We Hate To Admit It But Handwashing Bras Is The Way To Go - Here's How To Start

You don't have to wear bras all the time, but there's no denying their rightful place in our drawers. A good bra can be expensive, with some costing more than a monthly phone bill. And stumbling upon perfect-fitting bras is akin to finding a needle in a haystack, so you want to make your bras last as long as possible. A fool-proof way of ensuring their longevity? Handwashing. 


A solid handwashing routine is one of the best habits you can create to make your bras last longer. This little bit of time can be well worth it as you make your favorite bras last longer into the future. Make cleaning them a task on your chore list so it feels like a priority instead of an inconvenience. Set aside time to gather all of the dirty bras from the week, hand wash them, and allow them to dry so they are ready for their next wear. Here are some tried and true techniques you can use to get your handwashing process done right.

Do I need detergent to wash my bras?

Here's the thing about brassieres: they are much more delicate than you think. Using your regular detergent should be fine for thicker garments like pants and sweaters, but for delicates like bras, you need something much less potent so as not to destroy the built-in elastics and fibers weaved into them.


If you want to be really careful about your bras, you can purchase laundering soaps specially formulated for delicates and handwashing. But if you insist on using regular detergent, it's important to make sure that it's formulated with gentle ingredients and doesn't contain any bleach or alcohol. "For hand-washing especially, the more 'pure,' the better," celebrity stylist Samantha Brown told Reader's Digest

You also don't need to douse your bras in detergent, either. A couple of teaspoons is ideal for easy rinsing and to avoid any soapy and sticky residue. You also have the option to skip any cleaning agent altogether (but only for a quick rinse between actual washes, of course). You can even add a few drops of your favorite essential oils instead. That way, your delicates will still come out smelling fresh and clean.


Are there any special hacks involved in washing bras?

When it comes to handwashing bras, it's less about the act of actual washing, but more about soaking. Regardless of what bra you're cleaning, whether it's a wired brassiere or a sports bralette, you more or less follow the same process: soaking, gentle scrubbing, and air drying.


For starters, you need to fill your sink or a basin with cool water. Using hot water may make more sense to kill bacteria, but with delicates like bras, you only risk destroying them with warmer temperatures. You then proceed with adding soap or detergent, mix to create a cleaning solution, and then submerge your bra for a short soak, ideally around five to ten minutes.

Once done, simply rinse it with clean water, and remove the excess moisture either via gentle squeezing or pressing it between a towel (avoid wringing at all costs as you risk destroying the fabric). Then lay or hang it out to dry. Now that doesn't entail too much work, does it?

Why do I need to air-dry my bras?

One of the worst things you can do to your bras is throw them into the dryer to let the machine do all the work. Even the lowest heat can potentially ruin their structure, and the last thing you want is to toss your favorite bra into the garbage bin. According to "The Bra Book" author Jené Luciani, "the heat from the dryer is literally kryptonite for the bra." She told Today that resorting that tumble drying will only "break down the material of the bra much faster."


Leaving your bras out to air-dry should be your only option. After you've washed them thoroughly, find a flat and stable surface where you can lay each one flat, with the cups facing up to preserve their form. You can also drape them over a drying rack or even your shower curtain rod, but avoid hanging them by their straps because that, too, can ruin the fabric.

How often should I be washing my bras in the first place?

If you want to increase the lifespan of your bras, you can often refrain from washing them after every use. Depending on the activity, bras can withstand a couple of wears before they have to go in the wash. Of course, any that have visible stains or an odor should be washed no matter how many times they've been worn.


In general, there's no standard rule regarding the frequency of washing, but it should depend on how you've worn them. Ones you use for work or running errands can be washed less frequently, like after wearing them three times. However, sports bras should likely be cleaned after each wear, especially if it's an intense workout sesh. Either way, bra expert Frederika Zappe also suggested to Self that climate is a crucial factor, too. "Also take into account the weather (has it been terribly hot?)."

How else can I make my bras last longer?

One thing that's often overlooked when it comes to undergarment care is storage. Many of us are guilty of hastily folding them in half and dumping them inside our underwear drawers when really, there's a proper way of storing them. Instead of folding, experts recommend laying them flat and stacking them on top of each other so the cups maintain their shape. If you don't have drawer space, you can also invest in bra organizers or special hangers.


And as much as you want to wear your favorite pair every time, it's better to give it a rest and reach for your other bras so each can get the same number of wears. If you want to maximize the longevity of your bras, it's important that you swap them out after a few uses. Suzanne Macbale, CEO and founder of intimates brand LoveSuze, told Romper, "Ideally, you want to have at least 3 to 4 of your favorite everyday bras in rotation. Alternate between wearing your daily or favorite bras to give them the time they need to return to their original shape. I would let a bra rest for 24 hours before wearing it again."