How to Wash and Care for a Sports Bra

Product Care

Follow these five simple tips to remove oils, sweat and foul odours and lengthen your sports bra's lifespan.

Last updated: 5 January 2022
5 min read
How to Wash and Care for a Sports Bra
Time Required
30 min
Estimated Cost
USD 20


  • Shampoo or Laundry Soap
  • Fabric Booster
  • Cold Water


  • Small bath or sink
  • Lingerie or garment bag
  • Washing machine (optional)

5 Steps to Properly Wash and Care for a Sports Bra

Your sports bra provides the essential support you need to run, jump and leap without distractions.But as you tackle your fitness goals, each workout will leave your sports bra sweaty and in need of a good wash.

Like other performance-based activewear, a sports bra requires special care.If you want it to continue to provide the support and lift of your first wear, you need to know how to wash it properly.

Follow these laundry tips to lengthen your bra's lifespan and keep it clean and smelling fresh.

1. Wash After Every Use

Washing your sports bra after every workout will mitigate unpleasant odours but even if your sports bra doesn't smell, you should wash it after every use.

Tossing your sports bra back in the drawer will cause bacteria, fungi and yeast to build up in the bra's fibres.And the area under the breasts is especially prone to yeast infections.You might also develop a rash, break out with acne, get a bacterial infection or experience nipple chafing if you don't wash your sports bras regularly.

So take off your sports bra immediately after your workout and either wash it right away or hang it up to air-dry until laundry day.

How to Wash and Care for a Sports Bra

Like all activewear, your sports bra requires special care to maintain the integrity of the fabric and materials.

2. Wash by Hand or in a Lingerie Bag

Hand washing is the best way to extend the life of your sports bra.It's also more eco-friendly than a machine wash.

Avoid using regular detergent and instead opt for a gentle hand soap, laundry soap or shampoo.Regular detergent can be difficult to rinse out of clothes when washing by hand and detergent residue builds up in the fibres of your sports bra and causes odours.

You'll want to soak your sports bra in the soapy water for about 20 to 30 minutes and gently scrub the fabric with your hands.When you've finished, drain the sink and refill it with cold water until all the soap is rinsed out.

How to Wash and Care for a Sports Bra

Wear a pair of gloves and gently scrub your sports bra in soapy water.

If you're washing your sports bra in a washing machine, follow these steps:

  1. Fasten the clasps on your sports bra.
  2. If your sports bra has removable pads, remove them and wash them by hand.
  3. Place your sports bra inside a lingerie bag (or garment bag), especially if you're machine washing it with other items.
  4. Follow the care instructions on the tag.If the tag is missing, opt for the delicate cycle with warm or hot water.
  5. Use a regular detergent or one intended for performance fabrics.Avoid using too much detergent.

Washing your sports bra inside a mesh lingerie bag adds extra protection for the fabric by keeping it separate from other items.

3. Forego Fabric Softener for a Fabric Booster

Synthetic moisture-wicking apparel such as Nike Dri-FIT are great for keeping you cool, dry and comfortable but they're not conducive to using fabric softener.

Fabric softeners clog the fibres of your sports bra so that sweat and dirt stay trapped instead of washing out.What's more, they'll prevent the fabric from serving its intended purpose, which is to breathe and wick away moisture from the skin.

Avoid fabric softener or dryer sheets and instead opt for a fabric booster designed for performance clothing.

How to Wash and Care for a Sports Bra

Try to avoid fabric softener or dryer sheets that can clog up the fibres of the bra and degrade its breathability.

4. Lay Flat to Dry

Avoid using a dryer, especially on high heat.A dryer can stretch out the fabric and elastic on your sports bras, making them less supportive and even changing the fit.Luckily, sports bras are designed to dry quickly.

Air-dry them on a counter or flat surface by placing them over a towel.Or, drape them over a drying rack.

Try to avoid hanging your sports bra by the straps, which can cause the straps to stretch out.

How to Wash and Care for a Sports Bra

Laying the bra on a flat surface to dry will avoid exposing the fabric to the high heat of a dryer and extend its useful life.

5. Replace Worn-Out Sports Bras

Even with the proper care, your sports bra will wear out over time and be less effective at supporting you when you hit the gym.Watch for signs that it's time to replace your old sports bra, such as:

  • The band is stretched out and doesn't provide sufficient support.
  • The band slides or the bra rides up when you lift your arms.
  • There is pilling or the fabric looks worn out in certain areas.
  • The band or straps are causing chafing.
  • The bra is stained or retains odour after washing.

Care for your sports bras properly and you can expect them to endure for about a year of regular wear.When it's time to go shopping for a new one, ensure proper fit and support and choose materials that will keep you cool and dry.

Originally published: 13 September 2021

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