No one likes doing the laundry. It’s hard enough having to wash your bedding and clothes but when it comes to your delicates, it’s a whole other story. Between different washing temperatures and wash bags, it’s not easy getting in right, especially when they don’t even look dirty or stink. But what are they hiding and how often should you really wash your bra? 

Josh Zeichner, M.D., dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, told Shape that ideally you’ll want to wash your bra every two to three wears. Zeichner explained that there are exceptions to the rule — say if you’re a person who doesn’t sweat much — you might be able to get away with five wears before washing your bra. However, he says that “if you ask the average woman, they are not doing that. They are washing much less frequently than they should.” Can you relate?

If you don't wash your bra regularly, it will accumulate sweat, oil, and dirt

The reason you need to wash your bra regularly is because “fabrics that are closer to the body are exposed to more sweat, oil, dirt, and bacteria,” than loose fitting clothes, Zeichner explains. While it is usually invisible, dirt accumulates the longer you put off washing your bra the more build up you’ll have, which can lead to skin side effects. All of that grime that’s built up in your bra will rub on your skin, and can cause “irritation, a yeast or fungal infection, or even a bacterial infection of the skin or hair follicle,” said Zeichner.

Unsurprisingly, sports bras need to be treated differently and washed after every wear, even if you don’t sweat, and you should never grab a sports bra out of the laundry basket to wear for a second time. “The bacteria will have had time to multiply in the wet environment of your sweaty bra,” Zeichner explains.

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