It's a tale as old as time: you finally shell out your hard-earned money for a beautiful new bra, take it home, wear it a few times, and then have to have an internal debate as to how you should actually go about washing it. Now, picturing yourself bent over the bathtub trying to scrub it clean by hand kinda seems like a narrative that you never asked to be a part of. But then do you really want to walk on the wild side and risk flushing all that money you just spent straight down the drain by putting it in the washing machine?
Because of questions like these that usually end with me just convincing myself over and over that I can get one more wear out of my bras before needing to wash them, I talked to Laura Henney, the owner of The Rack Shack, an inclusive bra boutique on what you should actually be doing to wash and care for your bra. She answered every question from whether we really need to *gasp* hand-wash our bras (spoiler: you should and it's actually simple AF) to what exactly we should be washing them with. So fellow confused launderers, fear not! Once you read through this you’ll be caring for your bras like an old pro.
Do I really have to hand wash my bras?
According to Laura, yes, hand washing is the best way to get all the sweat and smells out of your bra, while also making sure your bra stays in good shape. And let me stop you mid-eye-roll before you completely write off the archaic idea of doing laundry by hand to let you know that it’s really a lot easier than you might think. “What I always tell people is just put them in your sink with cold water and soap, go watch an episode of Netflix, rinse them out, and hang them over your shower curtain,” Laura said. Now TBH that’s something even my lazy, laundry-hating self could get behind.
What about machine-washing your bras inside a lingerie bag?
So, machine washing may not be the ideal way to clean your bras, but some of us (guilty as charged) just like being able to throw it in the machine with our other clothes and call it a day. And can you really blame us? Thankfully Laura says you can still do that, but you just have to make sure your machine is on the gentle cycle. You’re also gonna want to make sure you’ve got yourself one of those little netted lingerie laundry bags to put your bras in. And you really don’t want to put it in the machine with anything too heavy, like towels.
What detergent should I use to wash my bras?
Basically there are two main criteria you need to meet when choosing a detergent to wash your bra with. 1. It can’t have any bleach and 2. it can’t have any alcohol. “They have some amazing laundry detergents out there, my favourite is Soak,” Laura says. And if the detergent that you already have on hand isn’t safe for your bras, you can just use a little baby shampoo to get your bras smelling oh-so-fresh and clean.
Can I wash my bras with vinegar?
Some people out there will recommend washing your bras in water with a couple of spoonfuls of vinegar for a more natural cleaning method, but Laura says that although it works, it isn’t typically something she’ll tell her clients to do. “It kills mildew and stuff but I wouldn’t per se recommend washing your stuff with vinegar because I want my stuff to smell nice,” she says.
How often should I be washing my bras?
Laura tells her clients to rotate their bras by wearing a different bra each day over a two week period and then wash them all together at the end of that. “If you have, for example, a black, a white, a beige, and hot pink bra, whatever you have, wear black Monday, hot pink Tuesday, white Wednesday, and beige Thursday, because it’s just better for the material of the bra,” she says. That way the bra’s elastic gets a break in-between wears, giving it time to get back into its original shape, and you only have to wash them twice a month — it’s truly a win-win!
Can I put my bras in the dryer?
If you’re out here putting your bras in the dryer then you need to make like the Spice Girls and stop right now. Laura says that this is the #1 mistake people make with their bras. It can totally mess with the shape of your bra and makes it deteriorate way faster, so you’ll be getting less bang (or bra?) for your buck. To keep it Gucci, you’ll want to either hang your bras in the bathroom over your shower curtain rod or lay them flat on a towel to dry.
Do I have to treat different types of bras differently?
If you’re worried that you have to do something special for your lace bra vs. your padded one, or a wired vs. non-wired bra, I’ve got some great news for you: the answer is a big ol’ N-O. You can wash them all together, the same way. Hooray for equality!
What else can I do between washes to keep my bras in good shape?
You know when you see those unrealistic scenes in movies of a woman just slipping her arms through the straps of her bra and doing it up behind her and it makes you super frustrated because who even puts their bra on like that!? No? Just me? Well, as it turns out, that’s actually what we should all be doing. "A lot of people twist their bra and flip it over when they put the bra on and that puts a lot of pressure on the wires and the wires will pop out even easier and sooner," Laura says. "The best way I always say is to put your arms through the straps first and bend forward so your boobs fall into the cups and then clasp in the back."
Laura also highly advises against folding your bra's cups into one another to store them. Instead, you should lay them out flat and stack them on top of each other that way. And a hot tip for all you travellers out there, when you pack your bras in your suitcase, fill the cups with socks to keep the shape.