When to actually wash clothes: A newbie’s guide to doing laundry

”Wear once and wash right after” isn’t always necessary

Ask someone how often you really need to wash clothes, and chances are, they’d simply tell you “when it’s dirty” or “after wearing it.” The first answer doesn’t really offer much insight, while the second is a common misconception.

Generally, clothes that are stained, white or made of silk need to be washed after every wear to ensure they stay in tip-top condition. Since we’re still in the middle of the pandemic, we also have to wash clothes that we wore when going outdoors after every use as a sanitary practice and health precaution. But other than these, some of the clothes that we only wear indoors don’t need to be tossed in the laundry basket right away. 

Aside from helping us save time and effort, washing clothes only when necessary also does good for the environment. It reduces water and electricity use, plus it helps us cut down on expenses for laundry items like detergents and fabric softeners.

So, how often should you really wash your clothes if you only stayed at home? We broke it down for you.


Wash: After every use

The reason is very obvious: These clothes touch the most intimate parts of your body. Re-wearing unwashed underwear exposes your skin to different types of bacteria and could lead to bad odor, infections and skin problems like acne in those areas. Remember that our groin areas are vulnerable to bacterial growth because of their warm and moist environment. 

A slight exception to this rule would be bras, which can still be worn thrice before it needs to be washed. However, this is only advised under cool weather conditions and if the bra isn’t drenched in sweat.

In addition to the non-negotiable wash after every use, it’s actually recommended to get new underwear every year as a sanitary practice. Shop new underwear, like bras from Forever 21, on the SM Malls Online app for discounts of up to 30% now.

Workout clothes

Wash: After every use

Here’s the rule of the thumb: All clothes that you sweat in must be washed after every use. Bacteria mixes with the sweat produced by the body, and while not all bacteria are bad, some may put you at risk of yeast infections or acne breakouts. Odor is a good indicator of when you need to wash your clothes, so if your leggings and tank tops are already smelly, it’s definitely time to toss them in the laundry bag.

The same goes for bathing suits and socks, which both collect moisture that bacteria can feed on as well. You can, however, still choose to re-wear gym clothes that remain dry after working out or have water-resistant fabric. So if you only wore leggings for leisure purposes, you can still wear them once to thrice before washing.

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Wash: After three to four uses

It takes a while before you *actually* need to wash your pajamas because you don’t really move around or sweat actively when wearing them. And if you regularly shower before wearing your night attire, you can stretch it to a few more wears before washing.

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Office wear

Wash: After an average of three to four uses

Here’s the thing: Suits and blazers need to be dry cleaned. That can be a bit more expensive than regular handwashing at home, so it’s better to maximize them before handing them to the laundry. You can still use suits made of wool three to four times without washing, while suits made of synthetic fabric are still good for four to five wears.

For your button-down shirts, you can (thankfully) wash it at home after three to four times. Meanwhile, dress pants and slacks can be re-worn twice or thrice.


Wash: After five to seven uses

As someone who personally handwashes her clothes, I must say: Jackets, cardigans, hoodies, sweaters and coats (especially those with really thick fabrics) are burdensome to wash because of how heavy they are. Thankfully, it’s perfectly fine to wear them five to seven times before including them in the laundry pile. 

This is usually for those who wear jackets and sweaters with undershirts, though. If you’re used to going commando under your outerwear, you might only be able to re-wear them once or twice before a wash is needed.

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Wash: After one to two uses

Compared to outerwear, T-shirts need to be washed more often because they’re more directly in contact with your skin. But during summer, you might want to wash it right after wearing it if you sweat a lot.


Wash: After four to five uses

One thing we love about jeans is that they are very low-maintenance. You can wear them multiple times without anyone noticing, and it’s still perfectly sanitary to do so. Most laundry tips note that jeans can forgo washing up to four to five re-wears, but you can even stretch it for six to seven or an entire season before tossing it in the laundry.

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