How many wears before washing? How should I wash them? Should I always be in the middle hook? How often should I buy new bras? None of these questions has a simple answer.
There are so many theories on TV and in print to answer these questions and others. I can only give you my opinion based on my 48 years of professional bra experience.
The number of wears before washing a bra is a function of activity level. Generally the more sweat involved the more often a bra needs washing. Perspiration left over time can degrade the spandex. Overextended wear can permanently misshape the whole bra. When bras are soaked with perspiration either from hot weather or sports, they need washing–even if it’s every day. When the weather is cool and you’re not perspiring, every other day is fine. What’s never fine is never washing a bra. I had a customer who swore that if you didn’t wash a bra it would stay “new”. After a year, her bra looked bad, smelled bad and was so stretched out that it couldn’t support her!
Washing instructions on labels usually say hand wash, cold water, only non-chlorine bleach if needed and line dry. This works especially well if you use special lingerie wash or a product called Soak. They are both healthy for bras and shapers, but Soak doesn’t require rinsing out all the soap. You can usually, but not always, hook the bra, put it in a laundry bag, and wash in the machine on cold delicate cycle and line dry. Three dimensional bags are best for molded foam cups and padded bras. Also avoid fabric softener as it can cause straps and spandex yarns to slip. One customer brought back the same bra in three colors because her straps kept loosening. She was right. A slight tug and the straps slid to the loosest adjustment. She had just started using a fabric softener in her washing machine.
“Always” is a long time for a bra to be in the middle hook. The looser the hook that you can start in, the longer the bra will last. Bras stretch over time and need to be tightened as they age. You can’t, however, start looser than keeps your bras down in back or things get uncomfortable from the beginning. When you’re on the tightest and the back rides up, you probably need a new bra.
The exact number of bras you need depends on quality, care, size and frequency of wear. Better quality, not necessarily higher priced, bras cared for in an appropriate manner will last longer. Generally smaller sizes rather than fuller sizes, put less strain on bras allowing them to last longer. Black bras may be worn less frequently than nude and usually last longer. Estimate three garments a year and adjust for the situation.
So, there are no rules, only guidelines. Following guidelines will help you get more from your bras and yes, less business for me!