According to a survey published in the most recent issue of Chatelaine magazine, 90% of the 1029 Canadian women questioned had washed their bras in the past week. That definitely left me wondering about the other 10%! It also prompted me to wonder how often we ought to wash our bras and whether I wash mine more often than I need to.
This is not a topic that I ever thought I’d find myself writing about, but I did a little digging and here’s what I discovered.
Lexie Sachs, a product analyst in the Good Housekeeping Institute’s textiles lab pointed out that how often you ought to wash your bra really depends on how active you are. “Every few wears should be sufficient, but it does depend on your activity level,” she explained. “For instance, if you’re outside on a humid day and end up sweating a lot, you’ll want to wash your bra sooner.” That seems like a no brainer to me.
Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a New York based dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital, says that while there are no steadfast rules, you should ideally be washing your bra after every two or three wears. If you go a week or longer, he says, “you’ll really have an accumulation of dirt, oil, sweat, and bacteria.”
According to Mary Begovic Johnson, a senior scientific communications manager at Procter & Gamble, three wears is the limit. She says that a general rule of thumb is that the closer something is to your body the more frequently you should wash it. “Since bras are in intimate contact with your body we recommend washing them after three wears at the most, more often if you perspire heavily.”
Phew! Apparently I’m right in line with the experts as I almost always wash a bra after wearing it three times.
Perhaps just as important as how often we wash our bras, however, is how we wash them. I admit that during my younger years, especially when I was busy raising children and teaching school, I threw mine in the washer along with everything else. I did hang them to dry, however, as the heat of the dryer will wear out the elastic in no time. It wasn’t until I moved to Japan for a year that I started caring for my bras more tenderly. Compared to most Japanese women, I’m an Amazon. I knew that the likelihood of me finding bras to fit in that country was slight, so mine had to last the year. Consequently, I washed them by hand. Once I saw how well they lasted, I never went back to throwing them in the machine again. If you wear an underwire bra, hand washing also prevents the wire from escaping and getting caught in the drum which could lead to a costly repair bill.
If time is an issue, however, or you simply hate hand washing, most most modern washers have a gentle cycle or even a hand washables cycle. Just pick up a mesh bra bag, like this one from Woolite, to cushion the bra and stop it from twisting and losing its shape, as well as from snagging other laundry items. Also, don’t forget to reshape your bras before you hang them or lie them flat to dry.
So, how often do you wash your bras or is that too personal a question? Do you hand wash them or put them in the machine? Inquiring minds want to know!