How to Wash Your Sports Bra

Two women in sports bras sit on a bench laughing.
A woman runs in a sports bra and shorts.

The Best Way to Wash Your Sports Bra

Proper hygiene is important—in life and in sports bras.

Keeping your bras fresh will let them support you for longer and make your runs more comfortable.

In general, secure any loose ends—hook-and-eye closures or Velcro straps—and place your bras in a mesh lingerie bag before dunking them in the washer. Set the machine to wash with cold water and use a sports-specific laundry detergent, which is designed to remove sweat, body oils and funk from fabrics better than an all-purpose detergent.

When the wash cycle ends, pull your bras out and hang them to dry.

Next-level care: Hand wash your sports bras and hang them to dry. The gentler (though more hands-on) method will keep your bras happier for longer.

Can You Wear a Sports Bra More Than Once Between Washes?

Some things work better when you don’t put them through the washer: Cast iron skillets, suede jackets, your fancy smartphone.

Your bra is not one of those things. But you might not need to wash it as much as you think.

If you’re a runner, you are going to sweat in your sports bra, and it might take a dunk in a pool or in the ocean, especially if you’re training for a triathlon. Here are some tips for how frequently you should toss it in the washing machine.

  • Give it a sniff. If you wore your sports bra on Monday but on Wednesday it still doesn’t smell like a gym bag, you can probably wear it again before putting it through the spin cycle. Fewer washes mean a longer life. If it’s stinky, though, give it a wash.
  • Taking a dip? Chlorine from a pool and saltwater from the ocean—not to mention sunscreens and tanning oils—could affect your bras differently than sweat alone. You should wash your bra each time it goes for a swim to keep it in top shape.

How to Extend the Life of Your Sports Bras

When you find a sports bra that fits well, you want to hang on to it. And let's face it, good sports bras aren’t exactly cheap, so you don’t want to have to replace them early because you didn’t take care of them properly.

To keep you sports bras on the road:

  • Keep your bras out of the dryer. The high heat of a clothes dryer can ruin the band, which is the most supportive part of your bra. So, always hang them to dry after washing them properly.
  • Own several bras. Rotating your bras will reduce the strain on all of them. You should have a minimum of three bras: One to wear on your workout, one that’s in the wash and one that’s clean and waiting in your drawer for whatever adventure comes next.
A runner wearing a sports bra starts her watch before a run.

But your sports bra will eventually wear out no matter how well you take care of it. Look for these signs to tell when you need to replace your sports bra:

  • Loose straps. Your bra’s straps use elastic to support you. If the straps are loose and sliding around, it’s probably time to replace your bra.
  • Loose band. Like the straps, if your bra’s band is loose and causing chafing, buy a new one.
  • Changes in color. Another sign of a bra’s age is a noticeable color change. Look for a new bra if the color of yours is faded, dull or yellow-ish,
  • Fraying. Retire your bra if it shows any signs of fraying or any of the clasps or other hardware is exposed.

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