I recently came across an article by the BBC during my nightly news reading routine called “Is Stella McCartney right – should we stop washing our clothes?” that sparked a thought – how often should we be washing our clothes?
Ethical and environmental advocate fashion designer Stella McCartney (absolutely amazing woman) has been known to have said that you should avoid washing your clothes too often for a couple of reasons; whilst working as a tailor on Saville Row she was told that it would prolong a garment’s life span and environmentally, it will reduce the amount of microfibres being released polluting the water. Did you know that the CEO of Levi’s Chip Bergh has had his pair of jeans for ten years and never washed them! How insane is that?!
So straight off the bat, we’ve got two good reasons for reducing the amount you wash your clothes. Now that’s not to say you need to run around with food stains and your pits smelling to high heavens as there are ways around that and that’s what we’ll be discussing today. I’ll have a look at staple wardrobe pieces and give you an idea of how many times you can wear them or what you can do to avoid washing them at all (if you can be so bold you little devil) – because let’s face it, not all of us love doing laundry.
According to Chip Bergh, the best way to look after your jeans is to freeze them to kill off the germs and spot clean any parts you might have dropped some food on. However, I must say that I much prefer to give them a spin in the machine and will normally wear them as many as five times before chucking them in the wash. This is depending on the style and how much elastane is in them – if they’ve got extra stretch I find them to lose their shape quickly and will wash them after two or three wears.
I always use the lowest temperature for my dark washes (20C) and a cold wash is recommended by experts to ensure the dyes do not fade. Following my findings, I think I’ll stick with my current routine, but maybe spot wash if I happen to drop some bolegnaise on my beloved jeans.
T-shirts and shirts
I can normally get one or two wears out of a t-shirt or shirt before chucking it into the washing basket and will always try to maximise the amount I wear it before I do so. In the winter I can get away with two wears, in comparison to the summer when one wear is all I can do due to the amount of sweat perspiring from my pits. Unless you’re like my husband that’s a freak of nature and doesn’t sweat or have any body odour – let’s hope my future children inherit that gene!
Knitwear, jumpers, cardigans etc.
This is all dependent on the type of fabric, but I can usually get about 7 wears out of a hoodie before throwing it in the machine, whereas a fine knit jumper that’s a bit more fitted will need washing after two or three wears. Rule of thumb is six to seven wears. I wouldn’t ever recommend tumble drying any of these items as it can shrink them and end up with you having a blazing row with your husband because every single jumper they own has been shrunk – be aware people (true story).
Coats and jackets
I’ll be honest and say I’ve got some coats and jackets that I have never washed, yep you read that correctly! Not because I’m some dirty bitch, but because I simply haven’t needed to. I’ve got a vintage denim jacket from Ralph Lauren that I’ve worn countless times, a khaki parka and a faux leather jacket that have all never seen the inside of a washing machine – I’ve spruced them up a bit every now and then, should probably chuck them in but I just don’t. The official advice is to wash them once or twice a season, but do what you want – I can’t judge.
Dresses, trousers and skirts
This is quite a broad term as you’ve got so many different styles and occasions, but we’ll go with day to day, casual dresses and skirts for now. I normally wear mine two to three times before giving them a clean, but it’s all dependent on the fabric. I find natural fabrics like cotton to be longer lasting and could last three wears, but synthetics such as polyester will stink to high heaven and need washing immediately after wearing.
Bras, pants and socks
Pants and socks need to be washed after every wear, no question about that. But bras can be worn multiple times before needing to go in for a spin. Lingerie designers will recommend hand washing your intimates as it will improve the longevity, but I’m too lazy for that and haven’t ever done so (unless you count a wash using shampoo in a hotel bathroom sink when you don’t have enough pants or bikinis). I normally wear my bras about five times before washing them and will never put them in the tumble dryer – this will distort any sort of padding you have any make it look like a bumpy mess.
I’m in a routine of wearing my pyjamas twice before washing. This is based on my body and how I sweat when I sleep, but some people can last as many as three, while others can only last one – this is all based on you so don’t take advice as the rule of thumb.
Jogging bottoms and leggings
For leggings, again this all depends on the fabric and cotton content. If they’re made of 100% cotton then they will definitely sag after one wear and need to be washed to get them back to normal. A little bit of elastane will get you an extra wear or two. But if you’ve been sweating it hard in the gym and your nether regions are smelling questionable, throw them in the washing basket as you don’t want that bacteria festering.
For jogging bottoms/ or sweats (whatever you want to call them) if you’re using them to lounge around in, three wears is possible. But if you’re out for a run and sweating out the booze you’ve been binging on over the weekend, best to give them a wash.
As mentioned above, do not put these items in the tumble dryer as you’ll definitely shrink them – if you’ve done this and want to bring them back to their former glory, once they’re out of the machine and damp, you can stretch them back to their normal length (maybe ask your husband that you’ve bickered with about it to help) and hang to dry.
I’m sure there are loads more items that I could cover, but felt that the basics should do it for now. Let me know in the comments if you’ve got any tips for maintaining your clothes, if you think I’m a dirty cow or if there are any other items you’d like me to cover. Now I’m off to put a wash on.
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