Despite having a drawer full of bras, most women wear the same two or three over and over again since they are the only ones in the drawer that fit and are comfortable. What many women are not doing is properly caring for their bras, which leads to fast deterioration of the garment.
If you want your bras to perform at their best and last as long as possible, you need to wash your bra after wearing it once, or maximally twice. Think about it: the bra is worn directly against your body so it collects body oils and skin cells. Elastic, a key component of the bra band and straps, does not respond well to either substance. When these materials get into the elastic its ability to stretch and contract is decreased. It takes a proper wash to remove these substances so the elastic can go back to doing its job. If you wear your bras twice before washing, you need to give the bra a day off in between wearings. Elastic needs time to recover and go back to a neutral position. That is what the day of rest in between wearings is for.
So how do you wash a bra? Let’s start with what you do not do: do not put your bra in the washing machine. I know you want to because it is so easy. Do not do it! Remember there are wires encased under each bra cup. Those wires do important support work in your bra. They need to keep their shape and stay right where they are. In the washer (yes even in the delicate cycle), the water pressure and the pressure of clothing around the bra (yes, even when you put the bra in the lingerie bag) can cause the wire to twist and lose its shape. Think about your other clothes too. Those bra hooks can catch on whatever else you have in the washer (yes, even if you fasten them before you put them in the wash).
What about the dryer, you ask? I’ll be blunt: the dryer will ruin the elastic. I don’t care what temperature you use -. Elastic is key to the bra’s function, and, as outlined above, elastic needs to be cared for properly.
So what do we do if we want to maximize the longetivity of our garments? We hand wash bras and let them air dry flat. To wash a bra, use lukewarm water and a gentle detergent or even baby shampoo. Gentle is the operative word. Let the bras (separated by color, of course) soak for 30 minutes to allow the soap and water to work their cleaning magic. Rinse the soap from the bras in lukewarm water, gently squeeze out the excess water, then lay them on a towel to dry. This soak-and-squeeze technique is actually quite easy and doesn’t require much active time at all. If you don’t have enough bras to allow you to do this conveniently, then you need more bras. Simple as that.
There will come a time when a wash will not be able to resurrect the elastic and that is when the bra’s useful life is over. You will know the bra is finished when the elastic no longer contracts. This means the elastic will no longer keep the bra positioned correctly and the bra must be tossed out. Have you ever had a bra that fit perfectly at first but then started to sag and sit away from the body? This is likely because the elastic was exhausted.
If you have a rotation of at least three high quality bras and follow these instructions, a bra can last up to six months. If you have more high quality bras and are diligent in their care, then you can extend the life of them all. If you have less than three bras, bras that are of lesser quality and/or don’t follow these instructions your bra won’t last long, sending you shopping again for replacements. A handcrafted bra that fits perfectly, is rotated with other bras, and is washed carefully is the longest-lasting bra of all.