Wear Vs. Wash: Our Guide To Living With Laundry

Wash vs. Wear

How Often Should You Wash Your Clothes?

We’re all guilty of smelling our dirty clothes, deeming them acceptable for polite society, and then putting them on day after day after day. It’s perfectly fine to do this occasionally, and obviously it’s way easier than doing laundry. But be warned — some pretty gross things can happen when you don’t wash your clothes.

So, it may be time to pump the brakes on the old sniff test. While your clothes may smell fine (for now), they can get pretty darn germ-y pretty darn quick. And that’s because humans are, in a word, gross. According to an article, “we’re constantly shedding skin cells, oozing skin oils, and secreting sweat onto everything we’re wearing. In fact, a human sheds about 500 million skin cells, and a liter of sweat, every day.”


What you should do: Wash after every wear

As weird and strange and GROSS as it may sound, according to a study, 45% of Americans have owned up to wearing their underwear for two days or longer (thirteen percent claimed to have worn the same pair for a week or more). We understand being in the occasional bind when you reach into your drawer to find no drawers, but you should be wearing a fresh pair every day.


What you should do: Wash when dirty, once a week, or every 6 months

About 27% of people wear their jeans about three times before washing. About 21% wear their denim at least five or more times before putting them in the wash. For jeans, 5-6 wearings. If you really want to maintain the longevity of denim, always turn clothes inside out and opt for hand washing. Although there are some that advocate washing as little as possible. In fact, the director of brand concepts and special projects for Levi Strauss & Co. washes his once every six months, noted Emily Co on POPSUGAR. That’s good news for those of us who want to push laundry day off as long as possible.


What you should do: Wash every 3-4 wears

About 55% of people surveyed said they’ve worn the same pajamas for an entire week. Pajamas should be washed after 3 or 4 wears (if you shower before bed, you may get a few more wears before washing).


What you should do: Wash when smelly, once a week, or every 5 wears

About 35% of women say they wear a bra at least five times before washing it. If you’re switching between different bras, you can wear them a few times before washing, just be sure to give your bra a rest day in between wearing to give the elastic a chance to regain its shape. If it is hot sticky weather, wash them after each wearing. Perspiration wears down the elastic so washing actually extends the life of the bra.


What you should do: Wash after every wear!

Take care of your feet. No more to say on this, it’s simple—don’t re-wear socks!


What you should do: Wash immediately after every wear

The short answer is no, it’s not recommended to re-wear your workout clothes because bacteria and yeast tend to rub off onto your clothing, especially after you sweat. The longer answer though, is that it’s actually not bad ALL the time- it depends on quite a few factors, such as how much you sweat in the clothes, whether you stuffed it in a hamper or left it out, and even the type of fabric. It’s probably worse to re-wear your high-quality synthetic workout clothes, mainly because of the stench. Cotton is better to re-wear, but be careful if you’re sick or immunocompromised. If you MUST re-wear something the next day, leave your clothes somewhere to dry quickly, as opposed to throwing them in a damp hamper. Leggings worn for leisure purposes can be washed after 1-3 wears – of course, this varies greatly on how long you’ve been wearing them for at a time and how much your body has been sweating.


What you should do: Wash after every wear!

I put an exclamation mark there because shirts seem to be the one article of clothing that people seem comfortable re-wearing several times without a wash. In truth, shirts should be treated similarly to underwear, since they are always in close contact with your skin and tend to be the first line of defense against sweat. This is particularly important for white garments that can develop yellow underarm stains if not washed correctly. So don’t skimp — wash your shirts with diligence! There is one minor exception, and that’s if you have only worn a shirt for a couple of hours, in which case you can probably wear it again the next day if it passes the smell test.


What you should do: Wash every 1-2 weeks

These items can be worn a few times before washing. Unless it is hot out and you are sweating—you’d want to wash it pretty immediately so the sweat doesn’t stain in. Also, if you encounter any other type of stain or smudge, throw them in the wash to rid of it as soon as you can. Since these are items you use to dress professionally or nice, make sure they’re representing you well!


What you should do: Wash every 2-5 wears

After two to five wears, if you wear another garment like a blouse or t-shirt under your sweater. You should wash cotton, silk, and cashmere after two to three wears, since these pieces are more delicate. Wool and durable man-made blends, such as acrylic and polyester, can withstand five wears.


What you should do: Wash every 3-5 wears

Suits typically can be worn several times during normal use before dry cleaning (3-4 times for wool and 4-5 times for synthetics). Depending on your lifestyle or environment you may need to dry clean more often. Smoky bars, smog or smelly environments or if your suit gets stained may mean that you need to clean them more often.


What you should do: Wash every 2 months

Once every two months of wear. Of course, jackets and coats often take the beating of our daily wear in colder months. Bumping into dirty spots or having food dropped on the sleeves. Although they are usually made with more durable fabrics and can be wiped off or spot cleaned, there may be certain moments in life where you want or need to wash your jacket more often.


What you should do: Wash every 2-5 wears

Pay more attention to these often ignored items and wash three to five times a season. (Think about the facial oil, makeup, and perfume buildup, plus the germs you pick up with gloves). For best measure, wash every few wears to keep the nasty smudges or un-seeable funk at bay.


What you should do: Wash after every wear

This makes some sense, since swimsuits are basically a form of underwear. In addition to the fact that they absorb sweat and whatever is in the water, swimsuit material can be damaged by the ingredients in sunscreen. So play it safe, and wash your trunks and bikinis when you get back from the beach or pool.

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