Sometimes there are very clear signs when it’s time to do laundry. For example, that big red sauce stain on your white sweater is an obvious one. There are other items, however, that are harder to judge, like your bathmat or that tie you only wear three times a year. Instead of throwing everything into one, big bulks wash and calling it a day, check out this guide to how often you need to do your laundry.
How Much Laundry Are You Doing?
Just you? You and your SO? Or the whole family? Got a pet? You’ll probably want to add the dog’s leash, collar and bedding to your laundry schedule every now and then, too. This is a bit of a no-brainer, but the more people you are accountable for, the more often you will have to do laundry.
Where Do You Do Laundry?
Do you have laundry in-unit? In the building? Or are you doing laundry at the laundromat? It goes without saying that having in an in-unit washer-dryer will make it much easier to do laundry more frequently. Likewise for in-building laundry. In some buildings, each resident is assigned a set time during which they can do their laundry to prevent traffic jams and back-ups. If this is the case for you, the frequency and schedule of your laundry duties are taken out of your hands. Lastly, if you do laundry at the laundromat, it’s unlikely that you will be able to do it more than once a week, which will require you to ration out your clothes carefully or have a large wardrobe.
How Big is Your Apartment?
Do you have room in your apartment for a large hamper? If you live in a tiny studio, chances are you won’t want to devote too much floor space to a huge laundry basket. To avoid overflowing baskets, you’ll likely be doing your laundry more frequently. Do you have space in your apartment for a drying rack? If you’ve got the space in your apartment to let your clothes air dry, this can be a great incentive to do more hand washing or simply more laundry in general.
How Often You Need to Wash Your Clothes
Cotton T-shirts: This is simple: Wash after every use. Cotton absorbs smells and wrinkles easily. Luckily cotton is very easy to wash and you should do so after every wear.
Socks, underwear and undershirts: So simple. Every time.
Workout Clothes: No matter the season or the item – socks, shorts, sports bra – wash after every use. If you are an exercise nut and work out every day, make sure you’ve got enough apparel to carry you through the week. Old Navy, Target and the Paragon Warehouse sales are great places to load up on affordable workout apparel.
Tights: These babies are called tights for a reason. They cling close to the body in all sorts of intimate areas. Be good to yourself and wash after every use. Hand washing is recommended.
Blouses and button-ups: If you wear an undershirt, then button-ups can last three wears before washing. If not, wash after every wear or ever other wear. Especially if you sweat a lot. If your blouses and button-ups require line drying or ironing and you don’t have the time for that, consider sending them to the dry cleaners.
Your suit, skirt suit, pant suit, dresses: Your work clothes – including wool, silk or tweed suits, dresses and skirt suits – should go to the dry cleaners every four to five wears.
Non-stretch denim/jeans: There’s a lot of back and forth on how often you should wash your jeans. Some swear by never washing them. Others say you’ve got to do it every four wears to kill the germs and microbes that glom onto them. And then there are others who swear by freezing them. There’s no scientific proof on what is right. There is, however, one incontrovertible fact – smell. If your jeans smell dank or sweaty – wash them! Washing them doesn’t do enough to actually kill all those microbes and germs, but it will certainly take off the smell.
Stretch denim: Got to keep them tight! Wash whenever stretch is gone.
Khakis, corduroys and other casual pants: Dad’s pants have to be cleaned too! These bad boys can last about four wears before they need to be laundered.
Sweaters: Wool is a hardy, durable fabric that repels dirt and can withstand up to five wears before washing. Other sweater material like silk and cashmere is more delicate and loses its shape more easily, requiring washing every two to three wears. It’s a best practice to wash delicate sweater material by hand. Just fill up the sink with warm water and Woolite and let sit. After 30 minutes, wring out and lay out on a towel on flat surface fabric. If that’s too much effort, send the stuff to the dry cleaners.
Fleeces and sweatshirts: Intermediate layers like fleece and sweatshirts are made of sturdy fabrics that can sustain multiple uses and see less direct contact with skin and the elements than other layers. As such, they don’t need to be washed as often. You can go about six wears before throwing them in the laundry. When you wash fleece, turn it inside out to avoid pilling. Also air dry.
Hats, gloves and scarves: Think how close your scarf is to your face and your nose, which is probably running! You definitely want to keep that material clean. Suggest you wash at least two to three times per season. The same goes for gloves. You touch the subway pole with your gloves, don’t you? Yep. You’re going to want to wash them regularly.
Winter coat/parka: Dry clean or wash at the end of the season. Over washing can shorten the shelf life of these items so unless you had a run-in with a bottle of ketchup, limit your washing to just once a season.
Leather and suede jackets and pants: Once a season.
Bedding: Wash your sheets and pillowcases every week. Just do it. Clean sheets are the best. Comforters and blankets can be washed once a season.
If all fails…know your laundry hacks. Baby powder is a great way to soak up excessive oil on dirty clothes, and Febreze (and perfume) can work wonders on that shirt you really should have washed but just had to wear one more time…