The List's Exclusive Survey Shows How Many Days Women Wear Their Bra Before They Wash It

It's every pre-teen's dream and every woman's nightmare: wearing a bra. Bras are a staple in modern fashion, a functional undergarment worn to keep breasts supported. But wearing a bra is not the pinnacle of womanhood we imagined when we were younger: poking underwires, awkward fits, and chaffed chests are just a few of the struggles that come with wearing a bra.

Bra problems are extremely common: finding the right size is a lifelong struggle, and the quality can vary drastically by brand. Trying to find a bra that's both comfortable and cute is practically unheard of for most people, especially for our larger-chested besties who need more than a bralette to be supported. And once you finally find one with the right fit and feel, you look at the price tag and realize bras are so expensive.

According to The New York Times, even with viral trends that search for more comfortable alternatives to bras, and the efforts to destigmatize being braless in public, a good majority of female-presenting people wear bras on a daily basis. Just like any other garment, bras need to be properly washed and cared for, especially after going through so much trouble to find the perfect one. But there's one thing we've never quite figured out: how often should you actually wash your bras? Determined to find an answer, The List conducted a survey asking 600 people, "How many days do you wear your bra before washing it?"

The results are in, and we have some laundry to do

Everything needs a good wash every now and then, even our bras. But how often are most people throwing their over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders into the washing machine? The majority of responses have us thinking we should probably do more laundry; according to The List's survey, 28.17% of voters said they wash their bras after two wears, and 23.17% said they wash after three. Over 19% of voters claim they wash their bras after every use, which means they either do a lot of laundry, or they own a lot of bras. About 14% admitted they wait until wearing their bra six or more times before washing it, while others middled out washing their bras after four (7.67%) or five (7.33%) wears.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, there is actually a correct number of times you can wear your bra before you wash it. Dermatologist Alok Vij said that after three wears, you should probably give your bra a break. He recommends alternating bra styles and fits throughout the week to keep your bra from losing its shape and elastic too quickly. The New York Times recommends washing your bras in cold water on a delicate spin cycle, and always hanging them to dry. Machine washing them in lingerie bags is good for the longevity of your bra, and hand washing them is even better. 

The invention of the modern bra is all thanks to World War I

If you think modern bras are uncomfortable, imagine what our ancestors had to strap across their chests. One of the first contraptions that women were sold were corsets, a garment that wrapped around the torso to "to shape or constrict the waist and support the bosom," according to Britannica. Corsets were worn for centuries before bras came on the scene; in World War I, the metal commonly used to line the corsets was used for military supplies, and corset production came to a halt (via Good Housekeeping). Caresse Crosby, after deciding her corsets were too bulky and uncomfortable, sewed together what we would recognize as an unlined bra made of handkerchiefs, per NPR. She sold her brassiere patent to a corset company, and by the 1920s, the modern day bra was being manufactured for women everywhere.

In the decades that followed, bras evolved with fashion trends; nowadays, you can find just about any type of bra imaginable in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and materials. For many artists and fashionistas, bras have become a fashion statement all their own. (Anyone else reminiscing about Katy Perry's whipped cream bra in her "California Gurls" music video circa 2010?).

While chest support sure has come a long way from the confines of the corset we used to know, let's be honest — there's really nothing like coming home after a long day and taking it off, and not washing it until a few days after... no judgment here.