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How Long Do Bras Last? When Should You Replace Your Lingerie?

How Long Do Bras Last? When Should You Replace Your Lingerie?

How long do bras last? When should you replace your lingerie? Some say six months to a year. Others say you can hang onto your bras, bralettes and/or panties longer. I don’t like this way of thinking because it’s black and white. Like, are you going to wake up one day exactly six months after you purchased it and, poof!, it’s donezo? What if you only wore it once? What if it still have the tag on it? Instead, I look for a few telltale signs that a bra or panty has had it’s life and needs to be retired. This goes for regular lingerie as well sports bras. I’m also including some ideas on what you can do with old bras and where you can donate them!


Elasticity and Quality of the Fabrics
Over time, the elasticity of the fabric and trims will give out. This is why many bras have a hook & eye in the back. When you first purchase it, it should be connected to the loosest hook. As a bra wears out, you should put it on the middle hook, and then finally, the tightest hook. I’m assuming it has 3 columns of hooks. When should you put it on the tighter hook? You’ll know because the band will feel look and/or start to ride up.

If you machine wash your lingerie, another sign is if the lace or fabric is disintegrating. Higher quality fabrics won’t do, but we all don’t buy fancy-schmancy underoos. Also, lingerie that is hand washed won’t do this either. Another reason to skip machine washing.

Sweat or Stain Marks
Eww! Gross! Okay, we all sweat. Lingerie is the closest thing we wear to our bodies. So, our body oils, perspiration as well as residue from deodorant are going to get on it. If you can see sweat stains inside your lingerie, it’s time.

Straps Falling Off
This relates to elasticity, but I felt it deserves its own call out. If your straps are falling off your shoulders even when tightened, it’s a sign they’ve stretched out and need to be replaced. I’m assuming that straps are in the right position too. Obviously, if your straps are too wide, then of course they are going to fall off. You could replace the straps, but straps usually have more Spandex than other elastics used in lingerie. Also, they only account for 10% of support. So if they’re stretched out, I can assure you that the other elastics are too.

Crinkles or creases
In the case of padded bras, if you see any crinkles or creases, it’s also time.

It hurts
Most likely, this is because the wire is poking out or stabbing you in the side. Girl, toss that bra like it’s a bad habit!


A bra that is properly cared for can last a very long time. Regularly washing will greatly increase longevity, but don’t think you need to wash them after every wear. You think you’re doing good, but you’re not. If you wash your bras too frequently, the fabrics and elastics in your bras will go sooner. You only need to wash your bra every few wears. So how should you wash your bras? Read this post!


If you’re a sewist and make your own lingerie, you can definitely recycle the hardware. Use a seam ripper and take off the rings & sliders and hooks & eyes and use them again!

If you’re not a sewist and wish to donate, I high recommend The Bra Recyclers, who recycle over 1 million bras to women in need.

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