So how often do you wash or change your brassiere or bra? Once in a month? Or do you have that habit of wearing this ‘good’ or ‘lucky’ bra you like so much that you cannot remember the last time you washed it?
“I wash my bra after every wear because I sweat a lot,” says Nana Aba, a journalist. For Agoe and Naana, both public servants, they wash their bras after wearing them three or four times in a week. However, Adzo, a 36-year-old self-employed, has no idea how long it takes for her to wash that vital undergarment.
Come to think of it, a bra is one undergarment most women forget or have no idea how often it should be washed or changed. Unlike a panties which is washed after every wear, most women are either not sure or simply overlook it because they cannot really tell how dirty it is.
Even bra fit, fashion and health experts are divided on how often you should wash your bra.
While some recommend that bras be washed every one to two weeks, others say it should be after each or every two to three wears.
“I would recommend washing after each use as this keeps your bra clean and fresh,” says Julia Mercer in an interview with Metro.co.uk.
Laundry expert, Mary Marlowe Leverette, agrees with the same rule and says that a bra should be washed after every wear, since it is directly in contact with the body.
However, Leverette adds that “if you wear a bra for only an hour or so and if you’re not perspiring or don’t have oily skin, you can wear the bra a couple of times before washing.”
A ‘wear’ can be confusing for many people so what exactly is ‘a wear’ for a bra? Dermatologist Alok Vij breaks it down thus: “A few hours with a bra on with minimal sweating might not count as a full ‘wear’. But a few hours with heavy sweating could count as a double — or triple — wear.”
How often you wash your bras also depends on how many bras you have and how often you wear them. It is also dependent on the climate you live in.
For instance, if you live in a hot climate, as it is here in Ghana, then it stands to reason that you may sweat a lot and hence you have to wash or change your bras often as compared to someone who lives in a cold climate.
A Professional Image Consultant and founder of Kobadem Image Training Institute, Mrs Emma Addo-Owusu, shares similar sentiment and says: “If for example, the activities you engage in do not entail excessive sweating, then it is okay to wear your bra twice before washing. If you are engaged in activities that involve heavy sweating, it is best that you change your bra daily. Washing of bras can take place after two or three wears.”
Mrs Addo-Owusu said dirty bras had a tendency of leaving a pungent smell on the skin and on the clothes one wore.
She explained that the body secreted its own body oils which clung to the bra. Apart from that bacteria, dirt and sweat on the skin also clung to the bra.
All those, she said, were absorbed by the bra giving it a stale smell.
“That is why some ladies after wearing their bra can still perceive some odour emanating from their clothes caused by the wearing of dirty bras. This can also affect the self-confidence of some ladies as they may feel that others can also perceive the odour emanating from the bra,” she added.
Experts say if you continue to wear a dirty bra, the dirt will rub on your skin and cause irritation.
In order to keep your bra healthy and clean it is important to balance the care of the fabric with the removal of skin debris, oils and sweat.
“All the dead skin cells, oils and sweat trapped under your bra make for a cesspool of bacteria and yeast,” says Dr Vij.
“Not washing frequently enough can lead to stains and persistent odours on the bra — as well as skin irritation, rashes or skin infections from yeast or bacteria,” he added.
Clean bra good for skin
Mrs Addo-Owusu said when a bra was clean, the quality of the bra would be maintained because the elasticity of the bra was also affected by the oils the body secrets.
She said oil and dirt absorbed by the bra damaged the fibres of the bras and, therefore, regular washing of the bra helped to remove these oils and dirt. A clean bra feels great on the skin too!
Dr Vij also notes that it is important to rotate bras so that the cups and straps can relax. That, he said, allowed bras to retain their shape and elasticity.
“Wearing a ‘lucky’ bra day in and day out will make it lose its shape more quickly,” he added.
Mrs Addo-Owusu gave the following tips for washing bras:
Soak your bra in detergent and warm water. Warm water is preferred as it helps break down the oils the bra has absorbed.
Leave soaked for 30 minutes and then wash by rubbing gently.
Rinse twice and you are good to go.
Do not hang bra to dry by their straps as this can damage the elasticity. It is best to let the bra air dry naturally.
Ultimately how often one washes bras depends on the individual and her lifestyle – you have to constantly check your bras. Is it looking a bit drab? Does it have a bad smell? Or you do not remember the last time you washed it? Then that is enough reason for you to toss it into the laundry basket.