The UK Telegraph reported this past week that British women spend the equivalent of over $4000 on brassieres over a lifetime, but only wash these undergarments six times a year.

This information came from a new study where researchers discovered that each woman averages 16 different bras in her lingerie drawer at any one time – and adds about 4 to her collection each year – yet only washes them about every 8 weeks. Each bra may be worn as much as 7 times before their next laundering.

The research was funded by a company called Dr Beckmann, which produces a lingerie stain remover called Lingerie Whitener.

I don’t know who these researchers interviewed, but it seems a bit crazy to go that long before washing any item of underwear. After all, this is what you wear right next to your skin.

In my case, at least half of my bra collection is hitting the laundry every week – but then again, I don’t own 16 of them either. I also don’t wear them for more than a couple days total before they get washed.

It’s not just that you might offend the person next to you with an unusual smell if you don’t launder your bras: some experts warn that bacteria can build up in the material of the bra and could cause skin irritation. Bras are subject to a variety of insults, including stale perfume, body lotion, self-tanning lotion and – of course – sweat. Lack of washing means that the bras begin to look grimy, and can contribute to a shorter life for the garment.

However, infrequent washing wasn’t the most surprising finding of the study. It turns out that some women never wash their bras! One high profile follower of this particular method of bra care is fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. She claims that certain bras do not perform their function as well once they are washed, and that she loses some support if she launders them. Instead, she puts talcum powder on them to clean them.

Seems to me that after awhile, they’d get a bit gummy. Perhaps that provides more support.