When we wrote about repeating outfits last week, quite a few of you commented about issues of wearing the same thing for two days in a row, or how outfit choices can sometimes be restricted by what happens to be clean at the time, and this got us thinking about how often people wash their clothes.
We, for instance, know some people who wash ALL their clothes, EVERY time they wear them. Every single thing. Skirts, tops, even sweaters which are worn on top of other sweaters: they all go straight into the laundry basket as soon as they’re taken off.
Now, this strikes us as crazy. For one, who has the time for THAT amount of laundry? And for two, well, as far as we’re concerned, most clothes don’t actually NEED to be washed every single time they’re worn. Constant washing is bad for clothes, and it’s bad for the environment, and while we’re not advocating for a second that people walk around unwashed (personal hygiene: it’s a good thing!), we tend to split clothes into two distinct groups when it comes to laundry, and we don’t mean “whites” and “colours”. (Although that too, obviously. Or you’ll end up with a machine full of baby pink clothing, like the Chief of Police did on that day last month when a bright red gardening glove found itself going through a spin cycle with a load of whites.)
1. Clothes that have direct contact with skin – i.e.underwear, hosiery, tops with arms which come into close contact with the underarm area, etc. These get washed after every wear, no exceptions. Also, workout clothes: there’s no way they’re being worn again once they’ve been sweated on.
2. Clothes that don’t. Things like skirts, jeans, jackets, and anything else that’s usually worn over another item of clothing, and which therefore doesn’t come into contact with the skin. For example, a skirt worn in winter, over tights and with a shirt tucked into it will only really need to be washed after one wear if you’ve dropped something on it, or been sitting in a smoke-filled room for hours. Items in this category get washed on an “as needed” basis.
Obviously, the second category is a lot harder to define than the first, and really depends on what you’re doing in the clothes in question. If something gets stained, or dirty, then obviously it’s getting washed, regardless of how long its been worn for. If you live in, or are visiting, a hot climate, you’ll probably need to wash things more often. And if you spend a lot of time outdoors, or work with animals or on the land, or something, then your clothes will get a lot dirtier a lot faster than someone who drives to work in a climate-controlled office every day and doesn’t get any closer to dirt than looking at it through the window will.
So, those are our rough guildelines for clothes washing (and we must stress, they are very rough!), but we want to know about yours. Tell us: how often do you wash your clothes?