Is There Really a Standard for How Often to Wash Your Clothes?

Humanity may truly have too much leisure time on its hands. This statement is not made lightly. It is made in response to an article published by The Sun (UK) in early December 2021. The article dares to answer the gut-wrenching question of how frequently we should be washing our clothes.

Compared to all the other things going on the world, the frequency with which the laundry gets done doesn’t seem to be so earth shattering. But beyond that, how does anyone come up with a standard while keeping a straight face? People apparently try, as evidenced by The Sun piece.

It’s a Health Issue

The position taken by the article’s author was one of laundry frequency being a health issue. Granted, wearing filthy clothes all the time probably has a detrimental effect on one’s health. But are there really serious health ramifications that come with wearing the same pants four days in a row, rather than laundering them after just one use?

Apparently so. A dermatologist interviewed for the article said that not washing your clothes frequently enough increases the risks of experiencing “unpleasant skin conditions, such as acne or an itchy rash.” That makes sense, but only to a certain degree.

The thinking is that oil from the skin is transferred to our clothes throughout the day. When we put the same clothes on the next day, the oil is transferred back. This apparently blocks pores and causes other problems. The result could be an unsightly skin condition.

Laundering Frequency Varies

It is hard to take any of this seriously based strictly on the premise alone. But when you start looking into the general recommendations for laundering frequency, skepticism grows. For example, socks and underwear should be laundered more frequently because they make direct contact with the skin. But bras are apparently an exception. According to the article, they are to be washed “only after you’ve worn them for up to four times.”

What is the difference between a pair of boxer shorts and a bra, other than function? Furthermore, the article doesn’t define more ‘frequently’ as it relates to socks and underwear. And finally, if a bra should be washed only after you’ve worn it up to four times, does wearing it once qualify?

Expert Advice Not Needed

What makes all of this more humorous than nanny-like is the simple fact that expert advice really isn’t needed when it comes to doing the laundry. We all pretty much know how frequently we should wash our clothes. The thing is this: there is no standard. It is a matter of personal preference.

You might buy a brand-new LatinX T-shirt from Plural, a New York City-based brand aimed at the LatinX and Spanish communities. You may launder that shirt after every use just because it’s new. But two years from now, you might be lucky to wash it after the third or fourth use. So what?

There is something about running your clothes through the washing machine because you’ve done something that made you hot and sweaty. There is something to be said about laundering the clothing you wore while painting the house, sealing the driveway, or mucking out the horse stall. But trying to come up with hard and fast rules for every article of clothing seems a bit like overkill.

There really is no right or wrong in how frequently you do the laundry. It is entirely up to you. If not doing the laundry frequently enough leaves you stinky and looking like you just rolled out of bed, others will let you know.

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