Confession: I haven’t washed the bra I’m wearing since I purchased it about four months ago. For some, this is totally disgusting information. For others, it’s not far off the mark (my editor just admitted it’s been a year since she washed the bra she’s wearing right now!).
That might be more than I wanted to know, but the fact is, bra hygiene is an inexact science and incredibly idiosyncratic. In my office alone, people admit to laundering every three weeks to my own four months to the boss’ icky year. Keep in mind, however, that how frequently you wash a bra depends on how many other bras are in your weekly rotation.
That so many women apply such wildly different approaches to bra-washing with nearly identical results, i.e., boobs stay in place, invites the question: Why do we care?
Bras, as you probably know, can cost a lot. Most boulder holders can average $60-$90. So it behooves us to keep them in working order. (Unless, like a unicorn coworker of mine, you buy the cheapest bras possible — where? — then toss them.)
And it turns out, ladies, bra-longevity isn’t really about washing at all. It’s about drying.
“Absolutely skip the dryer,” says Rania Abu-Eid, creative director of New York City lingerie company Journelle Collection. “The dryer will break down the elastic fibers. Hang dry or lay your items flat to dry always!”
Washing is mostly about personal hygiene, less about bra maintenance. And appearance only really matters if you’re … entertaining. But in terms of the gross factor, bacteria, dead skin, sweat, dirt and other nasties do build up over time, especially if the twin peaks aren’t allowed to breathe. They’re not particularly harmful — unless you’ve got cuts on your chest (please wear the right bra size, ladies). But if you are keeping up with your personal hygiene, you should be fine. After all, we wear leggings and jeans multiple times a week and tend to finally wash them because of outer-level stains. Or is that just me again?
Professionally speaking, Abu-Eid says to wash your bras after “three or four wears.” While she recommends hand-washing as “the safest method to wash your bras due to the delicate nature of the fabrics,” if you do put them in the machine, make sure to hook them closed and put them in a mesh laundry bag first.