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Delicate Care Tips to Extend the Lifespan of Your Bras

Be delicate with your delicates.

Senior Home and Style Editor
Bra with mesh bag
Photography by: Lucy Schaeffer
Bra: Blush Lace Bra, Aerie Day To Play Pushup Bra, $49.95, aerie.com Mesh Bag: Fine Mesh White Micro Mesh Wash Bags, $11.99 for 3, containerstore.com

Bras are the hardest-working garments in your wardrobe. What other item supports you day in and day out, ensuring you have the good posture to confidently stride into boardrooms and date night like a boss? Bras have your back -- literally. We spoke to Luz Cuevas, chief lingerie stylist at Rigby & Peller, for some expert advice on keeping them looking and working their best.

 

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU WASH YOUR BRAS?

This depends on how many bras are in your arsenal. Before we can even dive in here, we must emphasize a cardinal rule: Never wear the same bra two days in a row. “When you let your bra sit for one day, it allows the elasticity to shoot back into the band, prolonging the life,” says Cuevas. That said, the more bras you have in rotation, the longer you can prolong the wash. Cuevas recommends having a few bras that you can rotate. “So if a woman has three bras that she rotates (just never two days in a row), she can go three to four wears before washing,” says the expert. Of course, you’ll wash more often during the sweaty days of summer.

 

THE BEST THE WAY TO WASH A BRA

As with all things beautiful, the best way to wash your intimates is by hand, says Cuevas. Fill your sink with lukewarm water, add a tiny amount of a mild detergent, submerge your bras, give ‘em a swish and let them soak for 20 minutes. Drain and rinse.

 

[LEARN THE: Golden Rules of Washing Delicates like Silk, Wool, and Lingerie]

 

THE SAFEST WAY TO WASH BRAS IN A WASHING MACHINE

If you’re too busy to hand wash, there’s no shame in using the washing machine, says Cuevas — you just need to take a few precautions. First, place your intimates in a lingerie bag. “They’re a lifesaver for your bras,” she says. This prevents straps from getting wrapped around, say, a shirt sleeve and stretching out. Then select a gentle cycle, use cold water and a detergent designed for delicates. Another tip: “Hook the band of each bra so it doesn’t tangle and twist in the machine.”

 

[HOW TO: Wash Sweaters and Delicates]

 

HOW TO DRY BRAS

While you get a pass with the washing machine, “you are definitely not putting bras in the dryer,” stresses Cuevas. Even on low heat, dryers can warp the underwire in bras and damage the elastic in bands. Instead, very gently press out any excess water --  never wring -- and let your bras air dry by laying them flat on a towel or hanging them on a hanger or drying rack. But don’t hang a bra by its straps -- the weight of the wet fabric will cause the straps to stretch out.

 

Keep bras -- and all other delicates! -- in tip-top shape with this guide to organizing your underwear drawer: 

The best detergent for bras

Ordinary detergents break fibers in your pretty lacy undergarments and destroy the elasticity in the band, so use a soap that's specially formulated for delicates. At Rigby and Peller, Forever New is a favorite. “It actually maintains elasticity in the band,” says Cuevas. “It makes your bra feel like it’s new.” Bonus: You can also use it on your nylons, leggings, swimwear, and any other garment that stretches.

 

 

Bras in drawer with dividers
Photography by: Lucy Schaeffer
Front to back: 1. White Bra, Available at TJ Maxx stores and tjmxx.com 2. Aerie, Aerie Sunnie Pushup Bra, $54.95, aerie.com 3. White with Black Lace bra, tjmaxx.com 4. Solid Pink BraAerie, Aerie Sunnie Pushup Bra, $54.95, aerie.com 5. Orange Bralette, Aerie Triangle Bralette, $29.95, aerie.com 6. Blush Lace Bra, Aerie Day To Play Pushup Bra, $49.95, aerie.com Linen 3-Section Drawer Organizer, $19.99, containerstore.com

The right way you store your bras

Contrary to popular belief, you should not fold your bras in half and tuck one cup into the other, says Cuevas, save for all-lace bras. For the rest, lay them nice and flat so they retain their shape.

 

THE LIFESPAN OF A BRA

The band is a great indicator on how much life your bra has left. If you’re wearing the right size and your band starts riding up, it means your band has stretched, and you can move the hook all the way to the tightest. But if it’s riding up to the extreme, “it’s just time for a new bra,” says Cuevas.

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