How Often Should You Wash Your Clothes? A Guide

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Are you wondering how often should you wash your clothes? Check out this useful guide that covers everything from jeans to pyjamas, to underwear, and more.

As a young adult, I often found myself wondering “how often should I wash my clothes?”.  I didn’t really know the answer, so I erred on the side of caution a bit too much.  As such, I washed my clothes pretty much after every wear.  With the exception of trousers, that maybe got two or three wears before being chucked in the laundry pile, I operated a one wear only policy.

That was fine in my single days.  However, it wasn’t until after I became a mum, and my laundry pile was less of a pile and more of a mountain, that I realised that maybe it was ok to not wash every single item of clothing after every wear.

The wake-up call for me was when I was washing my baby daughter’s sleepsuits after every wear.  This was even if she’d needed changing in the night, and so had only worn the suit for a few hours.  I soon realised that as long as her clothes and sleepsuits looked and smelled clean then my daughter could wear the same sleepsuit several nights in a row, without needing a wash, and nothing terrible was going to happen.

Since then I have relaxed my one-wear laundry policy.  Now I rely on the look, smell, and feel of my clothes before assessing if something needs to go in the washing machine after just one or two wears.   Not washing your clothes quite so frequently helps prolong their life.  It also saves you a bit of money and helps the environment.  That’s as well as saving you time and energy. Therefore, it’s something I’m completely on board with!

how often should I wash my laundry

If you want a bit more reassurance than going by nose alone, then don’t worry.  I found this handy guide on how often you should wash your clothes from the people at Real Simple.  I’ve reproduced it here, and you can read the full article here.

If you’re visually impaired and using a text reader, I’ve put the text below to make the guide more accessible to you.

How Often Should You Wash Your Clothes?

how often should I wash my clothes

Anything white or silk: wash these clothes after every wear.

Bras: after 3 to 4 wears.

Smart trousers and skirts: after 5 to 7 wears.

Down jackets: 2 times a season.

Fleece jackets and sweatshirts: wash these clothes after 6 to 7 wears.

Hats, gloves, and scarves: 3 to 5 times a season.

Hosiery: after every wear.

Jackets and blazers: after 5 to 6 wears.

Jeans: wash these clothes after 4 to 5 wears.

Leather and suede jackets: once a season.

Leggings and yoga trousers: after 1 to 3 wears.

Pyjamas: after 3 to 4 wears.

Shapewear: after 1 to 3 wears.

Shorts and Khakis: wash these clothes after 2 to 3 wears.

Sweaters: cotton, silks, and cashmere, after 2 wears; wool and acrylic blends, after 5 wears.

Swimsuits: after every wear.

T-shirts, vest tops, and camisoles: after every wear.

Tops and dresses: after 1 to 3 years.  Formal dresses should be dry-cleaned after every wear (here’s how to dry clean at home).

Wool coats: 1 to 2 times a season.

What’s Your Approach?

What do you think?  Are you onboard with washing your jeans after every four to five wears, or leggings after up to three wears?  I have a toddler in the house – think sticky hands, snotty noses, and so forth, so I would be very lucky if I could get my jeans lasting up to needing a wash after five wears!

And how often do you wash your clothes?  I’m curious!

ps: see my guide on how to wash wool for tips on advice on how to keep your woolens looking better for longer, my guide on how to wash white striped clothing, my guide on how to make your own fabric conditioner, and my natural stain remover tips for all your laundry woes! 

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  1. I totally agree with everything there. I thought I was the only person who wasn’t obsessed with cleaning clothes! When my daughter was a teenager (always changing clothes at the drop of a hat) I used to take them out of the wash and spray them with fabric freshener. Did the trick then. :-)

  2. I wash my jeans once a week usually since most of the time, I wear them at home or in the office. If I can get away with it, I’ll do the same with t-shirts/tops as well, at least in cooler months when I don’t really sweat. Pyjamas are infrequently washed since I tend to wear them only after a late night shower and I’m not getting dressed again (unless it’s really cold, I don’t wear pyjamas in bed anyway). My gym gets washed after two wears and while they probably should get washed after every gym session, I air them out after the first session and in a gym full of sweaty people exercising, people don’t really notice anyway! ^^;

  3. Anything I wear on top that’s next to my skin, particularly next to my armpits (tshirts, shirts, tank tops etc) I will wear a 2-3 times before washing unless it’s smelly. Trousers and skirts I wash rarely unless they’re stained, just every now and again I’ll wash them to refresh them. Coats I almost never wash as I’d need to take them to the dry cleaner and I try to avoid using that. The only thing I wash after every wear is underwear – socks sometimes I can get away with wearing them one more time, particularly since I use bamboo socks so they don’t smell nearly as much as other types of sock. Basically I go off smell, feel, and look too and wash usually at 30 or 40 degrees. It works for me, I feel clean and my clothes feel fresh.

  4. This is so informative! I’m definitely guilty of over-washing, and besides possibly ruined a few too many nice tops, it’s really damaging for the environment to run the washing machine every day. Every little helps!

  5. I sponge down jeans, cords and other trousers and tops with warm water and 1-2 drops of lavender oil. Then, if necessary, a quick iron. I wear a lot of 100% cotton and linen so I tend to iron them and wear again if not soiled .

  6. I don’t have a washing machine at home, which definitely helps to hold off on the washing! The list is probably fairly close to what I seem to do without too much thought. No kids in this household, so that makes a difference, but with a partner in construction, my laundry is outnumbered at least 3 to 1 on most items! Sometimes I wish I had a washing machine, but at least this way laundry only takes a couple of hours every 2-3 weeks. But I never wash anything remotely “nice” at the laundromat – hand wash only!

  7. With 2 little kids I have to wash almost everything they and I wear after 1 wear. I wish this wasn’t the case (particularly in cold weather, jumpers fill up a laundry basket quickly!) but there is almost always food/paint/dirt etc on our clothes. Also clothes moths are so bad in London and a top tip I’ve read for decreasing their numbers is to not have any food/sweat particles on clothes in your wardrobe.

  8. Great subject! We’re a nation obsessed with washing. Like you said, it’s often unnecessary and means we create more work for ourselves, as well as the planet. I’ve recently written an article on “waterless jeans” by Levi…the brand advocate spot cleaning and freshening up on the line instead of washing to prolong garment life and safeguard our resources.

  9. Mm… I probably do mine even less than that! T-shirts, pants and socks are daily; everything else gets about a week. Oh… and I never DO get around to gloves or hats or coats…

    I’m so pleased to be at a point now where my daughter’s pyjamas don’t get breakfast all over them EVERY SINGLE DAY, so we can usually get a few wears out of them. When she was a baby, she usually wore her sleepsuits for 24 hours at a time.