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    No.214: How Long Do Bras Last, And When Should You Replace Them?

    How Long Do Bras Last, And When Should You Replace Them?

    Whether you’ve had your bra for a few months or a few years (admit it), you may be wondering: When should you trade it in? This article focuses on signs to look for that’ll indicate it’s time to go shopping for a new bra. Read on to discover how long bras last, how to care for them to maximize their lifespan, and what to look for in the next bra you shop for.

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    How Long Is A Typical Bra's Lifespan?

    With regular wear and tear, a bra should usually last between 6 to 12 months. Of course, this depends on how often you wear it, how well you take care of it, and how much your body fluctuates (this contributes to stretching it out). Even if you take good care of your bra, you should still assume that you’re going to replace it annually, since bras lose their shape and elasticity over time. 

    How Can You Tell When It's Time To Replace A Bra?

    To know if your bra has reached retirement age, there are a few things to look for. Read on to discover if it’s time for you to purchase a new bra. 

    • Stretched out band. When you first purchase a bra, you should be wearing it with the hook and eye set to the furthest setting. As you wear your bra more and more, the band is naturally going to stretch, so you’re going to need to continually move up your hook-and-eye closure. Once you reach the tightest setting, notice that your band is riding up and not supporting your breasts, it’s time to find a new bra.
    • Straps falling off your shoulders. If you constantly pull up the straps of your bra, it’s time for a new one. The straps ensure that the cups hug your chest tightly and that you’re getting enough support. If they’re falling off, they’re not doing the heavy lifting like they’re intended to do. If your straps are falling down but your bra is brand new, check out our guide to adjusting your bra straps. Still not helping? You may want to get fitted by a professional, because chances are, your bra is still a bit too big.
    • You can see the outline of a bra cup through a t-shirt. Even when you’re not wearing skin-tight clothing, if you notice that the bottom of your bra cup is poking out, that's a sign that your bra is stretched. This’ll likely occur if you wear the bra in question often, if you wash it excessively, or if you’ve owned the bra for a long period of time.
    • Permanent crinkly lines and creases in the padding. There are a couple of reasons why your bra may have creases or crinkles. One reason may be how you’re caring for your bra: If you toss it into the dryer, it’ll create new creases or worsen existing ones. Even if you let your bra dry naturally, as you should, it may just be an indication that your bra is worn out.
    • Your bra has “hair” or fuzz. If you’re seeing small elastic “hairs” in your bra, that is a sign that the elastic is broken. That means you’re not getting efficient support anymore and it’s time to trade in. Similarly, “fuzzes” in the form of pilling are a sign that the fabric has seen better days.
    • Fading color. Let’s say your bra is initially a tan color, but it now looks off somehow -- maybe it looks a little gray. Do you want anyone to see that? It’s time to go bra shopping!
    • Your cups don’t fit. When you put on your bra, are you noticing a gap between your breast and the cup that wasn’t there before? If so, this either indicates that your breasts may have gotten a bit smaller, or that your bra is too stretched out.
    • Painful or poking underwire. Once your underwire begins to curl and starts poking you, this is the most critical time to purchase a new bra. A poking underwire is super uncomfortable, can cause rashes or cuts, and can be visible through clothing. Get rid of it ASAP!

    How Much Does Quality Matter In A Bra?

    No matter what you’re buying, quality does play an important role. Obviously, you want whatever you’re buying to serve you for a long time to come. Typically, high quality means good materials that better hold up to everyday wear, tear, and care. Bras that cost next to nothing simply can’t hold up in the same way.

    When looking for a high-quality bra, there are a few things you should consider when determining if it’s a quality bra. When trying on the bra, take into consideration how the bra feels on you. Is it comfortable? Does it sit right on your body? Do you feel supported? And most importantly, do you feelgood wearing it? If the answer is yes to all of these questions, chances are this bra is worth it. 

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    How Does Caring For Your Bra Relate To Quality? 

    Even if you’re purchasing a bra that’s the best of the best, the bra will only last as long as you take good care of it. Here are a few things you can do to maintain the quality of your bra for as long as possible.

    • Follow the directions on the tag.Although many of us don’t want to take time out of our busy day to read through care instructions, they are there for a reason. The care instructions are your step-by-step guide on how to keep your bra’s shape and maintain its quality.
    • Wash sparingly. If you wash your bra too often, you’re actually ruining the structure and fabric of your bra. Instead, let your bra have a couple of wears first (as long as it doesn't gettoo gross).
    • Use a wash bag. If you choose to wash your bras in the washing machine, make sure that you put them into a small, mesh wash bag first. The wash bag protects your bra's fabrics and helps keep the bra's shape, not to mention it also saves you from having to  detangle your straps after every wash.
    • Use a gentle detergent. There are so many detergent options available, but which ones are considered safe and gentle for bras? A gentle detergent is considered anything that doesn’t have bleach or alcohol in it. Wash your bras in this type of detergent, as bleach breaks down elastic and can ruin your bra’s longevity.
    • Avoid the dryer. Putting your bras in the dryer is a big no-no. Excessive heat can cause your underwire to break and can damage the elasticity of your bra.
    • Hand wash. Hand washing delicate bras is the best way to ensure that they last. This isn’t as difficult as it may seem. To hand wash your bras, all you need to do is fill up your sink with cold water, add a gentle detergent, scrub a bit, let them soak, rinse, and hang them up to dry. It’s that simple! 

    How Long Should You Wear A Bra Without Washing It?

    While you may be used to washing your clothes after every use, it’s a little bit different when it comes to bras. Since bras are super delicate, it’s better to wear them a few times before washing them. The general rule of thumb is to wear your bra 2 to 3 times before cleaning it. 

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    How Many Bras Do You Typically Need?

    When it comes to bras, the best saying is “the more the merrier.” You want to have several bras on rotation so you don’t wear one out as easily. When you find the bra you love, consider buying multiple of your go-to everyday model.

    While it’s great to have multiple t-shirt bras that you can wear regularly, you might also want to purchase different styles for a variety of occasions. Generally, you may want to have at least one strapless bra on hand, a lacey bralette, and a few sports bras for when you work out. 

    Find Your New Favorite High-Quality Bra At AnaOno

    If you read this and wondered aloud the last time you bought a bra, that’s a good sign that it’s time to purchase a few new bras. When it comes to finding high-quality bras, AnaOno has you covered. Each of our bras is made with a softer-than-cotton modal material and is wire-free, so you don’t have to worry about poking underwire ever again. With a variety of bras to choose from for every stage of life, we have the perfect fit for you. To find your new favorite bra,shop our collection

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    Dana Donofree

    Dana Donofree

    Founder and CEO of AnaOno. After a diagnosis of breast cancer in her late 20’s, Dana took her own lived experience and fashion design background and (re)designed intimates for those that have undergone breast surgery. Dana’s story has been published around the world in outlets like New York Times, BBC, Huffington Post, The Today Show, and more.