The Best Ways to Wash Sports Bras – Care Guide & Tips

Sports bras are different from regular bras in that they are specially made to reduce movement. How important are they when it comes to exercise? The answer is—very. As a matter of fact, it’s vital that you provide your breasts with adequate support during physical activity.

The Importance of Proper Support

Regardless of your cup size, your breasts will bounce up and down during physical activity. As funny as that may sound, it can seriously impact your health. After all, breasts have no muscle; without proper support, they can sag. Ultimately, this has to do with the fact that the breasts are made out of fatty tissue.

Unlike other parts of the body, the breasts have no muscle; there are only ligaments—ones that can be stretched or broken down. Considering this, sports bras are must-have for your workout wardrobe. Whether your breasts or big or small, you want to invest in something that will offer proper support. 

How are Sports Bras Different From Regular Bras?

There are several differences between sports bras and regular bras. For one thing, the former is designed for functionality. As a result, they tend to minimize the apparent size of the breasts; the opposite is true for regular bras.

Material-wise, they are also different. While regular bras are made out of cotton, nylon, and lace, sports bras are constructed out of synthetics such as Lycra, which draws moisture away from the skin.

Another thing that sets them apart is how often you need to wash them. Typically, regular bras can be worn up to a few times before needing to be washed. Of course, this depends on your personal hygiene. As a general rule, though, you don’t want to wash them too often—you want to keep the integrity of the bra, after all. At the end of the day, nobody wants to ruin the bras that they paid $50, or perhaps more, for. 

How Often Should You Clean Sports Bras?

Sports bras, however, are a different story. As you can imagine, they require more often washing than regular bras. For one thing, it’s not uncommon for them to be soaked with sweat after an intense workout. Not only would that lead to an unpleasant odor, but it could be bad for your health as well! In the end, it’s the sweat that attracts the bacteria and germs.

So, how often should you wash your sports bras? Ideally, you would want to wash them after a workout if you’ve broken a sweat. With dirty sports bras, there’s always a risk of skin irritation. To avoid that, you want to have them nice and clean for your next trip to the gym. 

Pro-tip: It’s always a good idea to have more than one sports bra on hand. That way, you won’t be restricted as to when you can toss it in the wash. Personally, I recommend having at least three; that will give you enough flexibility to do whatever you want with your washing schedule.

Pro-tip #2: Even if you can’t put them in the wash right away, you should always air out your sports bras by hanging it up. This is an important step as it will help to prevent odors from developing!

Can You Put Sports Bras in the Dryer?

As a general rule, you never want to put your sports bras in the dryer—that is probably the easiest way to ruin them! In fact, you should never put any type of bra in the dryer; doing so will stretch and damage the elasticity.

Having said that, many people still put their sports bras into the dryer. Unfortunately, this often stems from laziness. “What’s the easiest way to dry a bra? Pop them into the dryer, of course!” While your bra might come out looking fine, that doesn’t mean that damage hasn’t been done to the material. It will be too late when you finally notice that the elastic has gone loose!

Instead of putting your sports bras in the dryer, you should just allow them to air dry. You can do this by laying them flat or draping them over something like a drying rack. Luckily, most of them are made out of synthetic materials such as Lycra, which is known for drying quickly! In general, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of days for it to dry completely.

Pro-tip: If you want to quicken the drying process, use a clean towel to get rid of the extra moisture. You can do so by pressing the sports bra into the towel. Remember, you should never wring out the bra as that can damage the garment! You wouldn’t want the elastic to come loose, would you?

How to Wash a Sports Bra with Padding

There are two types of sports bras—ones with padding and ones without padding. Given the fact that there’s no pad, the latter tends to be more lightweight. Generally speaking, these types are best suited for low to medium level workouts. For instance, they are great for pilates and yoga!

For more intense workouts, however, you’ll want to go for a padded sports bra. Significantly sturdier, they come with removable pads that provides both comfort and support. More often than not, they will also make your breasts look fuller.

As great as they are, though, they can be a little challenging to wash. The problem typically lies with the pad—that is, they tend to come out when you put them in the washing machine. What’s the proper way to was padded sports bras?

The obvious answer is to hand wash them. By doing that, you won’t have to worry about the pads coming out of the bra. The first step then is to soak the sports bra in a tub or a sink of soapy water—for this, you can just add a bit of ACTIVE detergent into some warm water.

Lightly swirl the mixture around with your hands before putting the bra into the solution. Allow it to saturate thoroughly. For the best results, soak it for at least 15 minutes. From there, gently wash the sports bra in the solution—you can do this by massaging the fabric. Be careful not to stretch the fabric as that can damage the elastic. When you’re done, rinse the detergent off with clean water. Drape it over a drying rack and allow it to air dry.

Note: Given how absorbent they are, it will take a little while longer for the pads inside to completely dry

While hand washing is the best choice, you can put them in the wash. The trick is to remove the pads before putting the bras in the machine. Instead of washing it all together, wash them separately—that is, the sports bra goes into the washer whereas the pads are hand washed. Choose a gentle cycle, add some ACTIVE detergent and wash with cold water. When the cycle is complete, lay it out to dry. For the pads, you’ll want to wash them with a little bit of ACTIVE detergent in a separate tub or container.

Pro-tip: If you’re good with sewing, you might want to consider sewing the corners of the pads in place on the sports bra. This will prevent the pads from shifting around in the wash. If done correctly, you will never have to worry about the pads moving around again!

How to Extend the Life of Your Sports Bras

Let’s face it, sports bras can be expensive. For a high-quality item, you’ll probably have to pay at least $50—perhaps more if it’s from a well-known brand. Cost is not the only issue either; even if you have the money, it can be difficult to find one that fits you properly. After all, everyone’s bodies are different.

Pro-tip: As far as fit goes, you want to have it snug around your rib cage, but not tight enough so that it cuts off your circulation. As a general rule, you should be able to fit a couple of fingers between the band and the body.

Given how pricey and hard to find they are, it’s important that you take good care of them. What are some ways that you can extend the life of your sports bra? We will be sharing some of our tips below.

Never Put Them in the Dryer

As explained earlier, you should never put your sports bra in the dryer. Just because other people do it, doesn’t mean that you should. Over time, the high heat can damage the garment and elastic band. What good is it sports bra if it doesn’t stay on properly?

Take Your Sports Bra Off When You’re Done Exercising

Take your sports bra off as soon as you can after finishing an intense workout. This will prevent it from soaking in excess perspiration. If you have time, give it a quick rinse under clean water—this will help to get rid of any bacteria that is on the fabric. Whatever you do, don’t just toss it into your gym bag and call it a day!

Wear Them in Rotation

If you can, have more than one sports bra. That way, you’ll be able to wear them in rotation. With that, you will be able to minimize the amount of strain on each of them. Not to mention that you won’t have to worry about exercising in a dirty bra!

Hand Wash Your Sports Bra Whenever Possible

Sure, you can put them in the wash, but that’s not always the best option. No matter how gentle we are with them, they will get tossed around in the machine. Over time, that will damage the material. If you must put them in the washer, be sure to put them in a mesh laundry bag.

When Should You Replace Your Sports Bra?

As careful as you might be, there will be a day when you need to replace your sports bra. After a while, the material will be stretched out—this will minimize the amount of support that it can provide. How do you know when it’s time to shop for a new sports bra?

  • If the fit suddenly feels loose
  • If the sports bra has noticeable piling or stretching
  • If you feel that there is more movement when you’re exercising
  • If the fabric has changed colors
  • If you experience chafing around your midsection

Generally speaking, you should replace your sports bra every 6 to 12 months. Like most things, though, it depends on how often you use it. Obviously, they’d last longer if you exercise once every two weeks as opposed to every day. In any case, you’ll want to go shop for a new sports bra if you notice a decline in support.

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