How to care for your bras to make sure they last

Caitlin McCormack
Shine On
September 19, 2012

When it comes to dressing for success and looking your best, Tim Gunn was right when he stressed the importance of underwear and other 'foundation garments' as being key to making any outfit stand out.

Without proper fitting undergarments, your clothes can look less than stellar and even like they don't fit.

Which is why after investing in these crucial pieces, it's important to take care of them so they'll last for many wears.

When it comes to bras, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is to never, EVER launder your bras in the washing machine and dryer. This is the biggest mistake women make when it comes to caring for their bras.

"The washing machine and the dryer can break down the elastics, wire and other delicate components of the bra," explains Julie Dean, associate vice president of technical design for La Senza. "This causes the undergarment to underperform from a support, fit and function standpoint."

So what is the right way to care for your bras to ensure they last a long time and fit well?

Dean says that first and foremost, women should take care to get measured regularly to ensure that they are wearing the right bra size. Almost every department store and specialty lingerie retailer offers this service at no cost.

[See also: Budget-friendly ways to update your wardrobe]

"Once you've determined size, following the care instructions on the bra label will maximize performance of the bra and extend its life," she says.

For most manufacturers, this means hand washing in warm water with a fabric soap designed specifically for the job, rinsing until the water runs clear, followed by hang drying.

Dean suggests ladies wash their bras after every three to five wears in order to preserve the quality.

And if you think that you just don't have the time to hand wash, keep in mind how much money you spend on your underthings and how much longer they will last with a little bit of TLC.

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