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Rules For How Many Times You Can Wear a Bra Without Washing It

Photograph by Twenty20

For some women (not naming names. OK: me), there is one article of clothing that gets more attention than any other in our wardrobe. We call this item my favorite bra, and washing it daily is not always an option.

But how often should we purge our beloved unmentionables into the laundry cycle? Every week? Once a month? How about when it grows legs and starts to walk on its own?

Why didn't someone sit us down after we put on our first AAA trainer and give us the rules all those years ago. Are there even rules?

Yes, yes there are rules. According to Lexie Sachs, a senior product analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab, the rules for washing bras depends on the climate in which you wear that bra and also your activity level.

The rule of thumb when it comes to bra sanitation is to wash them after they've been worn several times. Unless, of course, it's a sports bra that has been put to good use, in which case please wash after each wearing.

And in all cases after washing, lay your bras flat to dry.

"You want to wash it just as you would with another type of clothing you would wear, but if you aren’t sweating a lot and wearing for regular use you can do it every few wears."

Sachs goes on to describe the importance of proper care and why we should never use the dryer, because, apparently, some of you are doing this. YOU'RE DRYING YOUR BRAS, how could you?

"Heat and agitation of a dryer can damage the bra's elasticity and shape, and hanging it can cause stretching."

Oh, OK.

Additionally, Sachs points out, "You should have several bras to rotate through to avoid stressing elastic over time, but wearing the same bra two days in a row isn't an issue. Taking it off at night should allow plenty of time for it to recover its shape and elasticity. If it can't do that in eight to twelve hours, waiting an extra day won't make a big difference."

She also recommends placing bras in a mesh washing machine-safe bag when cleaning.

"Mesh bags also help prevent bra hooks from snagging other garments," Sachs adds. "But also hook the bra before you throw it in the wash, and consider a mild detergent, like Woolite, since it'll be more gentle on the fabric."

Enough already. Raise your hand if you aren't already doing these things? Isn't that why they refer to these items as delicates? So that we will be more careful when handling?

Though this may not come as news to those already waiving their 28th Amendment right, "Thou shalt not launder daily," it does offer a modest consolation to women in general. Sometimes, it just helps to know that you're not alone, that you're not the only one walking around with toast crumbs tumbling around in a delicately laced brassiere while sizing up the single women at the Starbucks counter—you know, the one without kids.

So, loosen up (that dirty bra) and relish in the fact that experts agree. They have taken the guilt stain out of laundry and given us one more day to breathe in the freedom and prance around in our favorite—and most hated—accessory: Le soutien-gorge, otherwise known as the bra.

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