By Jess Beech
How many times do you normally wear your bra before giving it a wash? Once, twice—more than three times?
The question of how often should you wash your bra is an age-old one and one with the power to divide a room. On the one hand, washing regularly is the best choice when it comes to hygiene, but washing in a machine or too often can damage the integrity of the wiring and fabric—shortening the lifespan of your undies in the process. Something that's especially annoying when it's your best bra.
So, in the quest for a straight answer as to how often you should wash your bra, we’ve posed the question to the experts.
How often should you wash your bra?
Apparently, how often you should wash your bra depends how often you're wearing it, and how sweaty you get during each wear.
As a general rule, experts seem to agree that every three to six wears is reasonable. Although as Textiles Analyst Lexie Sachs rightly points out, “this timeframe is, of course, subject to climate, sweating, odour, and other factors”.
For Kate Weir, Bra Whisperer at Curvy Kate, it’s not how often you wash your bras but how you wash them that counts.
“Every bra will have washing guidelines in the label and the biggest sin is to put them in the washing machine. Hand wash your bras as they are so delicate and the underwires can puncture the fabric if they are put inside of the metal drum of a washing machine.”
“So, for the good of your bra, and your purse, hand wash your bras with non-bio detergent after every 4 to 5 wears.”
“Do not use fabric conditioner as this stretches the elastane in the bra, leading to sagging and stretching. And of course, never tumble dry. Simply re-shape moulded or padded bras and dry flat or on a clothing horse.”
Is washing your bra too often bad for the environment?
Fashion designer Stella McCartney has divided opinion with her view on washing clothes—but do you agree with it?
In an interview with the Observer, the 47-year-old explained that her years of tailoring education have taught her some valuable lessons about caring for her garments.
Having spent years studying at Savile Row in her spare time, Stella revealed that one rule of thumb on the high-end London street was to wash your clothes very rarely.
She said, "the rule on a bespoke suit is you do not clean it. You do not touch it. You let the dirt dry and you brush it off.
"Basically, in life, rule of thumb: if you don’t absolutely have to clean anything, don’t clean it."
Sharing how the rule extends to her underwear, she also said, "I wouldn’t change my bra every day and I don’t just chuck stuff into a washing machine because it’s been worn. I am incredibly hygienic myself, but I’m not a fan of dry cleaning or any cleaning, really.”
Passionate about sustainable fashion, it's no surprise that Stella holds this view. Regular use of a washing machine and often a tumble dryer can create a larger carbon footprint—and overwashing our clothes can wear them out faster, prompting a need to buy more and add to the already-overworked world of clothes production.
So, re-wearing that bra just one more time might not be such a bad thing after all.
Jess Beech is an experienced fashion and beauty editor, with more than eight years experience in the publishing industry. She has written for woman&home, GoodtoKnow, Now, Woman, Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Own and Chat, and is currently Deputy Fashion & Beauty Editor at Future PLC.
She caught the magazine bug during a stint as Fashion Editor of her university newspaper alongside her English degree, and hasn’t looked back since. As for the fashion bug, that came as part and parcel of growing up in the 90s, but the less said about that the better!
Jess’ average day in the office is spent researching the latest fashion trends, chatting to industry tastemakers and scouring the internet to bring you this season’s must-buy pieces - as well as advice on how to wear them. Weekends are equally fashion-focused, and Jess has been known to visit no less than five Zara stores in a single day in search of the perfect occasion dress.
The only thing that comes close to a buzz of finally tracking down that much-coveted dress is the joy of discovering a new beauty wonder product or hero ingredient. A beauty obsessive, Jess has tried everything from cryotherapy to chemical peels (minus the Samantha in Sex and The City-worthy redness) and interviewed experts including Jo Malone and Trinny Woodall.
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