How to Wash a Sports Bra

in Sports Bras

When it comes to sports bras, I’m a pretty tough critic.  That’s why I was intrigued when Champion sent me a link to their Bra Finder website.


You answer a few questions (size, activity level, bra style – such as racer back, wire free, front closure) and the site whittles down your options to a few bras that are the best fit for you.


My selections drew me to the Custom Criss-Cross and the Spot Comfort High Support, which Champion sent me over.  The Criss-Cross was very comfy and I loved the feel of the fabric, but it was definitely not ‘maximum support’ for someone with a larger chest.  Same with the Spot Comfort.  Both were ideal for yoga or walking but would not cut it (for me) for running.  I wore the Criss-Cross bra during yesterday’s Ripped in 30 workout and ended up holding my chest during some of the cardio moves – bra fail!  I need those girls to be locked ‘n loaded for hard workouts; I’ve never really found true high support in a Champion bra.  Regardless, I thought the site was pretty cool and would be especially useful for someone who already liked Champion bras (I know a lot of you are fans!).


Another cool part of the site is their Care Guide, which details how to care for a sports bra to maximize its life expectancy and four ways to know when it’s time to replace the bra (you can even register your sports bra with the site so you get an email reminder).  I was curious about some of the Care Guide recommendations – like not washing your bra with fabric softener – so I asked Champion more information.


Why shouldn’t you use chlorine bleach or brighteners when washing your sports bra? 


Any chlorine-based laundry product is destructive to the Lycra/spandex fibers found in every sports bra.  The specific nasty result is a premature loss of strength in the bra fabric (think less powerful compression and support), so you end up compromising the anti-bounce qualities and fit of your sports bra.  Incidentally, heat will also kill the strength of spandex, which is why we also recommend keeping your sports bras out of the dryer and letting them air-dry naturally instead.


Why shouldn’t you use fabric softeners when washing your sports bra? 


Due to their chemical composition, fabric softeners can have a very dramatic, negative effect on moisture management fibers and treatments, preventing them from effectively moving perspiration away from your sweaty body.  So we recommend avoiding fabric softeners not only with sports bras, but with all of our active wear pieces (most of which also have some sort of special treatment to help whisk sweat away and help you avoid a soggy workout).


For more sports bra posts and reviews, including a list of my favorite bras, check out these posts.



  • Kristin August 16, 2012, 2:17 pm

    Have you tried getting fitted by the ladies at a Title Nine store? They are fantastic stores with a wide selection of bras (many are Moving Comfort brand) and every friend I know with a large chest gets their sport bras there!

    • Caitlin August 16, 2012, 2:19 pm

      I have not! I have checked out their website, I didn’t know they had stores.

  • Alex @ Brain, Body, Because August 16, 2012, 2:19 pm

    Great tips! I like Champion’s brand – they’re affordable, comfortable, and (usually) give good support.

  • Claire @ Live and Love to Eat August 16, 2012, 2:20 pm

    I read a tip once where someone said she wore her sports bra in the shower, washed it with soap or shampoo, and hung it to dry after showering. Not sure how clean they get that way!

  • Sarah August 16, 2012, 2:23 pm

    I use Nikwax basewash product (sold at outdoor stores like REI) for all my athletic gear. It’s specifically meant for technical fabrics and it REALLY gets the stink out!

    A tip I learned from Lululemon was to never mix technical fabric with cottons in the wash. The cotton left pills on my Lulu gear!

  • Laine August 16, 2012, 2:26 pm

    For women who need bras that go above D (or DD or DDD – gah, don’t mention E, F, G or H, they are HUGE!!) check out Freya,

    I’m a 34G/H and they make an amazing sports bra that doesn’t move! And they are machine washable, line dry.

    • Allison August 16, 2012, 5:19 pm

      Do you know if Freya bras are available in Canada? This seems just like what I’m looking for! Thanks for the suggestion.

    • Stephanie C August 16, 2012, 6:49 pm

      I may be totally off here, but isn’t DD technically an E? and DDD an F?

      • Brigid August 17, 2012, 1:21 pm

        In US sizes, typically DD is just DD but DDD is the same as E. A lot of brands don’t like to call it E, though, for whatever reason.

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat August 16, 2012, 2:49 pm

    Ooh these are great tips! I usually just wash mine in cold water, then hang them to dry. I love Champion sports bras – they’re really affordable and comfortable too. Going to check out the bra finder!

  • Laura August 16, 2012, 3:17 pm

    Have you considered the Max 360 bra by Champion? It’s the only Champion sports bra that works for me-I’m like you, I get a “max” support bra and do the “jump test” (which is me standing in place jumping up and down and if there’s too much movement it is returned!) which inevitably fails. But the 360 has great support! Although with the tricky back clasps I always have to ask my husband to hook it for me 🙂

  • Angela @ Happy Fit Mama August 16, 2012, 3:37 pm

    Sports Bras are so complicated! No matter if you are small or large chested, there never is a perfect brand.

  • Kelly August 16, 2012, 4:59 pm

    I love Champion sports bras. They sell them at Target and are very affordable. I think I have them in just about every color.

  • Annette@FitnessPerks August 16, 2012, 5:52 pm

    I totally agree–lots of times bras SAY they are for max support, but no way –I think it’s annoying. But I do think getting fitted is helpful <–and alos knowing what U like. Everyone is different.

    Champion has some I like, actually.

  • Jennifer August 16, 2012, 6:53 pm

    I was barely a B before my sweet boy was born in May – now I’m breastfeeding and falling out of a D! Desperately needing a new sports bra – it’s so weird to need that much support.

  • AmandaRunsNY August 16, 2012, 9:22 pm

    Great advice! I tend to wear my sports bras a few times before washing them because of this washing problem. Also, I just can’t afford to have enough bras on hand.

    On a side note, about your tri coming up, have you considered running once when you know you would need to nurse so you can get an idea of how things would feel? Since you are pumping a lot, you can do it when you would plan to pump instead of when you know Henry actually would want to eat. Or having the husband feed him instead. Just an idea….you know what they say, nothing new on race day!

    • Caitlin August 16, 2012, 9:44 pm

      This is a GREAT IDEA. I will try this.

  • Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut August 17, 2012, 2:40 pm

    The most supportive one I own is my one and only Lululemon sports bra. Naturally…the most expensive one!

  • Aaron August 19, 2012, 7:33 pm

    I find that buying a sports bra one size smaller will guarantee me a good, snug fit! I highly recommend the Lululemon sports bras and the ones at LaSenza (for any Canadians following) are also great (and more affordable)!!

  • miriam December 14, 2012, 12:37 pm

    I just found the best sports bra. It is the panache sport. It is very supportive and passed my “six mile run” test with flying colors. It is also comfortable. No more chaffing or discomfort. It is also cute-no uniboob. I had to buy it online because my size is 34E which is never in any stores.

  • Marsha April 20, 2013, 10:12 pm

    This is all new to me, and I am having a hard time understanding why I should not use fabric softener. Doesn’t it make it softer, smell nice, and reduce static cling? I am not using bra for sports…truth is, my boobs are almost non-existant – very small. I don’t need to wear a bra. But, I purchased a sports bra to keep the nips warm and so the ‘headlights’ can’t be seen when I’m cold. I’d like to launder them like I do all my other clothes…fabric softener, and in the dryer I usually use medium heat.
    Thanks for any advice 🙂
    (50 year old first time sports bra rookie)

Previous post:

Next post:

Healthy Tipping Point