How to Wash and Care for Sports Bras

Anita Active Brand Ambassador Christina Hammer 3

Above: Anita Active Brand Ambassador Christina Hammer.

“The right care can greatly extend the lifespan of any bra, but especially so a sports one.”

by Estelle Puleston

No bra is designed to last forever, but chances are, it’s not your delicate lace one that going to wear out first. It’s more likely to be your seemingly-sturdy sports bra. Athletic bras, particularly those designed for high-intensity workouts, get put under a considerably higher amount of strain than the average bra that gets worn to the office. Not to mention that they get soaked in sweat and drenched with deodorant on the regular!

Anita Active Momentum Pro Sports Bra

Anita Active Brand Ambassador Christina Hammer 2

The right care can greatly extend the lifespan of any bra, but especially so a sports one. And with exercise bras often costing rather more than one designed for everyday wear, no doubt you’d like it to last as long as possible. So, just how do you care for a sports bra?

First things first, when should you take it off after a workout? With the athleisure trend flooding the fashion landscape, you may be tempted to keep it on for your post-gym lunch or errands. Whether that’s okay “depends on how intense your workout was and if you were sweating a lot during your time in the gym”, advises Summer Rose from Curvy Couture, “If you were, we suggest removing it in the changing room right away”.

Curvy Couture Sport Ultimate Fit Underwire Sports Bra

Curvy Couture Sport Bra in Heather

Sweat is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and it’s this that makes your bra start to smell a bit funky. Bacteria doesn’t just cause bad odours though, it irreversibly damages the fabric too. So it’s doubly-important to wash your sports bra soon after getting hot and sweaty. If you’re not headed straight home, keep it on in the shower to rinse it off, and then you can wash it properly later.

You can wash your sports bras in the sink or washing machine, but to keep them in tip-top condition, hand-washing is the gentlest. Whichever you choose, be sure to use a cool or cold setting – too much heat breaks down the fibres in elastic, and a sports bra that has lost its stretch won’t be doing its job very well!

Eucalan Delicates Wash

Eucalan Lingerie Wash

Eucalan is a great, no-rinse detergent suitable for lingerie, and comes scented with a choice of 4 essential oils that all have natural antibacterial properties. For hand-washing, all you need to do is add a capful to a sink or tub of water, and leave your sports bra to soak for 10 minutes. Don’t tumble-dry or wring your sports bras, both of which deteriorate the elastic. Instead, roll it in a towel to gently squeeze out the moisture, then lay it flat or hang it from the centre to air-dry.

Hit the gym daily and don’t have time to wait for it to dry? The best solution is to invest in multiple sports bras. You’ll be able to care for them properly, so two sports bras you rotate between will likely last you longer overall than two bought one after the other as the first wears out!

Parfait Active P5541 Sports Bra

Parfait Active Sports Bra in Claret Red

How long can you expect a sports bra to last with the right TLC? According to Eucalan, “Depending on how frequently you work out and how many sports bras you have, your sports bras will need to be replaced every 1-2 years.” Whether it lasts those extra 12 months depends very much on the intensity of your workout – a running bra is going to wear out quicker than the one you wear to your yoga class.

You’ll be able to tell when your bra’s time is nearly up because it will become less effective at preventing bounce.

“When you’re noticing that it’s not as supportive as it once was,” says Rose, “it’s a way to tell you need a new sports bra”. If it feels loose or starts sliding around as you move, it’s definitely time for a replacement. When you’re ready to shop, here’s how to decide if your next sports bra should be a high- or low-impact one.