People with breasts, rejoice: science says to stop washing your bras all the time

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If you're one of the three women in Australia who actually washes her bras after every wear, you're going to want to pay attention to this story – you're about to be liberated. For the rest of us, we have vindication at last.

The Good Housekeeping Institute (yes, it's a real thing, and although it feels a little bit like the 'Pond's Institute', I'm rolling with it) has announced that we only need to be washing our bras after we've worn them "several times".

Now this in itself is exciting. Not that it will change my behaviour in any way, but I feel somehow less disgusting for only including my few bras that still have the underwire on the inside in the wash whenever I get around to it.

But I wanted more clarity. How many times is "several"?

I asked the Oxford Dictionary to define "several", and it told me it means "more than two but not many". So I asked it to define "many", and it said "a large number of".

So gosh, that really leaves it up to the individual, doesn't it? I'm happy to go out on my own personal limb here and believe that what the Good Housekeeping Institute is saying is that we need to wash our bras after between two and 999 wears.

But it gets better. Not only do we not need to wash our bras after every wash, but Lexie Sachs, senior product analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute – AKA every woman's new best friend – says you actually shouldn't wash your bra after every wear.

Even if you're one of those organised people that puts their bras in a special zippy bag when you wash them, they will still lose their shape and elasticity a little bit with each wash, so beware.

Lexie Sachs says, "Every few wears should be sufficient, but it does depend on your activity level. For instance, 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 of 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."


Makes sense, right? If you've popped on something lacy and pretty for cocktail hour, it can probably go straight back in the drawer. But if you've just done a spin class in the middle of December with your bike on 10 the entire time, you might want to skip the extra wears.

It's common sense, really. If the bra makes you smell like a cavewoman, you might want to consider washing it. Or at least hanging it up to air for a while.

Sachs also says we shouldn't worry too much about bra rotation. Which is a relief, because I've never worried about it at all. I didn't know that was a thing until this very moment.

"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," she says. "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 12 hours, waiting an extra day won't make a big difference."


Of course we should hand wash our bras in unicorn tears and lay them to dry flat on an ancient boulder in dappled sunlight after a full moon, but if we insist on being slack about it, we should definitely use a mesh bag in the washing machine and not throw them in the dryer because it destroys the elastic.

And because we only have to do it every two to 999 wears, that all sounds quote doable.