How To Wash, Dry & Care for Your Bras

bras hanging on clothes hangers

No matter how comfortable your favorite bra or compression top is, it is important to know when and how to wash it. Washing your bras is not only good for your bra but also for your health and well-being. 

For best results, you’ll need to establish a wash routine that sets you and your bra up for success. Ideally, a bra should be washed after every two or three wearings. It’s easy to overlook this number when it’s an item that we often wear multiple times in a row and sometimes forget to take off. 

Learning how to wash and take care of your bras properly is crucial to their longevity and quality. It’s not the most glamorous task in the world by any means, but it’s definitely something that needs to be done.

Is it as simple as tossing it in the washing machine and dryer? 

Well, yes and no. We’ve reviewed the professional recommendations for how to properly wash, dry, and care for your bras and reworked them into this easy-to-follow guide. Read on for everything you need to know about washing, drying, and caring for your favorite bras.

How To Hand-Wash Bras

Believe it or not, hand-washing your bras is the best way to clean them and keep them in pristine condition. Any liquid detergent or mild wash detergent will work best for washing your bras as long as your bra isn’t made out of wool or silk. 

It should only take a few minutes to hand-wash your bras. On the other hand, a washing machine can take up to 90 minutes — depending on the brand of washing machine you own. That’s not to say a washing machine is a terrible option, but if you can hand-wash a bra, you might save time.

Here are five steps to easily hand-wash a bra.

Fill a Bowl With Cold Water and Detergent

First, fill a bowl with cold water and gentle detergent. To conserve water (and stay as mess-free as possible), try filling up a bowl rather than your entire sink. 

Mix in the detergent to make the cold water nice and soapy, and make sure that everything is mixed and dissolved altogether. Hot water has the tendency to set stains, so cold water will usually be your friend when washing delicates. 


Next, simply add your bras to the soapy water. 

Like any other time you are doing laundry, separate the lights from the darks when washing your bras. Even when you’re hand washing, the colors can run together, so keep that in mind. 

Let Them Soak

This is the easiest part of the whole process. Simply leave the bras alone in the water. Set a timer for about ten to 15 minutes or even up to an hour. The
“care instructions” tag on your bra should provide this information.

Let the bras soak in the soapiness to make them fresh and new. 

Agitate the Bras

Now, it’s time to swish and swirl each bra in the water to release dirt and grime.

The water should get pretty murky at this point as you gently agitate the bras in the water to thoroughly clean them. Remember that bras are delicate, so try to be both gentle and firm.


Next, run each bra under cold water until the water in the sink runs clear. 

These simple steps work for hand washing any clothing or garments as well, not only bras. Use this simple five-step guide next time you want to hand wash your bras and wash them well and thoroughly. 

How Do You Wash Bras With a Salad Spinner?

Washing and drying your delicates in a salad spinner may seem like a crazy idea — but it's also crazy effective. Fill the salad spinner with warm water and a drop of detergent. Soak the bra in the soapy water and let it sit for ten minutes or so. 

Next, rotate the salad spinner to get all the gunk out of the bras. Dump the dirty water, rinse and repeat until you have your desired results. 

Are Sports or Activewear Bras Any Different? 

Washing a sports bra isn’t too different than washing any other kind. The most significant difference in an activewear bra’s care instructions is that you should probably wash it after every use.

You get active and move in a sports bra. Therefore, it may carry some hidden dirt, grime, and sweat from workouts. Just to play it safe, it's not a bad idea to wash these bras after every use. 

When in doubt, check the labels for care instructions. For example, with a sports bra like our Racerback Soft Bra, you can machine wash on cold and tumble dry on low for best results.

How To Wash Fancier Lingerie

If you’ve got some more expensive or fancier lingerie, hand-washing is still a good idea. One main difference is that you may want to use a lingerie bag. 

A lingerie bag is basically a tiny mesh bag that helps bras keep their shape and keeps delicate materials from getting damaged in the washing machine. 

When all is said and done, simply take your bra out of the lingerie bag and let it air dry. These lingerie bags are for more than fancy lingerie; it also works if you wear a bra with an underwire or other form of support. It never hurts to have one of these on hand for all your bra-washing needs!

How Do You Dry Bras?

The best way to dry your bras is by hanging them up. Some say hang-drying is the best way to dry any of your clothes, but that’s still up for debate.

Here’s how to hang-dry your bras for best results:

To Wring or Not To Wring?

When drying bras, never aggressively wring out the water before drying. This not only encourages wrinkles in your bra, but it will also speed up the deteriorating process. Instead, gently pat the bra with a clean towel before hanging, and then reshape the cups after drying. 

Air-Dry for a Long-Lasting Bra

Throwing your bras in a mechanical dryer isn’t going to destroy your bras by any means — but it could just roughhouse them a little bit. 

That’s why air drying is the best way to ensure that your bra stays in shape for many years to come. When air drying, there are two solid options to try. The first method is to lay your bra flat out on a drying rack. This step helps the bra keep its shape and alleviates stress on the bra overall. 

Another drying option is to hang your bra on a hanger or clothes rack to dry. Both of these methods help distribute the weight of the bra so that it doesn't get misshapen or end up becoming stretched. 

Why Skip the Dryer?

The roughness of the dryer could twist or bend the original shape of the bra, making it less reliable and causing it to wear down faster. Using a dryer won’t inherently “destroy” a bra, but it may cause it to fade and wear. If you can help it, hang your bra to dry to avoid any and all damage. 

How Do You Care for Bras? 

You can wash and wash your bras all you want, but you’ll still need regular care and maintenance to keep them in tip-top shape. Your bras will thank you for the extra TLC you provide after a bath! 

Care includes how you store your bras after washing and drying them. It may be tempting to stuff them in your drawers quickly, but there is a way better method for storing your bras after they are washed and dried.

Focus on stacking bras one on top of another instead of smashing them into a basket or cubby. Stacking also ensures that your bras will stay cupped and perfectly shaped. 

Final Pointers: Bra Washing

Some final pointers to keep in mind are:

  • Reshape your bra while it is wet
  • Wash your bras at least after two or three washes
  • If you are unable to hand wash, choose a low spin cycle for your washing machine. Choose a lower temperature for your washer as well.
  • Avoid detergents or soaps that have bleach in them — unless you want to DIY tie-dye your bras. To each their own! 
  • Always hook your bras on cleaning day if you are using a machine washer. This helps the bras avoid getting hooked and stuck on other items in your washing machine.
  • Double-check how they smell after cleaning. You may need to wash out your washer or dryer.

With these tips and pointers, you’re unstoppable. Now, all you need is a soft, comfy bra to rock while you’re working out or hanging out at home. We have you covered there.


How to wash bras: Hand and machine washing | CNN Underscored

7 ways you are ruining your bras without even realizing it | Insider

How to Wash Bras | Reviews by Wirecutter| NY Times