We wear bras every. Single. Day. So it makes sense that we should give them the best possible care. You may not have the time to spend hours hand-washing them, but there are better ways to care for your bras than tossing them in the washing machine and pressing start.
We asked the lingerie experts at Rigby & Peller for some helpful tips. Make a few changes to the way you treat your bras, and you could see valuable results with little effort.
01. Keep a Rotation
If you wear your favorite bra all day every day, it’s probably time to go shopping and get a few more that you love. Many of us are guilty of this bra faux pas, but Rigby & Peller say that you should never wear the same bra two days in a row. Why? Elastic needs time to get back into shape, so your bras can lose shape if they don’t have time to breathe; keeping multiple bras in rotation will give them a chance to rest. This also preserves the elastic in the band and straps, which is essential to the performance of your bra.
02. Wash Your Bras Every 2–3 Wears
Over-washing your bras can shorten their lifespan, but under-washing them means you’re wearing sweat and grime day after day. Wash your bras after every two to three wears so they stay clean but in good condition, suggests Rigby & Peller. During the summer months or after heavy (read: sweat-inducing) activity, do keep in mind that you might want to wash your bras more often.
03. Use Alcohol-Free Detergent
Wash your bras with an alcohol-free lingerie wash. Rigby & Peller recommends Forever New powder wash or their own liquid wash. Make sure you’re using a gentle powder or liquid wash rather than detergents that contain alcohol, which will dry out your bra’s elastic. These lingerie washes are specifically designed to remove stains while preserving elasticity, making your bras last longer.
Rigby & Peller do recommend hand-washing your bras, but it’s a lot easier than you think. Simply fill the sink with cool water, drop in some wash powder, add your bras, gently swirl, soak for 10 minutes, rinse, and hang. It’s actually quicker than doing a machine wash!
05. Close the Back Clasp & Wash in Lingerie Bag
Let’s be real, though: Sometimes washing by hand is just too time-consuming. If you wash your bras in a machine, keep them safe by closing the back clasps, putting the bras in a lingerie bag, setting the machine to the delicate cycle, and washing them in cool or cold water (hot water damages elasticity).
Don’t forget about closing those clasps; they can get hooked onto other items in your wash, causing the bra to wrap around them and stretch out.
06. Hang Dry
Never, ever, ever put your bras in the dryer! The heat breaks down the elastic and can melt the underwire casing, resulting in a misshapen bra that hardly fits like it did before. After you wash your bras, reshape the cups and hang the bra to dry by the band, not the straps. If you hang it by the straps, the bottom of the bra becomes waterlogged, pulling on the straps and stretching them out.
Illustration: Clare Owen