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How often should I wash my surgical bra?

Wearing a surgical bra after surgery is an important part of the recovery process. The bra provides compression and support to help minimize swelling and discomfort. However, it’s also important to wash your surgical bra regularly to keep it clean and hygienic.

How often should you wash a surgical bra?

Most experts recommend washing your surgical bra every 1-2 days during the first week after surgery. After that, you can wash the bra every 2-3 days or as needed if it gets dirty or sweaty.

Here are some general guidelines on washing frequency:

  • First week after surgery: Wash every 1-2 days
  • 2-6 weeks after surgery: Wash every 2-3 days
  • 6 weeks + after surgery: Wash 2-3 times per week or as needed

Always follow the specific washing instructions provided by your surgeon. The above frequency recommendations are general guidelines only.

Why it’s important to wash your surgical bra regularly

Here are some key reasons to wash your surgical bra often:

  • Prevents infection – A dirty or sweaty bra can harbor bacteria that could lead to infection around the incision site or surgical area.
  • Reduces irritation – Sweat, dirt, and dead skin cells can cause skin irritation if allowed to build up in the bra.
  • Minimizes odor – Frequent washing keeps odor at bay.
  • Maintains compression – Soiling and stretching out can degrade the bra’s compression ability over time.

Tips for washing your surgical bra

Follow these tips for safely washing your surgical bra:

  • Hand wash in cool or lukewarm water using a mild soap.
  • Don’t use hot water – it can degrade elasticity.
  • Avoid chlorine bleach and fabric softener.
  • Don’t put your bra in the washing machine or dryer.
  • Lay flat or hang to air dry. Don’t wring or twist.
  • Check for excessive wear each time you wash. Replace if needed.

Signs it’s time to replace your surgical bra

You’ll need to replace your surgical bra once it starts to show signs of excessive stretching, wear or deterioration. Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • The bra has lost significant compression and support.
  • The fabric looks misshapen, overly stretched out, or torn.
  • Underwire, hooks, or straps are bent, damaged, or detached.
  • The bra causes skin irritation, chafing or discomfort when worn.
  • The bra has a persistent odor even after washing.

Most surgical bras should last 4-6 weeks with proper care and washing. But don’t hesitate to replace it sooner if you notice any of the above signs.

Special considerations for washing mastectomy bras

If you’ve had a mastectomy, here are some additional washing tips for your post-surgery mastectomy bra:

  • Avoid submerging the bra in water during the first 2 weeks after surgery. Spot clean as needed.
  • Use a mild, fragrance-free soap made for sensitive skin.
  • Air dry completely before wearing again.
  • Have a backup bra available so you can rotate between wash days.
  • Inspect skin under breast form liner after each wash. Discontinue use if there is irritation.

Be extra gentle when washing a mastectomy bra and speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about proper care and cleaning.


Can I just spot clean my surgical bra sometimes instead of fully washing?

Light spot cleaning can be done between full washes, especially during the first week after surgery. Use a damp washcloth with mild soap and gently wipe the inside cups and any areas that come in direct contact with your skin. But full washes are still needed 1-2 times per day.

How should I dry my surgical bra?

Air drying is best. Lay your washed bra flat on a towel or hang it up to air dry fully. Avoid using the dryer or wringing out excess water, as this can damage the bra’s shape and compression.

What kind of soap should I use?

Use a very mild, fragrance-free soap when hand washing your surgical bra. Avoid detergents with dyes, fragrances or other harsh chemicals. Baby shampoo or castile soap are good options.

Can I wash my surgical bra in the washing machine?

No, you should always hand wash your surgical bra and avoid the washing machine and dryer. The agitation and high heat can degrade the bra’s fabric, elasticity and compression ability over time.

How can I disinfect my bra between washes?

You can help disinfect your bra between full washes by spraying it with 70% isopropyl alcohol. Make sure the alcohol fully dries before wearing the bra again. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used.

The bottom line

Wearing a clean surgical bra is essential for proper hygiene and recovery after surgery. For most surgeries, plan to wash your surgical bra every 1-2 days during the first week, then every 2-3 days after that. Always wash by hand using mild soap and air dry fully. Replace the bra if it shows signs of deterioration. Speak to your surgeon if you have any questions about properly caring for your surgical bra.