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Chronic Over-Washer? Discover How Often You Should Really Wash your Clothes

My mother always told me that you should never hate anything or anyone. Then she would whisper to herself “except laundry and Shirley down the street.” I was never sure of why she hated Shirley, but the laundry made perfect sense. I was the oldest of 14 kids – my mom had plenty of reasons to hate laundry.

Now that I’m older, and a mother of one, laundry still isn’t my favorite thing. So, I did some research to find out how often I really needed to wash my stuff. I discovered that I was hurting the majority of my clothes and wasting money by washing them after every use.

The amount of laundry detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets I use could all be cut in half if I would wash my clothes less often. Not to mention my utility bills are bound to drop if I start washing certain things only once a week. On top of that, my clothes were getting ruined by my constant washing and drying, so I could make them last even longer.

So here are some guidelines on how often you should really wash your clothes:

JEANS

Jeans can be expensive, so you definitely want to make them last as long as possible. As a rule of thumb, wash your jeans after you’ve worn them three to four times, unless you’ve gotten them noticeably dirty, and always let them air dry. That means if you’re baby’s diaper just gave out all over your pants, you should wash them. But, if you wear them to the grocery store or just around the house, you’ve got a few more rounds to go. For more info on your jeans, check here.

DRESS PANTS/KHAKIS

Dress Pants/Khakis don’t need to be washed but every four to five times, especially if you only wore them to work. Also, all of your dress clothes should be washed with their matching pieces. For example, if you wore your dress pants to work, but not the matching jacket, have them cleaned together so they won’t fade as much.

SKIRTS

Skirts can go several wears without being washed, especially fuller skirts that don’t touch much of your body. Tight fitting skirts or pencil skirts should be washed every other wear. If that seems confusing, here’s an article that breaks similar clothes down into different categories to help you remember.

UNDERCLOTHING

Bras, underwear, and socks are different. Bras should be washed every other wear because they don’t come in direct contact with your underarms. However, I wash mine after every use unless I only had it on for a very short period of time. Another tip is to wash your bras in a gallon sized bucket to keep them from getting tattered or torn in the washing and drying machine. If you don’t have the time for that, buy one of those bra holders in the laundry section at Walmart. They work just as well and keep your bras safe. Obviously, underwear and socks should be washed after every use.

PAJAMAS

Pajamas should be washed twice as often as you wash your sheets. You might not think they get dirty because you’re just sleeping in them, but actually, you shed your skin cells in your pajamas, so they need to get washed often.

BLOUSES & DRESSES

Blouses and dresses can last longer than any other item. As long as they don’t have any stains or odors, you can keep wearing them over and over.

TANK TOPS & T-SHIRTS

Tank tops and T-shirts should be treated like bras and underwear because they come in direct contact with your body. Therefore, they should be washed at least after every other wear, if not more.

BED SHEETS & PILLOWCASES

Bed sheets and pillowcases may seem clean, but they should be washed at least once a week. Like pajamas, you sweat in your sheets and your skin cells come off on them. Not to mention all the dust and dander that can get into your bed. For other bedroom items like comforters and bed skirts you can find some great info here.

TOWELS

Towels should be washed after every other use. While you are drying off a “clean” body, all those dead skin cells and soap scum are coming off on your towel, too. Don’t wait until they stink; wash them. An additional tip is to wash in hot water unless noted differently on the towel. In addition, using detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets don’t help. You should wash your towels in vinegar or water alone. Want to know a cool fact? If your towels stink, it’s not always because you haven’t been washing them as often as you should. It’s usually because you’re using too much detergent and the soap builds up on them. Using vinegar will give them some of their absorbency back as well as keep that musty smell away. You can find a recipe here.

Remember, these are just suggestions to help make your clothes last longer and to get even more money out of all that dirt cheap laundry detergent you get as a Krazy Coupon Lady. While these tips are semi-specific, use them as guidelines. Only you know how dirty your clothes really are, so if you feel like they need to be washed, go ahead and wash them.

This has been a guest post by August from Granite Falls, NC
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!

 

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17 thoughts on “Chronic Over-Washer? Discover How Often You Should Really Wash your Clothes”

  1. I LOVE this! Which one of you was the oldest of 14? BTW: I’m not so good about those sheets. It’s easy to take them off, but it’s a battle to get them back on those b-i-g mattresses when a padded mattress cover is involved. 

  2. Beth Vanderq says:

    lol…my family LOVES clean clothes.  I grew up without a dryer.  We washed our clothes (some on a washboard) and hung dry everything.  A few years ago when my elderly parents decided to get a new washing machine and their first dryer, I found out that they put the clothes to wash through EVERY cycle! I wondered why it took so long for 2 loads of laundry the whole day to complete.  lol  I laughed so hard when I figured out they put it through every single cycle.

  3. Yes.  Absolutely this.  I’ve also discovered that if I make my own powdered laundry detergent (1 bar ivory soap, grated, 2 cups borax, 2 cups washing soda (not baking soda)) then my clothes come out feeling cleaner and they smell like fresh line-dryed laundry because they don’t smell of artificial fragrance.  In a year, I’ve gone through 2 $5 boxes of borax (and I use borax for cleaning sinks and tubs and other things, as well) for a household of two humans, a great dane and three cats.  I haven’t used an entire box of washing soda yet and I think I’ve used two or three bars of ivory.  If you’ve got a really greasy stain, just rub a little dish soap into it.  Artificial fragrance+sweat=STINK.

    • Anonymous says:

      This sounds like something I would like to try, Tay. How do you grate your Ivory bar soap and what is Washing Soda?

  4. Mindy Brouse says:

    I just recently stepped back from washing clothes as often as I was (we have six and they often use the laundry as the way to clean their room! ugh!) to save money and be a better steward (water).  

    Will tweak the list, but it’s handy!  THanks!

    (do you want a large family?  from having 13 siblings to only 1 child make me very curious?  If you do want more and haven’t been able to, I’ll pray (I know that sounds cheesy, but I really will)

    • Anonymous says:

      Not at all cheesy. Prayer works and God listens.

      • Yes He does! Everytime! Many answered prayers and miracles for our family! Love the Lord!

         Here is another tip too! Save money when you dry your clothes by throwing in a large fluffly dry towel and cut down on half the drying time! It really works! God bless you! Lisa

  5. I’ve made a habit of wearing to work on Monday the outfit that I wore to church on Sunday. If you have a steam fresh cycle on your washer, you can pop your clothes in there to help them snap back into shape and give them a slight cleaning. 

    Also, cardigans…those don’t come into contact with your body much and they can go a few wears before washing. 

    However, I don’t wear anything 3-4 times.  I feel like things really lose its shape after two wearings and needs to be restored with a good washing.

  6. Another tip for helping your clothes last longer is not to dry them. I hang dry pretty much all of my clothes because the heat of the dryer breaks down the fibers faster

  7. Edie Webster says:

    Apparently the mother of the author hated birth control, too. But the tip about the towels is a new one to me, very interesting. May have to try that.

    • Anonymous says:

      Apparently..you have learned much about etiquette and manners in your life so far..the comment about the author’s mother is uncalled for and totally off topic..and actually downright rude.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t think this mother hated birth control but maybe just loved children and life in general.  

  8. I sweat alot so I have to wash all my clothes after I wear them.  I do wear my jeans at least twice if they don’t get stains but nothing else.  Wish I could alot of items more than once.

  9. I was already following many of these suggestions after my family doctor recommended we stop trying to be so germ-a-phobic. In general, many people are so uptight about it, but really are cleaner than they believe. He taught me to remind myself that “a little dirt won’t hurt”. However, having twin 3-year-old boys means what I don’t wash of my own clothing, I make up for in theirs!

  10. Interesting article, but I doubt I could follow these suggestions.  This just sounds filthy to let clothes go 2, 3, or even 4 wearings without a wash!  Wash my pajamas only twice a week!? Yuk!