How washing affects your sports bra long-term - and 5 ways to help!
We’ve all been there. On laundry day we bundle all our clothes together, throw them into the machine on a guesstimated temperature and hit ‘start’. If the whites are lucky, they may get separated. It’s about as much time and brain space I have when it comes to washing my clothes, that's for sure. Nevertheless, if we knew the importance of correctly laundering our clothes to save their long-term performance, we may change our laundry habits for the better. Especially our sports bras.
Can Washing affect Performance?
My sports bras are the most used items in my wardrobe. 50% of the time they’re in the wash, and the other 50% - I’m using them. We've known for a little while now that laundering our sports bras has a steady and persistent effect on their appearance. However, through new research, we're now understanding what effect laundering has on the performance of our sports bras also! But in what way and to what degree? Read on.
The research group in breast health at Portsmouth University have found across two studies that washing and wearing the average sports bra 25 times has led to a 32% reduction in breast support. Coupled with this, a study from Loughborough University found that when the sports bra was only washed for the same number of cycles, with no wears, this alone led to a 20% decrease in sports bra support. We've known from earlier research that a poor supporting sports bra can lead to detrimental performance when running. Now we know this can happen after just 25 washes!
Our 5 Best Tips to save your sports bra
What does this mean? We obviously need to wash our sports bras between workouts and we rely on this garment to perform for us. So what can we do to help? It's a good reason to buy good-quality sports bras from reputable brands so that they use durable and superior fabrics to make your sports bra last for as long as possible. Additionally, here are our five easy-to-follow tips below, so that you can do what you can to help prolong the performance of your sports bras for as long as possible.
1. Washing Guidelines
2. Wash preparations
3. Do not tumble dry or iron.
4. Wear the right sports bra for your activity.
5.Don't wash your sports bra unnecessarily.
Why is this important?
Many of us have been guilty of holding onto our sports bras for too long. But we're not aware of the detrimental effects that this could be having on our bodies. It may not be glaringly obvious to us from day-to-day use, so this is why it's important that we keep this above information in mind so that we look after ourselves and our wallets at the same time. Invest in a high-quality sports bra that will last you a long time and be sure to launder it correctly to help prolong its performance.
When should I replace my sports bra?
Unfortunately, there are still no set or specific guidelines as to when exactly you should be replacing your sports bra. All sports bras are constructed differently and are made using a different fabrics. However, a good habit to get into would be to treat them the same as your running shoe and replace them roughly the same time.
It can be difficult to know how to tell if you bra even needs replacing. Again. like your shoes, it can be difficult to tell from day-to-day as they degrade. But when you pop into a shop to try that new pair on, you can realise what you've been missing this whole time. So don't leave it too long!
If your sports bra starts to feel or look different (i.e., loss of shape), you catch a glimpse of your bouncing bosom in a shop window reflection or if you can feel a difference in your support level at all take a little bit of time for self-care and invest in yourself and that new sports bra!
- Wakefield-Scurr, J., Hamilton, C., Reeves, K., Jones, M., & Jones, B. (2022). The effect of washing and wearing on sports bra function. Sports Biomechanics, 1-11.
- Rathinamoorthy, R. (2019). Influence of repeated household fabric softener treatment on the comfort characteristics of cotton and polyester fabrics. International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology, 31(2), 207-219.