elastic no longer stretches and returns to its former shape correctly, it’s time to replace your bra. Elastic doesn’t last forever, and the more you wear your bra, the quicker the elastic will break down. Proper care and usage of your bra will extend its life.

Pinching Problems

Sometimes you may find that your bra is pinching into your back or your shoulders. If you have the shoulder straps adjusted to the loosest points, and your band is also on the loosest hooks, and your bra is still too tight, it’s time for a replacement.

Cup Shape and Comfort

When, if the bra has molded cups, they no longer hold their shape, you need a new bra. The padding in molded and push-up bras breaks down from use and washing. Make these bras last longer by hand washing (and never put them in the dryer).

Those Pesky Underwires Are Popping Out

When the underwire is damaged or has worn through the stitching and protrudes out, you’ll know it. If you wear underwire bras, you’ve probably been poked by a freed underwire at some point. You can try to stitch it back it, but that rarely works.

The Cups No Longer Fit

When, regardless of the physical state of the bra, the cups are too small or too big for your current bust, you need a better fitting bra. It may be time to get a new bra size measurement. You can measure yourself at home, but it always helps to have the assistance of a professional at a proper bra store.

A General Lack of Support

When the bra, regardless of any other identifiable factor, no longer provides support for your bust like it did when you first began wearing it, replace it. One of the factors already discussed above is likely in play, or the bra is just old and worn out.


Finally, if you’re retiring some bras because they’re just not the right size or style for you anymore (but they are otherwise still in serviceable condition), there are plenty of charities you can donate them to.

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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