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    Your Bras Will Last Longer If You Follow These Expert Tips

    Step away from the dryer immediately.

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    Bras do so much for us, what with them always being there to offer their unwavering support. And yet they only ask one thing in return: not to be tossed in the dryer.

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    But when laundry day rears its head, you (once again) panic when you realize that every single one of your bras is still in the washer and you’re set to walk out of the door in 30 minutes. So with no backup bras in sight, into the dryer they go. Yes, you (and I) have committed the cardinal sin of bra-havers at least once before: never, ever put your bras in the dryer.

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    “If you're not caring for them well,” says LaJean Lawson, director of the Champion Bra Lab and longtime sports bra researcher, “that will shorten their lifespan.” And you don’t want that.

    Because most bras don’t run cheap and they aren’t made to last forever, you want to make sure you’re properly caring for them to get the most out of those bands and straps. So here’s how to give your bras the longest lifespan possible.

    Take It Off ASAP

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    Don’t wear your bra a second longer than you have to. Everyday bras can be worn for a few days in a row, but they need a little break in between wears to help them keep their shape. Sports bras, which, more often than not, get sweaty over the course of your workouts, should be removed as soon as you get home. “Either it goes right into the washing machine or hang it up,” Lawson says. Dark hampers and drawers are breeding grounds for bacteria, she continues, so you’ll want to wash it right away, rinse it off (if things got particularly sweaty), or let it air out. If you don’t sweat as much and can get a couple of wears out of a sports bra before washing it, it’s totally fine to let it out to dry, Lawson says. Mesh hampers are safe solutions if you’re dead set on throwing your bras into a hamper.

    Machine-Wash Is Fine

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    Who really has the time to handwash their delicates? Scrubbing your bras in the bathroom sink can take a backseat to life’s other obligations. Good news: Machine-washing your bras is totally allowed. “The day that I‘ll handwash my bras, I will have nothing else to do in my life,” Lawson says.

    To prevent your bras (both everyday and sports bras) from getting tangled and mangled with other clothes, make sure the hooks are clasped and place your bras in a lingerie bag before tossing them in the washer. Set the water temperature to “warm” (not hot, not cold) and use a gentle laundry detergent that doesn’t contain chlorine or bleach. Let the washer run on the gentle or delicate cycle.

    And for those dead-set on hand-washing, where are you getting all this free time? Anyway, fill up your sink with cool water and a small amount of detergent and fully submerge your bras. Let them soak for a few minutes before rinsing with fresh, cool water.

    For everyday bras, give them a wash after every two to three wearings to remove all the skin cells, sweat, and other oils your body produces. Yes, it’s a hefty ask, but your bras will thank you later. Sports bras can get away with a wash after every use, but keep in mind the stress that washing puts on the spandex. To avoid a full wash, you can rinse the bra with warm water and let it line-dry in between workouts.

    Do. Not Put. In. The. Dryer.

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    “Heat is a killer on the spandex,” Lawson says. “The dryer will strip fibers out of the material.” Instead, lay wet bras flat on a towel to air-dry or arrange them on a drying rack. Lawson is a fan of hangers with clothespins for air-drying. Don’t hang your bras by the straps when they’re drying — the weight of the wet bra pulling on the straps will stretch them out. Instead, make sure the gore — the center part of the bra in-between the cups — is draped over the drying rack.

    Rotate Your Bras.

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    Think about ‘em like shoes: If you wear the same pair every day, they’re going to get worn out quicker. The same goes for all your bras. You’ll want to space out your wears, especially with underwire styles, where frequent washing can wear down the covering over the wire. So maybe wear a bralette for two days, give it a break, wear your fancy lace one for another two days, give that one a break, and close out the week with a tried-and-true T-shirt bra. The same advice holds for sports bras.

    Know When To Replace.

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    Fact: Your bras will die. Lawson doesn’t like giving an exact lifespan prediction, because how you care for them and how often you wear each bra will determine how long it’ll last. But there are warning signs to know when your bra has kicked the bucket. Are the colors faded? Are the straps stretched out? Is it chafing you? Is the band stretched out? Does the bra ride up? If you answered yes to any of those, it’s time to say farewell. “If your sports bra starts looking too ugly, too old, and you’re not motivated to put it on,” Lawson says, “get a new bra already.”