Following from our earlier blog about how many bras the average women owns; a study showed that the average woman spends £4,000 on bras in her lifetime, and owns between 8 and 16 bras at any given time. I just did a quick inventory of my own lingerie drawer, and it turned out I own 29 - although I actually wear just “handful” of them regularly. "The study showed women spend about £4,000 on bras during their lifetime," the article says. "On average, they own 16 at any one time, topping up their collection with four purchases each year."
The article reveals that while we women have enough bras to go at least two weeks without doing laundry, on average we wash them only every two months. "They wear a bra around seven times in two months before washing it, ignoring common stains such as perfume, body lotion, fake tan and sweat." Yuk! But we can’t say we’re too surprised to hear this.
I'm pretty good about keeping my unmentionables in mentionable-worthy condition but we should know better of course. When a survey came out about lingerie washing on MumsNet the general consensus was "when I get around to it." And with one Mum revealing how it is often the laundry that falls to the bottom of her to-do list. With her “...outerwear, husbands clothing and childrenswear taking priority” admitting she only washes her three bras once a month."
Proper washing and care prongs bra life
When it comes to clothing hygiene, bras top the list of things you know you should be washing more frequently than you do. One, the process of washing them isn't as easy as tossing them in the washer like virtually all of us do, and two, it's almost impossible to tell how dirty they really are.
That leads us to another laundry debate: How often should you wash your bras? Surely bras aren't like jeans, where you should wait as long as possible before washing them. But they're also not like knickers, where daily washing is a no-brainer.
How Often Should You Wash Your Bra?
Here at Mysmartypants and on the back of information from our leading lingerie brands, we recommend every other wear, or by the third, maximum. The reason?
The main thing you're trying to do is keep the integrity of the bra for as long as possible. When you're wearing a bra for 10 to 12 hours a day, the garment not only collects oils from your skin and deodorant, but the elastic stretches and loses its form through wear. When you're investing anywhere from £30 to £130 for a quality bra, you need consistent care to maximize your investment.
What's the best way to wash an underwire bra?
Although such frequent bra washing sounds overwhelming, Joanne assures that routine cleaning quickly becomes second nature over time. And as for methodology, there's only one way and that’s hand-wash only. Unlike most other clothing, bras contain 35 to 40 pieces, as well as metal, which can quickly degrade in the washing machine. Instead, we suggest you opt for a delicate low suds detergent such as Ecover Delicate Laundry Wash (around £5 from supermarkets) or splurge on the award winning industry recommended Soak (£18.95; from lingerie specialist stores and a number of online retailers), and gently wash, not wring, in the bathroom sink for four to five minutes before hanging on the shower rod or towel rack to dry overnight.
How to wash your bra in a washing machine
However, if you can’t bring yourself to convert to hand washing you can machine-wash bras on a gentle cycle if you have a mesh washing bag (click here to see our wash bags) to protect them from snagging and tears (remember to use cold water and close the clasps first!). But no matter what, never machine or tumble dry. Most damage to the fibers and elasticity actually happens in the hot dryer since the high heat will reduce the fabric's elasticity and distort padding and straps. Always try to hang-dry instead.
A word of caution though on caring for your bra
Refunds are not offered on bras that are damaged or appear to be faulty if they have been washed in the machine (the majority are labelled clearly as ‘Hand Wash Only’). And this goes for the majority of lingerie stores out there online or on the high street. Also one of the most common causes of damage to a washing machine drum is a rogue bra wire.
Tell me girls, do you find the results of this study to be true to your own habits? How many bras do you have? How many of them do you actually wear? And do they have a hard time finding their way to the laundry? Share!