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6 min read

How to Care for a Sports Bra: The Ultimate Guide

Sports bras are empowering, supportive, and yes, a great way to make a fashion statement. When you invest in one, you want to do your part to ensure it lasts as long as it can. How do you care for a sports bra?

Caring for your sports bra is all about washing it properly (use a lingerie or laundry bag and follow the tag instructions), line-drying it, and knowing when it’s time to say goodbye and purchase a new one, which is about every six to eight months.

Your sports bra is an embodiment of you: confident, driven, and bold. This care guide will answer all your questions so your sports bra is ready to rock and roll for as long as possible! 

How Do You Wash a Sports Bra?

If you’ve ever shrunk an everyday bra in the wash, then you’ve since taken extra washing precautions to preserve your delicates. When it comes to washing a sports bra though, maybe you’re not sure what the right protocol is.

No worries, here are the steps to follow so your sports bra comes out squeaky clean, fresh, and free of odors!

Step 1 – Use a Lingerie or Laundry Bag

A sports bra isn’t lingerie, per se, but should still be treated the same as your other delicates when going through the wash cycle. 

Before you toss your bra into the mesh bag, double-check that all clasps are fastened so the bra doesn’t catch onto other clothes as it tumbles in the washer. Also, remove the pads. Then zip the bag up tight. 

Step 2 – Wash According to Product Instructions

Feeling clueless about what wash settings to use for your sports bra? There’s no need to be when the information is printed right on the tag! 

If your sports bra has been around the block and the tag is one big black faded smudge by now, here are some washing tips, based on how we recommend washing SHEFIT sports bras.

  • Delicate Cycle:The normal cycle is typically fine for most sports bras, but washing the bra on the delicate cycle is usually a better idea.
  • Performance Detergent:Performance fabric detergent is best, but if all you have is a regular detergent, that suffices too.
  • No Fabric Softener:Oh, and very importantly, skip the fabric softener. Sports bras are soft enough as it is, so a fabric softener is unneeded. Using a softener can make your sports bra less breathable, which is the last thing you want. 

Step 3 – Line Dry the Bra - No Dryer!

When your washer is finished with its cycle, retrieve the sports bra from the bag. You can toss the bag in the dryer, but not the sports bra. That has to either line-dry or lay flat on a drying rack.

The high heat that your dryer produces is a one-two punch to sports bras, wearing down both the fabric and the elastic.

Your sports bra will naturally become looser and less supportive over time. Don’t accelerate the process by running it through the dryer. That said, how long should your sports bra last?

How Long Should a Sports Bra Last?

You can easily fall in love with a flirty, well-fitting sports bra. Like the best things in this life though, you have to let it go sooner than later. How long should a sports bra last?

At the very least, your sports bra will be in gym-ready condition for six months. Proper care and lower usage can prolong the life of the bra to 12 months, but most sports bras should be replaced after 6-8 months to compensate for lost elasticity and poor fit from washing.

In the event, you decide to use your bra well past its shelf-life, your breasts, and all the delicate surrounding tissue won't have the proper support, which can lead to chest pain and even injuries if you do intensive training. 

How Many Times Can You Wear a Sports Bra Before Washing It?

Ideally, sports bras should be washed after every use. Light exercise, such as going on a brisk walk, could get two wears before washing, but there are risks to not washing after each use. Risks include skin irritation, fungal overgrowth, acne breakouts, and bacterial infections.

So while you might technically be able to get a couple of wears out of your sports bra before washing it, it's not the best idea from a hygiene standpoint.

The takeaway? When in doubt, wash your sports bra - which is every time you take it off.

Should I Take the Pads Out of Sports Bras When Washing?

If your sports bra has removable pads, you should take them out before placing your sports bra in the washing machine, otherwise, they will easily become misshapen or lost. Instead, to clean sports bra pads, wash them by hand with regular detergent, then lay them flat to dry.

It's no secret that sports bras are usually padded. The padding adds a further layer of reinforcement so your breasts aren’t jiggling and bouncing too much. You also don’t want your headlights to be on too bright if you know what we mean. Padding prevents that. 

If your sports bra has removable pads, do you have to take them out ahead of every wash? Yes, you definitely should! If you don’t, then the forces of the washer are going to suck those pads out of the bra. 

The washer is no place for removable sports bra pads. The risk of losing the pads is too high, yes, but they can also be bent or crinkled out of shape.

You should hand wash the pads using regular detergent. Be sure to give the pads ample time to line-dry or dry flat before reinserting them into your bra.

If the pads are wet when you put them back in, wearing the sports bra is going to feel cold and uncomfortable. You’re also creating a breeding ground for mold.

Signs It’s Time for a New Sports Bra

Is it time to bid your sports bra adieu? The following signs indicate that your sports bra has loosened due to elasticity loss, even with the best washing machines and methods, these are surefire ways that you need a new sports bra.

The Bra Is Wrinkled

Wrinkling in a sports bra is a clear sign that your bra no longer fits properly. The material has stretched too much over the months or years. There’s nothing you can do to save your bra now, unfortunately. It won’t bounce back on its own, so do yourself a favor and invest in a new one. 

Your Bra Rides Up

It’s not only highly unflattering when your bra rides up but uncomfortable as well. You become nervous about doing strenuous activities because you’re afraid your bra is going to ride up to your neck and your breasts won't have a lick of support anymore.

You can try adjusting the band hooks and see if that helps. If the hooks are already on the tightest setting and your sports bra still rides, it's no longer usable. 

The Straps Keep Slipping

You’re not used to your sports bra straps slipping down, but it happens. After all, the straps are primarily elastic just as the rest of your sports bra is. When that elastic over-stretches, it doesn’t shrink back.

Tightening the bra straps only helps so much, and eventually, you’ll reach the point where the straps are as tight as they can go yet they still slip. To help you concentrate on your athletic endeavors, you need a new sports bra with straps that stay put. 

Your Breasts Hurt After Exercising 

One of the most damning signs that your sports bra is destined for the recycling bin is if your breasts hurt every time you exercise in the bra. A sports bra should be supportive, but if it’s too loose from overuse, then it can’t provide the degree of support you need.

Your breasts can move a lot more freely in the bra, which leads to pain both when exercising and later. Replace that bra, stat! 

Ready to Be Unstoppable in Your Sports Bra? 

Sure, washing a sports bra correctly isn't as easy as washing a t-shirt. You need to remove the pads, place the sports bra in a laundry or lingerie bag, then put it on a delicate cycle, and dry it with mother nature's help. But, it's well worth it.

Washing your sports bra correctly helps it last much longer. Plus, you get the support you need to stay active without discomfort.

Being unstoppable in a sports bra is all about finding a supportive bra that fits. SHEFIT offers an extensive selection of bras in all sorts of cuts, fits, and styles to suit your needs and tastes.

We even have Fit Experts available virtually to help you find the perfect fit, or help you with the details of washing your SHEFIT bras.

You don't have to be a fitness guru or athlete to understand how important a good sports bra is, and washing it correctly is all part of the process.