We're all probably guilty of not washing them often enough. An expert shares tips for the best cleaning method and how many bras you should own.

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Portrait of a attractive young woman doing her washing inside of a laundry room during the day
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If this was a case for finger pointing, we’d all be directing blame at ourselves for neglecting our most tried-and-true piece of clothing. But frankly, the chatter of conflicting methods creates fuss and ambiguity. To hand wash or toss in the machine? Each wear, weekly, or rarely?

Enter our brassiere expert: Danny Koch, the fourth generation owner of New York City’s Town Shop, a mecca of all things lace, lingerie, and fit for over 125 years. He stepped in to debunk myths and eliminate misconceptions when it comes to laundering our beloved undergarments. Here, it’s about more than hygiene, as proper care can enhance the article’s longevity, thereby improving the wearer’s posture, clothing fit, and over time, the appearance of stretch marks. Ready to upgrade?

How often should you really wash your bra?

Koch recommends every other wear, or by the third, maximum. The reason? “The main thing you’re trying to do is keep the integrity of the bra for as long as possible,” Koch says. And when you’re strapped in for 10 to 12 hours a day, the garment not only collects oils from your skin and deodorant, but the elastic stretches and loses its form through wear. And when you’re investing anywhere from $50 to $100 for a quality piece, you need consistent care to maximize your investment.

What’s the best way to wash an underwire bra?

If you gulped at the thought of a bi-wear wash, Koch assures that routine cleaning quickly becomes second nature overtime. And as for methodology: “There’s only one way,” says Koch, a hand-wash purist. Unlike most other clothing, bras contain 35 to 40 pieces, as well as metal, which will quickly weather in the washing machine. Instead he tells clients to opt for a low-suds detergent, like Forever New or the customer-favorite Soak, and simply wash in the bathroom sink for 4 to 5 minutes before hanging on the shower rod or towel rack to dry overnight. No need for a half-hour commitment.

How many bras do we really need?

Get your calculators out! For full return on investment, opt for rotating through four bras a year, with each getting 90 to 100 wears. Koch stresses the importance of alternating, allowing the bra to regain its shape and elastic to breathe between wears.

What’s the right way to store a bra?

There’s no rocket science to storage as long as the bra is protected and cushioned. Simply fold the cups and put away; no need for lingerie bags or additional padding. For packing, Koch does recommend a layer of soft clothes (like t-shirts or sports bras) between the garment and suitcase for cushioning.

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This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com