Bras are so valuable to me, and so personal! The first time I got a really well-fitting bra, I didn’t want to take it off ever! That is not a realistic option, but I did wear it a lot of times before I washed it. Some of you might find that disgusting, and that’s fine. You don’t have to wear my bra. The truth is, there is no correct standard for bra cleanliness. There is no rule you can follow. You must figure out what is best for you.
Given this, there are a few factors that will impact your decision.
1. Every time you wash a bra it deteriorates a little bit.
2. Hot water, washing machines, and detergents deteriorate bras faster.
3. Bras absorb a disgusting amount of sweat and skin cells.
When creating a bra-cleaning routine, you have to find a balance that works for you, your lifestyle, and your comfort levels. Of course, if you are trying to fence in some really large tracts of land, then you know that bras are expensive! Every time you wash those bras, you are reducing their life, so deciding how to wash your bras is a hygiene, a time management, and financial decision.
The best way to extend the life of your bras is to wash them rarely and gently in warm or cold water.
My mother always just threw her bras into the washing machine, but her bras were cheap. This should be your last resort. Using a washing machine will destroy your bras. Still, you ladies have busy lives. I get it. If you use a machine, put your bras in a lingerie bag; wash them on a gentle cycle; and use cold water. Always air dry your bras. DO NOT PUT THEM IN THE DRYER.
Cleaning bras by hand can be a big undertaking, but it is the best way to increase the life of your bras. I wear all my bras in rotation for quite a while, then wash them all at once. Most of the washing process is waiting, so I choose a weekend when I plan on lounging around at home.
You will need water, a container or two (I am using a sink and a big bowl), and some light soap. There is a bit of controversy over the soaps. There are lots of lingerie soaps, which will work just fin. Some people use Woolite, but other people say that destroys elastic. I choose to avoid the whole debate and use Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. I like that the ingredients are natural, and they don’t use any perfumes (Also, the documentary Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox is fascinating).
Divide your bras into light and dark colors, fill the containers with warm water, and add soap. The amount of soap will depend on the soap and how much water you use, but you won’t need much. Dr. Bronner’s is super concentrated, so I just add tiny amounts until the water is cloudy. Then submerge your bras in the water, swish them around a little bit, and leave them for an hour.
When you come back, the water and soap will have totally absorbed into your bras. Plunge them up and down a few times and swish them around to dislodge the dirt. Then, gently rub your fingers along the underwire and seams, especially in the armpit area. You can swish them around a little more, then drain the water. You will be disgusted by the amount of dirt in the water!
To rinse, hold each bra under a the faucet and run warm or cool water over each part of the bra. Gently rub your fingers on the underwire again.
To dry, gently squeeze out the excess water, then hang your bras somewhere to drip dry. I use my shower. If you have molded cup bras, reshape them so they will dry in the correct form. They will take a really long time to dry. I leave mine overnight, and the thicker ones are usually still damp in the morning, so plan for that. Don’t wash your bras the day before you will need a particular bra.
This is a basic framework. Figuring out what works for you will take some trial and error. I wish you the best of luck! If you have any amazing bra-cleaning tips, let me know in the comments!