In a perfect world, your favorite sports bras would recover as quickly as you do after a workout. In reality, no amount of recovery time will keep them from getting worn down. Too many washes and wears can affect both your comfort and your bra's performance.
A typical sports bra should only last about one year — even less if you do high-impact workouts. You'll know it's time to toss it when you begin to chafe, if the bra rides up when you lift your arms, or if it's just not doing its job and your chest moves too much during a workout. Of course, hand-washing a sports bra will make it last longer, but if you use a machine, make sure to place the bra in a mesh bag and let it drip-dry to avoid warping.
What about those compression garments that we love so much? Those should only last six months to a year. They should be living up to their name and boasting a super-snug fit. You know it's time to toss compression socks, leggings, and the like when they get easier and easier to slide on. You can extend the lifespan of compression garments by washing them after every wear, since body oils and dirt can deteriorate the compression material. But, be sure not to machine-dry — and definitely avoid wringing and twisting. Moisture-wicking tops and swimsuits need to be taken care of, too, or they'll become less effective at doing their job.
For the full story, and a handy graphic on when, exactly, to retire your favorite workout gear, click through to Women's Health. (Women's Health)