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How often should you wash your nursing bra?

Washing your nursing bra too often can cause the fabric to wear, but not washing a milk-stained bra for more than a few days makes your breasts smell sour.

I recommend washing your nursing bra after a day’s use. If you only wore it for a few hours, you can probably wear it again. But if you wore your bra for an exercise session, you should wash it after. The same advice applies to pumping bras.

Let’s take a deep dive:

How often should you wash your nursing bra?

You should wash your nursing bra after each use (assuming you wore it for the day). If it is not possible to wash it after each use, then you should at least hang it up to air and wash it at least once every few days.

Don’t you love the feel and smell of clean lingerie? Clean clothes refresh me and cheer me up. When I’m feeling frumpy and tired, a shower and clean set of clothes always perks me up!

To tell the truth, the only excuse I would accept for not washing your nursing bras regularly is that you don’t have a washing machine. Even then, you can easily give your bra a quick dip in soapy water and rinse it in the bathroom sink in 2 minutes!

That’s quicker than making 2-minute noodles.

The Bravado! Designs Original Nursing Bra is made of a cotton/modal blend that is breathable and naturally anti-bacterial:

BRAVADO! DESIGNS Original Nursing Sleep Bra in Cotton-Modal | Dove Heather | MCheck it out on Amazon

Why is it important to wash your nursing bras regularly?

Breast milk leaks can build up in the fabric of the bra. You will also inevitably sweat in it. At the end of a day’s use, if you smell the cup of your bra, you’ll get a whiff of mustiness. That’s bacterial build-up. They like to feed on organic matter like milk and sweat.

Every mom knows the pain of cracked nipples and nipple trauma from baby nibbles. What you don’t think about is that it’s basically an ‘open wound’. If your bra is harboring bacteria, you will be introducing germs into your nipples and breasts, putting you at high risk of mastitis.

If you don’t wash your bra for a week, you’ll get black spots in the cups and band. That’s mold. Mold love sour milk and old sweat.

Over time, mold will degrade the fabric, causing it to become less supportive and hold onto odor.

How often should you change your nursing bra?

The rule of thumb is that you should change your nursing bra as often as you change your undies. If you are only lounging at home, you can probably wear your nursing bra throughout the day without a change.

However, if you have worn it out for a brisk walk or gym session, it’s an immediate change when you get home.

Another great reason to change out of your nursing bra is if you had a big milk leak. It gets pretty uncomfortable and pungent, wearing a damp milk bra.

The Zest nursing sports bra gives you amazing support for high-impact activities. But you need to change out of it immediately after your exercise session:

Cake Maternity Zest Nursing Sports Bra for Breastfeeding, Sports Maternity Bra, Grey, 34DD UK/ 34E USCheck it out on Amazon

Should you wash your nursing bras before wearing them for the first time?

You should always wash your nursing bras (and clothes) before you wear them. Clothes, including lingerie, is ‘finished’ with chemicals to seal colors, improve durability etc. That is why you sometimes get a whiff of strong chemical smells from poorer quality bras.

A good wash will usually get rid of residue chemicals. However, if you wear your bra immediately without washing them first, you risk having these chemicals absorb into your skin and your baby’s skin.

How to wash your nursing bra

Gentle does it when it comes to nursing bras. They are wonderfully elastic things but the downside of that is if you stretch them too much, the elastic wears out.

The best way to wash your nursing bra is by hand. Soak it in warm soapy water for a few minutes, then rinse it out. Gently press the water out of the cups (especially if you have padded cups) and hang it out to dry under the shade.

Admittedly, I mostly washed my nursing bras in the washing machine. I always did them up first and put them in a lingerie mesh bag. Always use a gentle cycle and cold water. Never do a hot wash as it will shrink the bra. And don’t use fabric softeners and dryer sheets.

Most importantly, never dry your nursing bras in a clothes dryer. All that tossing, tumbling and hot air will destroy it.

The Puracy Laundry Detergent is plant-based with no harmful chemical, hypo-allergenic and eco-friendly:

Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent, Hypoallergenic, Enzyme-Based, Free & Clear, 24 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)Check it out on Amazon

How to keep your nursing bras clean between washes

If you prefer to wash your nursing bras after a few uses (which I don’t recommend), here are some ways to keep it cleaner between washes:

  • use nursing pads in your cups to catch milk leaks. This way you can just replace the nursing pads as needed.

Bamboobies Nursing Pads for Breastfeeding Reusable Washable Breast Pads Super Soft Rayon Made From Bamboo Milk Proof Liner Perfect Baby Shower Gifts, Pale PinkCheck it out on Amazon

  • keep your breasts sweat-free by keeping yourself cool and using sweat pads – yes, there is such a thing!

Brushed Cotton on Both Sides - Bra Liners for Sweating Rash Boob Sweat Liner Cotton Pads – 3PCSCheck it out on Amazon

  • buy nursing bras made of breathable material like cotton and bamboo (check out the best cotton nursing bras and best bamboo nursing bras on Amazon)
  • hang your bra up in between uses so it can ‘air’
  • alternate between two bras so you can give the other a chance to air out
  • keep your body clean by having regular showers

To wrap up

Nursing bras get dirty a lot quicker than regular bras due to milk leaks and sweat. It’s important to wash your bra regularly after every use to prevent bacteria and mold build up.

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Sharon James

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