How Long Do Bras Last?
I recently realized that I’ve had my favorite bra for over FIVE years, and it got me thinking, how long do bras last? I know I’m not alone in this, and maybe you have an old go-to bra, too, but even with strong, sustainable underwear, there’s gotta be an expiration date. Whether you wear a hemp bra like the triangle bralette or a conventional push-up style, how do you know when to say goodbye?
It turns out there’s not a straightforward answer. There are a lot of factors that go into how long you can wear your bra. But there is a general timeline that you can follow, plus a few other tips and tricks to help your favorite breathable underwear last longer.
OKAY, BUT REALLY, HOW LONG DOES A BRA LAST?
Generally speaking, your bra should last about 6-9 months. I’m sorry, say what? Less than a year? Bras are expensive, and it can take time to find the right fit, and now I have to buy a new one every six or nine months?
Well, yes and no.
Bras serve a purpose, and when the fabric wears down, it can no longer function and may do more harm than good. So it’s not so much as how long do bras last physically, but more about how long they can do their job. The timeline for regular wear and tear differs based on several factors, including:
- How much you wear your bra
- What material you buy
- How often you sweat and other daily activities
- How big your boobs are
- How often and how you wash your bra
Let’s say you own three bras and rotate them. Even then, you’re still wearing each bra over 120 times a year. That’s a lot of stretching, pulling, and sweat.
Do you ever ask yourself, how many bras should I own? There is a reason why the answer to that question is seven. If you have a bra for each day of the week, you’re only wearing it 52 times per year. The less you wear a bra, the longer it will last.
How long do bras last when it comes to fabric? Some materials are better than others. Be honest—do you buy cheap bras and watch them slowly disintegrate in the wash? You get what you pay for, and cheap, weak material won’t last very long.
I’m not a fan of boob sweat, but it happens to the best of us, right? When you sweat, bacteria build up on your bra. That’s why it’s important to buy airy materials that make for antibacterial underwear, like hemp. Other physical activities can also impact how long your bra lasts. If you’re nursing, for example, you’ll naturally put more pressure and strain on your bra.
Breast shapes and boob sizes differ, but the larger your ta-tas, the harder it is for your bra to keep up. Big boobs naturally strain your bra more than small boobs. It’s definitely not fair, but you’ll go through more bras than your smaller-chested friends.
Do you toss your bras in the washing machine with the rest of your clothes? If you do that, maybe you’ve already learned your lesson! Bras are delicate, so if you throw them in the hot spin cycle, they’re going to wear down quickly.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU BUY NEW BRAS?
If you’re questioning how long should a bra last, then you’re probably also wondering how often should you buy new bras. Even in a minimalist clothing wardrobe, the goal is to maintain seven bras. You should buy new bras when your old bras wear out. You may be walking around oblivious to the tell-tale signs (hello, five-year-old bra over here!), so it’s helpful to know what to look for when deciding if it’s time to retire a bra.
WHEN TO SAY GOODBYE
Some signs are more obvious than others, but all you have to do is take a good look at your closet and decide to toss or save. Here are the five most important signs that your bra is suffering, and it’s time for a closet refresher.
- Holes, Stains, and Tears, Oh My. Sorry, but if your bra is riddled with imperfections, what are you waiting for? Stains from sweat or coffee (guilty!) are not only going to wear down your fabric, but they’ll attract more bacteria, even after washing.
- Elastic Problems. Even with strong weed underwear, the stretchiness of your bra is vital to its performance. Once that elasticity stops bouncing back, it’s over. You know when you first buy a bra, and you have to use the loosest hook, and it still feels like a warm hug? If you now need to use the tightest hook and your band still sags and wrinkles, you need a new bra.
- Body Changes! Every human on the planet will deal with changes to the body. You and I both know how weight fluctuations, hormonal changes, pregnancy and nursing, and aging can impact the shape of your boobs. Even if your bra has life left, you may need a new brasserie when the ta-tas evolve.
- Bust a Move. When it comes to sports bras, you don’t really want your bust to move. Below I elaborate on the purpose of a bra, and one of the most important roles is to hug those boobs close to your chest when exercising. Sports bras tend to be tighter overall, but if your boobs are still flapping around, it means it’s time to move on. How long do bras last? Until they no longer support your breasts!
BENEFITS OF A GOOD-FITTING BRA
I think I was wearing my five-year-old bra as a sign of pride. Like, wow, look at me and how thrifty I am! But when I look at it now, I know I’m not receiving the important support of a good-fitting bra. Bras have three purposes, and an old one can’t perform her duties.
- Back Support: Boobs get heavy, and that can put a lot of pressure on your back and neck. The right bra, one that fits well and properly, will support your breasts and take the strain off of your body. This is extra important when exercising.
- Boob Health: Your breasts are fragile, and their mammary glands are connected to your pectoral muscles by delicate ligaments called Cooper’s ligaments. When there’s too much stress (weight and gravitational pull), they can wear down, and your boobs will droop and deflate. You don’t need to wear a bra every moment of the day, but they do help support your glands.
- Shaping: Our society loves to critique appearances, which has led to 77% of women being dissatisfied with their boobs. A good bra can help to shape your ta-tas and make you feel better about your appearance.
Old, damaged, and worn-out bras can’t perform these important duties. They leave us sagging, putting pressure on our ligaments and glands, and stress our back muscles.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR BRAS LAST LONGER
If you focus on the factors that wear your bras down, you can take mindful steps to help prolong your bras’ lives. From what material you buy to how many bras you own to how you wash them, all impact the average lifespan. So although generally, bras last 6-9 months, a high-quality bra that’s well taken care of can last much longer.
BUY SUSTAINABLE AND DURABLE
If you’re wondering how long should a bra last, then you should take a look at your tags. Buying bras made with strong, durable, and sustainable materials will make those babies last a whole lot longer. A hemp bra is your go-to here, like the triangle bralette or racerback bralette.
Besides being super durable and comfy, I love these two styles because they get better with age. Seriously, when you wash hemp fabric (carefully, more on that below), you actually soften and strengthen the material. Plus, hemp creates non-toxic breathable underwear that’s healthy for your skin.
ROTATE YOUR BRAS
Remember when I referenced how many bras you should own and mentioned the number seven? That’s because you need to rotate your bras to make them last longer. Think about it; if you wear a bra every single day, it’s going to wear out a lot faster than if you wear it just once per week.
Having a closet filled with hemp fashion means you can rotate your underwear and keep your clothes lasting longer.
LET YOUR BRAS "REST"
Along the same lines is letting your bras “rest” between wears. Because bras require some form of stretch, resting your bras means the elastic has time to slowly return its shape before being stretched again. Although elastic seems to just pop back into shape instantly, deep down, it needs a little more time to maintain its shape and quality long term.
WASH YOUR BRAS CAREFULLY
Learn how to hand wash bras so that they last much longer. As I mentioned above, tossing them into the washing machine is too harsh. Bras are delicate and need proper care. Some of my favorite tips include hang drying your bra and never wringing it. Instead, press it with a towel to get out any excess water.
STORE THEM WITH CARE
How to store your bras has a lot to do with how to organize underwear. When you put your bras in a draw haphazardly, you wear them down faster because they lose their shape. You should store your bras either individually with cups facing up, stacked gently with the cups up, or lined in a row with the cups all in the same direction.
I already mentioned my love for hemp bralettes, but there’s another reason why they’re so great: their style tends to last longer naturally. What is a bralette? Bralettes are a more casual and comfortable version of a conventional bra. Because they don’t have structured cups or underwire, they’re more versatile and don’t lose their shape as quickly.
Despite the bralette vs bra debate, it’s a personal choice. I prefer a bralette because it feels less constricting. It’s just a bonus that I don’t have to worry about them losing cup shape or an underwire going rogue!
CONCLUSION: HOW LONG DO BRAS LAST
So, how long does a bra last, and how often should you buy new bras? Although the general lifespan is 6-9 months, a lot depends on your fabric choice, your boob size, and your activity level. But you can prolong the life of your favorites by rotating your bras, letting them rest between wears, and washing them carefully.
Okay, fess up! How old is your oldest bra? Don’t let me suffer alone here—share your confession in the comments!