How often should you wash your non-sports bras?

When the “great unwashed celebrities” debate lit up in 2021, I have to say I did not foresee the longevity, vehemence, or detours these conversations would take. Having just had a relaxing shower — where I paid extra attention to washing behind my ears, in my belly button, and between my toes, thanks Rosie! — I am now ready to settle into a discussion of bra washing, and the frequency thereof. Steph Claire Smith and Laura Henshaw are the Aussie co-founders of the global fitness app Kic. Laura confessed to Steph on their podcast recently that she didn’t know how often she should be washing her bras. And the comments swiftly rolled in…

A popular influencer has made a candid confession about how often she puts her bra through the wash — and some people have been left disgusted.

Laura Henshaw, who runs wellness and fitness company Kic with Steph Claire Smith, opened up during an episode of their podcast.

“How often am I meant to be washing my bra, because I genuinely don’t,” Laura said before Steph jumped in and asked how often Laura actually washed hers.

Maybe once a month I reckon.

Steph was shocked before Laura explained bras were harder to wash and that if the bra had a longer lifespan there was no need to wash it as often.

Social media users were divided on whether Laura was right, with some declaring they wash the item every day and others saying they were lucky if it made it to the washing machine once a month.

“I wear a new one every day and chuck it in the wash bin every day,” one social media user said.

Another said: “Once every two weeks or so. But I also don’t wear the same bra every day so it doesn’t get dirty or smelly.”

“I reckon once a week is more than enough unless sports bra of course,” one said.

One user shared: “Depends on a lot of things I reckon. I sweat a lot at work and end up smelling like food so generally every couple of days I alternate.”

“OMG what are you all doing!!? I wash mine every two to three wears but I have a couple of different ones so they get swapped out,” one disgusted social media user said.

Another added: “Well people — I have a 10FF and u cant (sic) buy those in your regular stores so the average bra cost me a minimum $70 [Australian, about $44 USD] so I’m with her. Probs once a month.”

According to the experts at Everyday Health, bras are a breeding ground for dirt, sweat, and dead skin cells that should be washed every two to four wears.

“Though increase that to more often if you were sweating a lot when wearing it or are experiencing skin irritation or infection in the area around your breasts,” the expert said.

[From NY Post]

To the person who said, “But I also don’t wear the same bra every day so it doesn’t get dirty or smelly.” I am also someone who intentionally does not wear the same bra every day. In fact I make sure to go through a complete rotation, so no one bra gets jealous of the other. But I do recognize that if you wore the bra, it’s dirty. That’s the nature of wearing clothing, non? (Or am I Pigpen and no one has told me?!) I’m not saying I wash my bras after each wear, though. I land in the range suggested by Everyday Health of every two to four wears.

Instead of yelling at each other over our washing habits, though, can we collectively shift the outrage to how much money we spend on bras in our lifetimes? Because bras — like tampons — are an expense that half the population has to invest in. Repeatedly. I totally understand the desire to not wash your bra so it lasts longer. It’s a money saver. Which is why I want to match Scotland in making all period products free (which they did in 2020 and we still have yet to do, obviously), and raise them by making all bras free. Will it be easy? No, but it’s the craziest ideas that change the world!!! (I know, I know, we’ll have melted from climate change before #FreeBras happens.)

photos credit: Taryn Elliott and Leeloo The First on Pexels and via Instagram/Laura Henshaw

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43 Responses to “How often should you wash your non-sports bras?”

  1. LooneyTunes says:

    Dafuq is wrong with people? Bras are underwear. 😳 Undeeboob sweat and pit sweat. Stop with the piggishness and wash your ish after each wear.

    • Carrie says:

      100% agree. I totes assumed everyone washed their bras (similar to knickers), after every wear. Like wtf? 😬

    • ML says:

      I’m mostly with you, Looneytunes. I bike to work/ the store/ friends…It’s not exactly exercising, but I do sweat. I really don’t want to think about rewearing my bra after that. When traveling (and I’m not biking), I will wear my bra for a second day, though depending on how long I’m away, I air one while wearing another. Bras are underwear and get sweat and skin cells and bacteria on them. Like socks, you want them to be clean to prevent infections.

    • Whyforthelove says:

      I sweat so I wear then I wash period. I defray the costs by wearing bralettes at home if I’m no going out. Agree Brae should be treated like underwear

    • BeanieBean says:

      Good lord, yes! I sweat! I’m an outdoorsy person with an outdoorsy job & live in a tropical climate. I have a bra for each day of the week (currently liking Skims, which I buy on the cheap on eBay).

  2. paddingtonjr says:

    I would just settle for a good, solid, supportive bra under $25. Why should we have to go into debt buying a necessity? I try to rotate bras throughout the week and I do a big wash once a week, but washing bras is an inconvenience. They should be hand washed and dried, not put through the machine, so you have to make time for that.

    • Flower says:

      I am lazy and try to avoid dry cleaners as some of the chemicals aggravate me, so I invested in a good washing machine, which allows me to ‘hand-wash’ at low temps with almost no spin cycle. It has been a game changer for work wear and I estimate saves me @ £40 a month in dry cleaning.

      If I can’t be bothered to actually hand-wash my bras, I put them in an underwear net and set the machine to 20 degrees with almost no spin on a silk or wool wash cycle with delicates laundry wash for silk & wool etc. Doing this has kept my bras in good condition.

      I also tend to buy well constructed ‘every day’ bras which from experimenting and the materials used, I know that I CAN machine wash without being overly stressed about them disintegrating. I think this is where most women get stuck.

      Fancy lingerie is always hand washed.

      • BeanieBean says:

        This is what I do, I heard (or read) a clothing expert on this. Use one of those net lingerie bags, delicate cycle on your machine, cold water, hang dry. It’s all that tumbling that’s so tough on your fabrics, so you want to minimize how much of your clothing comes into contact with the inside of the drum. (Heat, from the dryer, is brutal on elastics.)

  3. Flower says:

    Not washing your bras is a recipe for getting some sort of infection under the soft folds of your breast skin.

    At a push I’d say every 3rd wear if only wearing a few hours a day BUT ideally I’d say every second wear.

    Handwashing with gentle detergent in the sink and then air drying the long way up preserves the shape and longevity of bras. In any case you’re not supposed to keep bras that long as they’re intimate underwear and your body changes as you gain/ lose weight etc so you should be switching them out at the very least on a yearly basis. So best to buy 2-3 at a time and rotate rather than have loads that won’t fit you properly in a years time.

    I do not understand people who can wear a bra for more than 2-3 days running. So icky.

    • Olivia says:

      Yes, this!
      Also .. you can’t paint everyone with the same brush. There is a difference as between a cup A and a cup DD.. cup A (oh I wish!) a bra is a suggestion. Cup DD, a bra is a scaffold necessary to even wear your work uniform you sweat in daily on your commute to work.

      • Flower says:

        Exactly I have very big boobs – even when I lose weight I am an EE/F cup so not having a well constructed bras is just a NO for me.

        I have a lot of Chantelle bras as they’re well made for bigger boobs but also reasonably well priced – especially if you catch their sales.

      • Kebbie says:

        Quick PSA, but DD is not actually a large size. Band size determines volume so 28DD is what most people would think of as an A cup.

        Highly recommend everyone check out The Irish Bra Lady on Instagram for photos of common mis-sizes and what each size actually looks like. Something like 90% of women are in a bra with too large of a band and too small of a cup. has an awesome calculator where you can get an estimate of your true size with a few measurements. It changed my life and alleviated all of my back pain. (There might be some serious sticker shock!)

        Victoria Secret stuffs all the small busted ladies into 32As and all the big busted ladies into 38DD because it’s cheaper to offer fewer sizes. They are a scourge to all women! A lot of “32As” are actually more like 28DD and the “36DDs” are actually like 32F.

      • Shawna says:

        @Kebbie – going to check out those links. Thanks!

      • Flower says:

        @Kebbie agreed – I’m pretty good at doing my own measurements now but previously would use the Selfridges bra service.

        Previous to that for years I was convinced I was a 34C and it wasn’t until I was properly measured that I was told I was a 32F.

        Now I get re-measured every time I stock up on my every day bras on a yearly basis (Black Friday is actually a fantastic time to stock up as there are great discounts).

        Also if I get discomfort from a bra or the straps are problematic digging in despite being the ‘right’ size I will take it back so the manufacturer knows. Selfridges are also good about letting you get a refund or a new bra.

    • LadyMTL says:

      I will admit to not necessarily washing my bra after every wear but that’s only if I’ve had it on for a very short period of time (eg. 30 minutes to get to the drugstore and back, if I haven’t been sweating.) Otherwise it goes in a lingerie bag and in with my cold water wash.

      I do wish that bras were cheaper; I was actually looking to get some new ones and the average prices were all around $50-60 each! And I’m not particularly large-chested or hard to fit, but yeah. Needless to say I’ll wait for sales.

  4. GreenEyes says:

    I wash my bras on handwash or delicate cycle in a delicate garment bag after each wear. My bras are not cheap either… but OCD along w/ high infection risks due to colonization in system and soo many allergies I don’t risk chancing it. Any clothing, if it’s not fresh I don’t wear it til
    It is. My mom always instilled clean clothes and undergarments so that is a huge part of my OCD.

  5. Izzy says:

    I don’t wear a bra more than twice before washing it, and I handwash them. I find they last longer that way, especially because they are underwire.

  6. Shannon says:

    About 10 years ago I bought my mom some mesh bra washing bags because the metal in her underwire bras would constantly poke out of her bras. She would try to sew or crazy glue them back in but those were not solutions. Since then, she’s only thrown out a few due to wear or fit. It’s saved her hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

    • Kebbie says:

      Not sure if it applies to your mom, but the same thing used to happen to me when I was wearing the wrong size. Or I’d snap the underwire in half. I needed a smaller band and larger cup. I haven’t had any run away or broken underwires since I started wearing the correct size.

  7. Hannah says:

    I have a bucket next to the shower, cold water, a little bit of Persil washing powder and I chuck my bra in there at night after wk (to soak) when I shower before bed, quick hand rinse in the bucket in the morning with a drop of vinegar to kill bacteria (especially my sweaty gym & running bras) scrunch it in a towel to get rid of dripping water and leave out to dry

    No machine wash, no tumble dryer

    I do gently wash my bras after each use though

    • Kebbie says:

      I also wash mine in a bucket by the shower with a little laundry soap. I rinse with the shower head then hang them to dry (bent over a hanger at the gore so I don’t stretch the straps or band!) I hang them up at night and they’re dry by morning. They’re too expensive to toss in the wash!

  8. Kirsten says:

    I just stopped wearing bras. Problem solved.

    • Seraphina says:

      LOL, I am thinking of doing the same thing – but being a C cup and having breast fed a bit and being over 45…….I think I am doing others a favor by wearing one.

      • Kirsten says:

        I’m in my 40s and a C cup also — you can totally do it, no one cares or even notices. I feel like it’s mostly a thing that we’ve always been told people will be aghast at?

    • nisa says:

      Kirsten, ikr?? In fairness, I had a mastectomy/reconstruction so “the girls” are fine without one. Seriously though, this post has me thinking I need to revisit my bra washing routine!

  9. SKE says:

    I wear sports bras most of the time when I wear them at all. I have some bras that I can’t remember the last time I washed them, but they also don’t get worn more than once a month for an hour or two at a time, to go to an event or something. plus I’m very small-breasted so I don’t have folds that sweat. The minute I sweat though, then something gets washed.

  10. teehee says:

    My rule:

    Depending on the wear.
    If I got nervous, had stress, or its hot, I can wash it right away after a rough day wearing a synthetics blouse, for ex (shoo!).
    If its winter, I had it on a short time only, or it was an easy day, I can re-wear it a few times (still smells clean).

    Nothing wrong with this approach.

    Extremes of any kind is not healthy and I think overwashing is also wasteful. It should be done as necessary.

  11. Faithmobile says:

    Breastfeeding has taught me a lot about boob health. I wear a cotton sports bras at home or under bulky clothes. If I go out I put an underwire free bra over my sports bras. As a 40F I’ve been doubling up for years to get lift and support without synthetic fabric touching my skin.
    My cotton bras get washed in hot water with the soak setting and deep water rinse and a hot dryer. Adding vinegar, baking soda and laundry softeners interferes with your detergent’s enzymes. (Source:love laundry and science) Just because you are washing your bras doesn’t mean they are getting clean.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Are these cotton blend bras? I ask because, well, hot water usually shrinks cotton. Or maybe your bras a pre-shrunk cotton? I try not to use hot water on any natural fabrics. Actually, I use cold water all the time, based on past mistakes.

  12. tealily says:

    I have a couple that I swap out and I wash them all every week or two, or more frequently if I sweat or notice that they smell bad. I wish I could just stop wearing them entirely, but that isn’t comfortable either.

  13. Mel says:

    I wash after 5 wears. You should not wear the same bra two days in a row. You should have at least 3-5 bras that you wear on rotation. Fill a basin/sink with cool water add detergent then your bra. Agitate and soak for an hour or two, scrub any stains , then rinse with cool water until there are no signs of detergent . Lie flat to dry.

  14. Snarkle says:

    As a breast cancer survivor , I see more danger in the material of the bras themselves and the chemicals we use to clean them than I do with dirt and sweat. Most bras are made with highly toxic chemicals, forever plastics, etc. and most laundry detergent are made with the same and hormone disrupters. Then we attach them to one of the most sensitive parts of our warm bodies and all those hormone regulated breast cells are being poisoned all day long. I know we already have a million things to worry about, but thought this was important to add to a discussion on bra/breast wellness. You can look into organic bras but most important is to use organic/clean soap/detergent when washing regularly

    Side note: We wear shoes hundreds of times , wash our feet, and wear again. How are we so obsessed with showering and washing everything but we never freak out about how gross shoes are? 🙂

    • Seraphina says:

      Shoes are very gross. And I grew up with the cultural expectation to leave shoes at doors and I continued that in my own home. I cringe when I see a contractor or a repair man walk upstairs (carpeted) in their work shoes. Thankfully, the downstairs is hardwood and I can mop.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Interesting side note! Dunno! 🤷‍♀️. Is it because of the socks, so they act as a buffer between unwashed shoe & clean foot? Is it because shoes used to be primarily leather, which breathed, unlike created materials, which don’t?

  15. Nanny to the Rescue says:

    I wash them at need. So sometimes it will be after one wear (for example in the summer if I have to run through town and I’m hot and sweaty), sometimes it will be after like 3 weeks (but I also rotate bras and don’t wear them at home, so they are generally less worn than socks and knickers). In other words, I treat them more like tank tops than panties.

    • Anne says:

      Agree. I wash them when smelly or dirty or I just feel like it has been awhile. Never had a issue. Maybe after 6 wears. I spent most of my day in bralettes that I wash often though.

    • tealily says:

      That’s a good point. Mine come off the second I walk in the door after work. They get about 9 hours of wear per day.

  16. maisie says:

    my mother yelled at us if ours were what she called “tattletale gray” when they were worn too many times between washings. None of us girls were busty-I never really needed to wear one. but it’s a reason I don’t buy them in white. or panties. EVER.

  17. Myeh says:

    If you live in the PNW and have a huge cup size and comically large bras then you’ll have an entire room dedicated to a drying rack where hand washed bras and sports bras take 3 to 4 days to air dry. Currently have 2 multi tiered drying racks for flat drying since I go through a minimum of 2 sports bras and a regular bra daily. I miss the pandemic days of isolation and ditching the work, workout bras so much

  18. Emster says:

    Hear me out: I hand wash them every few wears in the shower with Dove soap. Sometimes keep a plastic bin in there and let it soak for a while. Then hang them up to dry in the shower.

  19. Anonymous says:

    When I wore actual structured bras, I usually washed them every 2 wears, but would give the elastics a rest for a day between wears. But now that I wear bralettes, I wash them every wear.

  20. Berkeleyfarm says:

    Yeah this is kind of wild.

    My rule of thumb is:

    wear for 1 day, leave off at least 1 day, wear again, wash – unless I got super sweaty.

    I hand wash everything that isn’t my bralettes that explicitly say “machine wash low line dry”. And if I wear something wired during the day it comes off at night for something else.

    I don’t wear the “t shirt” or super lined bras so they dry out overnight just fine over the rim of the tub. If I did, I’d see about getting a drying rack (my sports bra does take longer to dry).

    I have been the same size for a while so have several I can rotate. They have lasted me a good long time with this care.

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