The average American will throw away 600 pieces of clothing over the course of their lifetime and the main reasons for discarding clothing include damage to clothes, shrinkage, and discoloring. So, how often should you wash your clothes to avoid these issues and extend the life of your wardrobe?
The answer to this question really depends on a variety of factors, including how often you wear an item, the type of fabric, and the level of dirt or sweat on the garment. A good rule of thumb is to wash most items before the first wear and then after every 1-5 wears (depending on the garment). If you are someone that sweats profusely or if you tend to stain your clothes with makeup, sweat, or deodorant then you should wash your clothes more often.
Wash New Clothing Items Before You Wear Them
By washing your new clothing items before wearing them, you give the fabric a chance to relax and release any additional wrinkles from being packaged. In addition, this will help remove any sizing or fabric treatments that may have been applied during the manufacturing process.
How to Wash Clothes
There are a number of ways to wash clothes, but the most common methods are via washing machines or hand washing.
When using the washing machine to wash your clothes, use the gentle or delicate cycle on your washer and always use cold water. Be sure to read the care instructions on the garment before washing, as some fabrics should not be washed in a machine.
Hand washing clothes is a more delicate process and can be more time-consuming, but it is the best way to clean certain types of fabrics. Fill a sink or basin with cold water and a tiny bit of detergent. In the basin of water, swish the clothes around, being careful not to wring or stretch them, and then rinse with cool water. Hang the clothes to dry or lay them flat on a towel.
How Often Should You Wash Your Clothes:
Daily Wear Items
Wardrobe staples such as t-shirts, tank tops, and camisoles should be washed after every wear. If you sweat a lot or your clothing tends to stain easily, wash your favorite pieces more often. Pants and jeans should also be cleaned after each wear if they are part of your daily uniform. The dirtier the item, the more often it should be washed.
Undergarments such as bras, panties, and socks should be washed after every wear. They tend to get sweaty, dirty, and stinky more quickly than other items in your wardrobe. This is especially true for individuals that sweat a lot or who do not use deodorant.
If you are a regular exerciser, then you know that your workout clothes can get pretty stinky. To avoid bacteria build-up and the funky smell, wash your gym clothes after each use. If you have multiple sets of workout clothes, you can rotate them and wash them every other time you work out.
Special Occasion Clothes
If you only wear your special occasion clothes once or twice a year, then you do not need to wash them after each wear. However, it is still a good idea to give them a quick clean before storing them away. This will help prevent any unwanted smells and keep the fabric in good condition.
How to Keep Clothes Clean and Fresh at All Times
The best way to keep your clothes clean, fresh, and in good condition is by taking them to the dry cleaner or using an experienced laundry service. Most items only need to be taken in about once every 3-4 wears. However, if you tend to sweat a lot or you are prone to stains, then you may need to take them in more often. There are also a few other simple things you can do to help keep your clothes clean and fresh between washes.
- Avoid leaving clothes in the sun or in a hot car. The heat can cause the fabric to fade, shrink, and wrinkle.
- Do not wear the same piece of clothing two days in a row. This will allow it to air out and will help reduce any funky smells.
- Store workout clothes in a clean, ventilated bag. The more open space there is, the better. If you are not able to store your clothing right after the gym, then avoid throwing them all together in one big pile. This will help reduce any bacteria build-up on the fabric and prevent the smell from transferring to other items.
- Hang clothes to dry when possible. This will help keep them from getting wrinkled and will help them last longer.
- Use a fabric freshener to help get rid of any unwanted smells. These can be purchased at most drugstores or grocery stores.
When It Is Time for a New Wardrobe
No matter how well you take care of your clothes, there eventually comes a time when you need to invest in a new wardrobe. If your clothes are starting to look faded, stained, or suffering from shrinkage, then it is definitely time for some new pieces. Before you go out and spend a fortune on new clothes, take a look at your current wardrobe and see what can be salvaged. There are many ways to stretch the life of your clothes and make them last longer. Here are a few tips:
- Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. The colder the water, the less likely it is to fade, shrink, or stretch the fabric. This also helps save on energy costs and keeps clothing looking much newer for longer.
- Use a color-catching sheet in your dryer. These sheets catch any color that may transfer from one garment to another during the drying process. This will help prevent colors from transferring between items and will save on dry cleaning costs.
- Hang clothes to dry whenever possible. Many people are tempted to use the “quick” setting on their dryer, but this can cause fabrics to shrink and stretch over time. If you do not have the space to hang your clothing, then at least take out any items that may wrinkle while drying, such as t-shirts and jackets.
- Be careful when storing clothing. Dark, enclosed spaces are never the best option. It is also a good idea to avoid stacking any delicate or thin pieces of material on top of each other. This can cause the fabric to stretch over time, which leads to unwanted wrinkles.
- Use an effective fabric protectant. There are many products on the market that can help protect your clothes from spills and stains. If you are someone who tends to have accidents, then this may be a good investment for you.
- Use a professional laundry delivery service or a dry cleaner. This is the best way to keep your clothes in good condition and looking their best. A good dry cleaner or laundry service will be able to get rid of any tough stains or odors that you may have trouble getting rid of on your own. They will also help preserve your fabrics and prevent them from stretching or fading over time.
By following these tips, you can help keep your clothes in good condition and avoid having to discard them prematurely due to shrinkage, damage, or discoloration. Washing your clothes regularly will also help keep them smelling fresh and looking new for longer. So, how often should you wash your clothes? The answer really depends on the individual, but again, a good rule of thumb is to wash them before wearing and after every 1-5 wears. Happy laundering!