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How many wears can you get out of clothing items before washing them?

How many wears can you get out of clothing items before washing them?
Posted at 10:14 PM, Apr 11, 2024

If you’ve ever picked up a pair of jeans or another piece of clothing and debated whether to put them in the hamper or hang them back up in the closet, you’re not alone. Given the time and effort that’s required to do laundry, it’s not surprising that people prefer to get the most amount of wear they possibly can out of their clothes before having to tackle another load — especially if the item in question is one that was only worn for a short amount of time. Plus, washing clothing too often can cause unnecessary damage, wearing the material down and causing colors to fade more quickly.

So, how long can you wear certain clothing items before washing them? To find out, we consulted two laundry experts, Toby Schulz, the CEO and co-founder at Maid2Match, and Hyacinth Tucker, the owner of The Laundry Basket LLC, to get their opinions on how often certain garments generally need to be washed and what to consider.

Both agree that while there are no hard or fast rules, the answers largely depend on the type of fabric, how long you wore it, whether it was in direct contact with your skin, and if the item got stained or otherwise soiled in the process. So, the next time you find yourself debating whether to wear an outfit one more time or toss it into your laundry hamper, take into consideration these general guidelines for how frequently you need to wash specific clothing items.

MORE: Why you should put a wet wipe in the washing machine with your laundry

wash and wear infographic

How Often Should You Wash Jeans?

“Denim actually holds up quite well with less frequent washing,” Schulz told Simplemost. He recommends wearing jeans five to 10 times before washing them.

Of course, if your jeans become visibly dirty or you sweat in them, you’ll want to clean them right away.

How Often Should You Wash Leggings?

Since leggings are often worn for workouts, like yoga or Pilates, Schulz recommends they be washed much more frequently than denim.

“Even with moisture-wicking fabric, you should wash leggings every one to three wears. If you went through a particularly intense workout, wash the leggings immediately,” he said. “If you’re only wearing them for quick errands, though, you can stretch this to every five wears.”

How Often Should You Wash Your Bra?

Bras should ideally be washed after every two to three wears to maintain proper hygiene, shape and elasticity,” Tucker told Simplemost.

When deciding when to wash bras or shapewear, you may also want to consider how long you wore it and what you were doing during that time. Bras worn for over 10 hours a day or during outdoor activities in hot, humid weather may need more frequent washing.

MORE: Dryer sheet alternatives: Why you may not want to toss in a dryer sheet with your next load of laundry

jeans bras leggings

How Often Should You Wash Pajamas?

When it comes to pajamas or nightgowns, the answer of how many times to wear them can vary depending on a couple of factors, like if you shower before bed and if you’re a hot or sweaty sleeper.

“Pajamas can be worn two to three times before washing, as long as they are worn for sleeping only and not other activities,” said Tucker.

However, Schulz believes you can get up to a week out of them, as long as you shower before bed and don’t sweat a ton.

“If it’s particularly hot or you don’t shower, wear your pajamas at most four times before washing,” said Schulz.

How Often Should You Wash Sweaters?

It’s always a good idea to check a sweater’s label to make sure it’s machine washable, as some made out of natural fibers may be dry clean only. Regardless, Tucker recommends that you can wear a sweater multiple times before laundering it, as long as it was worn over other clothing and didn’t come into direct contact with your skin.

“Sweaters made of wool or cashmere can usually be worn three to four times before cleaning, while synthetic or cotton sweaters may need more frequent washing due to odor retention,” she said.

How Often Should You Wash T-shirts?

Both Schulz and Tucker agreed that T-shirts generally need to be washed after every time you wear them. So, if you’re wearing a classic T-shirt and jeans combo, keep in mind that your T-shirt will need to be laundered much more frequently than your jeans.

“No ifs or buts – you should wash T-shirts and tank tops after every wear. They’re in direct contact with your skin, so they absorb a lot of sweat and oils over the course of the day,” said Schulz.

t-shirts pajamas sweaters

Now that you know how often experts recommend washing your clothes, read this cheat sheet to understand what all those complicated laundry instructions on clothing labels mean.

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