How often do you wash your bras? Once a week? Once a month? Whenever you happen to remember?
As it turns out, there's actually a recommended timeline for washing your bra: every. single. day. Or at least every time you wear it.
I know it sounds excessive, but you have to think about what the definition of a "wear" is.
Lexie Sachs, product analyst in the Textiles Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, lays it out pretty easily.
"If you're outside on a humid day and end up sweating a lot, you'll want to wash your bra sooner. On the other hand, if you throw a bra on for a couple hours, that might not count as a 'wear.' Washing gets rid of the oils and germs that accumulate, so the more oil you're producing, the more frequently you'll need to launder your bra," she says.
A lot of people think bras are like jeans, in that you really only have to wash them if they get a noticeable stain on them or start to smell. However, not washing your bra has some seriously gross consequences.
1. Chaffed Nipples
The thought alone makes me cringe, but chaffed nipples is a real possibility if you wear the same bra for a while without washing it.
When dry skin comes in contact with sweaty undergarments, it causes irritation on one of the most sensitive parts of your body. Dr. Robin Travers, a dermatologist, says that even a tiny amount of moisture getting in between dirty fabrics and your sensitive areas can cause serious chaffing.
No thank you.
No, it's not just for your face! Breast acne is a real thing, and it's caused by dirty bras.
Sweaty and dirty bras, like sports bras or the ones you wear all the time, trap bacteria and dirty close to your skin, which triggers the development of acne.
"Backne" and zits along your rib cage are what you can expect if you're not washing your bras frequently enough.
Zits and chaffing are one thing, but it's a whole other problem when your dirty bras begin to leave open wounds. Yes, you heard me.
Bacteria and yeast love hanging out in your bra, because it's warm and dark in there. The particles end up multiplying, which can then lead to a rash.
If you itch the rash, or even if you don't, it can cause open wound on your back, under your breasts, or on your rib cage. This leaves your body susceptible to infections, because don't forget, those bras are full of bacteria.
4. Stuff Grows
If the potential for infections wasn't enough to get you to start washing your bra more regularly, maybe this will be.
The moist environment of a sweaty bra is the perfect place for microorganisms, yeast, bacteria, and even fungi to grow. This can be potentially harmful to your body over time, especially if you do end up developing a rash.
5. You'll Stink
In case you didn't know, bacteria, yeast, fungi, and sweat are smelly. When all those things join forces and start throwing a panty party on your bra, it's only a matter of time before it reeks.
You may not notice the smell, but other people probably do. It's only a matter of time before that smell migrates onto your other clothing, and it will also transfer the bacteria and dirt to your shirt.
6. It'll Stain
I don't know about you, but I'm not spending $50+ on a bra only to stain it. Deodorant helps you from smelling, but it leaves stains on your undergarments. Sweat can also discolor the color of your bra if it sits too long without being washed.
If you do have a sweat stain on your bra, mix some baking soda with water and rub it on the stain before putting it in the washing machine!
So if you need to start washing your bras more often, these are some tips.
1. Lingerie Bag
You can't just throw your bra into the washing machine by itself. The material is delicate and it can easily be ruined by other items of clothing.
Getting a lingerie bag for your bras is a great idea, as you can still put them in the wash but you don't have to worry about them getting damaged.
2. Hand Wash
If you don't want to run a load of laundry every time you need to wash your bra, you can give them a good wash by hand in the sink.
In lukewarm water, use a gentle detergent and rub the fabric together. You can let it soak for up to an hour for a deep clean. Rinse the bra in cold water until the water runs clear.
Lay the bra on a flat towel to dry.
3. Machine Wash
If you don't have a lingerie bag, and you don't feel like hand-washing your bras, you can still put them in for a delicate cycle in your washing machine. Make sure the other things in with your undergarments aren't too heavy, though!
Hook the backs of your bras so they don't get tangled with anything else, as this can deform them. Once the wash is done, reshape any molded-cup bras.
NEVER put your bras in the dryer, as the heat will break down the elasticity of the garment.