Show Your Bras the TLC They Deserve With These Easy Hand Washing Tips

Hand washing your bras is easier than you think. Here's how to do it.

how to hand wash a bra
Photo: Ana Celaya

If we're being honest, laundry day is about as fun as filing your tax returns. Wrangling dirty clothes into a washing machine isn't exactly our idea of a good time, and hand washing just about anything trumps our list of least desirable household chores.

Unfortunately for laundry-phobes, bras fall under the hand-washing category—but for good reason. Taking the extra time to carefully hand wash your lingerie actually extends the shelf life of your most trusted underwires. To help us better understand the ins and outs of bra care, we looked to Ra'el Cohen, the chief creative officer of ThirdLove, for answers.

Why do bras need to be hand washed?

Ultimately, hand washing is the best way to preserve your bra's shape and extend its longevity compared to throwing it in the washing machine. "It may not sound convenient, but it's worth the effort," says Cohen.

How often should you wash your bra?

According to Cohen, once every one to two weeks is ideal, but that depends on how often you wear the bra in question. If you only wear one bra regularly, you'll likely need to wash it more often. "That's why we suggest keeping three to five bras in rotation," she says. In a perfect world, you'll have one bra for every day of the work week to prevent your undergarments from wearing out too quickly.

What is the best way to wash your bra?

First, dab any stains with mild soap and water, and gently rub. Then, soak the bra for a few minutes in the sink in order to gently work the suds into the fabric. Rinse, then get rid of any excess water by gently folding your bra against a towel before laying it out to dry. See? That wasn't so hard.

What type of soap is best for hand washing a bra?

"We recommend using a mild soap and water when laundering your bras," says Cohen. Our go-to cleanser: The Laundress Delicate Wash ($17;, which is formulated without phosphates or artificial coloring.

Are washing machines entirely off-limits?

If you're really in a pinch and must throw your bras in the washer, clean them on the gentle/cold cycle. "Hook your bra together to avoid snagging it on other items, and use a mesh lingerie bag to protect your bras from harm," says Cohen. To dry, either use your lowest dryer setting, or lay your now squeaky-clean bra on a towel to air dry. Avoid high heat, since extreme temps can break down elastic and spandex over time.

Truthfully, the only time you can get away with not washing your bra is when it needs to be replaced. Unsure if it's time to retire your go-to underwire once and for all? Brush up on the nine signs it's time to replace your bra ASAP.

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