We all wash our clothes to keep ourselves and our clothes smelling so fresh and oh-so-clean, but there is such a thing as too much washing and too little. There are downsides to both extremes: laundering your clothes more than you need to can shorten their lifespan and wear them out quickly, but washing too rarely can be unhygienic and cause a lot of icky bacteria growth. Here’s a general guide to follow:
Of course, this guide doesn’t apply to the days when excessive sweating or accidental spills happen, and to those who have different hygiene preferences.
And some extras, in case you are interested:
Here are 10 ways to break out of the wash cycle.
1. Inspect Before Tossing
Before you mindlessly toss your clothes into the laundry basket at the end of the day, consider if they are truly soiled or not. Items like underwear and undershirts or exercise clothing will certainly need more washing than, say, a sweatshirt or jeans that have been layered or otherwise kept out of dirt’s way. A lot of the clothes that are currently in our laundry baskets are — for all intents and purposes — clean. So, break the habit and learn the basics of how long certain items last without a full wash.
2. Hang to Dry Breathe
It’s OK to do a little sniff test to ensure your clothing is still somewhat fresh after a day of wear. What will keep items that way longer is picking them up off the floor and hanging on an open rack to let air circulate around and through the fibers. Plus, letting them linger on the floor only invites more dirt (or, if you have pets, worse!) and opportunity for wrinkles to develop.
3. Skip Washing Entirely
For those items that don’t need immediate washing, push the envelope a bit. Tullia Jack, PhD student at RMIT University, challenged a group of 30 people to wear the same pair of jeans at least five days each week for a three-month period without washing them. They discovered that after all those wears, they “weren’t visibly dirty and they didn’t get smelly.” Now, you don’t need to go the whole three month challenge, but start with a week and work your way up to a month. You might surprise yourself!
And just because you’re skipping the total washing experience doesn’t mean you can’t treat little stains that might plague your otherwise clean clothing. Martha Stewart has a rather elaborate guide for removing stains from clothing. Also check out our 14 Effective Grease and Oil Stain Removal Tips and 6 Secret Homemade Stain Removers.
Sources and further reading:
• How Many Wears Before You Need to Wash by Emily Co on PopSugar
• The When-to-Wash-It Handbook: Winter Edition by Sarah Jio on Real Simple
• How Often Should You Wash Your Clothes? by LEANNEJA on Organize your stuff now
• You’re Washing Your Clothes Too Often! (What to Do Instead) by Ashley Marcin on Wise Bread
• How long do YOU wear your pyjamas before washing them? By MADLEN DAVIES on DailyMail
• How often should you really wash that? A laundry guide by Mary McCoy on SheKnows
• How often to wash your sheets, towels, and clothes on Consumer Reports
• Do I need to wash this? on Cleaning Institute
• How often you should wash your sheets, bras, hair and more! by Carole Nicksin on CNN
• Chronic Over-Washer? Discover How Often You Should Really Wash your Clothes on The Krazy Coupon Lady