If you’ve ever struggled with whether you could wear your favorite top just one more time before washing it, struggle no more. We’ve got 19 tips on when to wash some of our most essential clothes. You’ll be surprised how long some clothes can go.
First, some advice: Wash whites and silks after every wear. If you want your white clothes to maintain their color, you need to wash them a lot; you don’t want dirt and sweat to ruin the original hue. Silks absorb sweat almost too easily, so give it a wash after every wear, too.
1. Bras: 3 – 4 wears
Over-washing wears away the bra’s elasticity. If you use the washer instead of by hand, go for the most gentle cycle, and use a mesh bag to keep the bra from tangling and twisting. Lay it flat to dry.
Exception: Wash a sports bra after every use.
2. Blouses: after every wear
You might get away with a couple of extra wearings if you don’t perspire or if you only wear it for an hour or two.
Tip: Go easy on the underarm deodorant. It has a tendency to discolor and leave a residue on your clothes.
3. Button-down shirts: 2 – 3 wears
You might stretch it one more time if you wear undershirts. Line dry the shirts followed by ironing. Or dry clean.
Tip: Tell your dry cleaner to ditch the starch so your button-down lasts longer.
4. Coats: it depends
This varies depending on the type of coat you’re wearing. These guidelines will help keep you on track.
- Down parkas: Twice a season. Wash puffy outerwear in cold water and let it tumble dry on low. Throw in two to three clean tennis balls to redistribute the feathers. Dry completely.
- Fleece: After 6 or 7 wears. Turn inside out and wash it with like colors. Rinse twice so there's no detergent residue. Air-dry.
- Leather and suede: Once a season. We recommend leaving the cleaning to an expert. Brush it often to keep it in stellar shape. Don’t store these jackets in plastic bags or bins—the jacket will dry out and crack.
- Wool: Once or twice a season. Hand wash using a wool-safe liquid detergent. Every so often, use a stiff brush to remove debris, and touch up the collar and cuffs with a damp cloth and mild soap.
5. Dresses: 1 – 3 wears
Dry clean more formal dresses after every wear to preserve them.
6. Hoodies: 4 – 6 wears
Zip up the zipper and turn it inside out. Wash the hoodie on a short cycle with cold water on the gentle cycle. Hang to dry.
7. Hosiery and socks: after every wear
If we’re talking pantyhose, turn them inside out and put them in a washer bag. Use a mild detergent on the delicate cycle. Skip the dryer. Or, hand-wash them and hang to dry.
Desperate moment: If you find yourself without a clean pair of socks, throw a dirty pair in the dryer for 10 minutes with a dryer sheet to deodorize them.
8. Jackets and blazers: 4 – 6 wears
Since jackets and blazers don’t touch much skin, you can go longer without cleaning, and most require dry clean only. Still, they can easily hold smells. This is where the sniff test comes in.
Bonus: You can save some money on dry cleaning by spot cleaning the collar, sleeves, and elbows yourself.
9. Jeans: 7 – 10 wears
You heard right. That’s a lot of wears. Some go as far to say wash them when they smell—no sooner and no longer. We’ll let you decide. When you do decide to wash them, turn them inside out, with a gentle detergent, on the delicate cycle.
Tip: If your jeans begin to smell, put them into the freezer overnight. This kills the bacteria and freshens them up without risking color fading.
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10. Pants: 4 – 6 wears
To keep those chinos looking fresh, give them a wash at least every few weeks.
11. Pajamas: 3 – 4 wears
You can even get a few extra wears out of them if you shower before bed.
12. Robes: 3 – 4 wears
Good bathrobes should be washed in a full cycle, with extra time for rinsing to ensure all the detergent is removed. Immediately throw the robe into the dryer, or spread out to dry.
Tip: Never leave a wet robe in the washing machine—the fibers begin to form bacteria, mold, and bad odor.
13. Skirts: 3 – 4 wears
You can go even longer if you wear leggings so the skirt doesn’t touch your skin.
14. Suits: 4 – 5 wears
When your suit needs cleaning, go to the dry cleaner. In the meantime, to keep up with maintenance, brush the suit, air it out, and spot clean when necessary.
Tip: Always dry clean all coordinating pieces so everything wears at the same speed.
15. Swimwear: after every wear
Hand-wash your swimsuit in the sink using a mild detergent. Let it soak for up to 30 minutes, then rinse with cool water. Gently roll your suit in a clean dry towel, lightly pressing to remove the excess water.
What Not to Do:
- Don't soak your swimsuit overnight. It’ll loosen the fibers.
- Don't dry a swimsuit in direct sunlight. This causes fading.
- Don't throw your swimsuit in the dryer. It’ll weaken the elasticity of the spandex.
- Don't hang a swimsuit. It alters the shape.
- Don't sit on rough surfaces while wearing your swimsuit. This can lead to snags. Always lay down a towel first.
16. Tank tops and t-shirts: 1 – 2 wears
Treat these 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.
17. Underwear: after every wear
Do we really need to say this?
18. Winter hats, scarves, and gloves: 3 – 5 times a season
Hand-wash knits, and dry clean your leather gloves and structured hats.
Tip: Don’t leave gloves in a coat’s pockets. The lining can get damp from your hand perspiration and could lead to smelling like mildew.
19. Workout clothes: after every wear
If you’re involved in low-impact exercise, or the material is made of performance fabric like water-resistant nylon, you can probably stretch it to every few wears.
Tip: Remember to wash your gym bag once a month as well—it deserves some washing love, too.
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