bra facts

Bras. We wear them almost every day. From bralettes to sportswear, bra styles vary drastically across markets. Some are meant to be seen, others unseen — but all hold beautiful parts of our bodies!

You may not know a few crazy things about bras, bra care and breast health. Because they’re a huge part of your life, we’ve collected a few fun facts to enlighten you.

1. Say ‘no’ to excessive washing.

The more your bra goes through the wash, the shorter its lifespan. Frequently washing your bra eats away at its elasticity. If you sweat a lot throughout the day, it is always more hygienic to wash your bra after every use. If you don’t, however, aside from bras you wear while working out, you should wash your bra around once every two weeks. The dryer can damage your bra further, so be sure to air dry afterward!

Although this has been a highly debated topic online, a wash every two weeks seems to be the average response and will help your bra live a little longer!

2. Keep sticky bras sticky.

While a regular bra can survive a machine wash, an adhesive bra (or sticky bra) cannot. To make the most of your sticky bra, designers suggest hand-washing it with water and a mild soap. Sticky bras vary in lifespan, but all of them run out of adhesive material eventually. To get as many uses as you can out of your bra, store it in a closed container where the adhesive can’t collect dust or residue.

In addition, keep your girls healthy by always washing off any material the stickiness leaves behind. It is important for your physical health to keep your breasts clean and free of the adhesive material.

3. A bra is your shield.

Ever wonder what “bra” stands for? “Bra” is short for the French word “Brassiere,” originally meaning “a soldier’s arm guard or shield.” The word became synonymous with “Bodice” first, and then became commonly used to describe the modern bra in the 1920’s.

Remember that next time you’re strapping yourself up in the morning: it’s the equivalent to a soldier’s shield!


4. Bras don’t cause cancer.

Despite the rumors and wives’ tales, bras do not, in fact, cause breast cancer. In the 90s, it was widely believed that bras trap toxins in the breast tissue and inhibit lymphatic drainage. This, however, has no science to support it and wearing a bra has no correlation to developing cancer.

So rest easy knowing your soft support won’t make you sick. Check out these reasons to get an annual mammogram instead!

5. The average bra size is larger than you’d think.

If you’re one of those women who remembers feeling sheepish about your seemingly unusually large bust in high school gym class, you really don’t need to be! The average bra size in the United States is a 34DD, and Linda’s Bra Salon in NYC states that their top sellers are 32F and 34G. Whatever your size, your bust is beautiful and you shouldn’t feel self-conscious.

6. Bras don’t cause or prevent breasts from sagging.

If you’ve heard that wearing a bra all the time makes your breasts sag, you heard wrong. Likewise, the wives’ tale about bras helping keep breasts perky is also false! It’s believed that the stretching of the suspensory ligaments in a breast causes it to sag, and many studies have been conducted to support the idea that wearing a bra prevents those ligaments from stretching. However, no study has been conclusive.

It’s best to just wear a bra because you want to, or choose not to wear a bra if you don’t want to. As long as you’re taking care of your breasts and your bras in their respective ways, a bra cannot really help or hurt your health in any way (besides maybe when they break and the wiring digs into your skin — ouch!).

Bras: love ’em or leave ’em? What are your thoughts?

Illustration via Melanie Loon



  1. Helpful blog! Taking care of your inner wears and keeping it clean is very very important. It is important to take care of your personal hygiene as well. The tips that you mentioned about bra care is very much helpful and should be followed by every individual. Thanks for sharing this..:)

  2. Interesting to note the average bra size! I’m a 36A/34B and I was unable to find bras in multiple department stores. Part of the reason must be that they are carrying more of the larger sizes.

  3. I wash my bras in the washer with cold water but hang them to dry afterwards. This helps them to retain their shape as well as last longer.

    1. I am a medical anthropologist breast cancer researcher and co-author of Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras. My research is alluded to in this article, although this article is wrong about the bra-cancer link.
      Many studies now show that wearing tight bras for long hours daily is a leading cause of breast cancer. Bras also cause breast cysts and pain, and makes the breasts droopy.
      Bra-free women have about the same risk of breast cancer as men, while the tighter and longer the bra is worn daily the higher the risk rises, to over 100 times higher for a 24/7 bra user compared to bra-free.
      To see if your bra is harming your breasts, go bra-free for one month. Most women who try this report that breast cysts and pain go away, as their breasts lift and tone. It is also easier to breathe without the bra constricting the chest, and women report improved self-esteem.
      For more information, including references to supportive peer-reviewed studies, see my website BrasAndBreastCancer dot org.

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