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Clothing Care Tips

Style SOS: How often should I be washing my clothes?

Style SOS: How often should I be washing my clothes?

"Now that I've been working from home for the past few weeks, I've noticed there's a few core pieces I re-wear a lot. How often should I be washing these?" - Tim via email

By now you’re probably adjusted to working-from-home life, and it sounds like you’ve got a few core pieces of clothes you wear on repeat as you move your laptop between desk, dining table, and sofa. (Us too, and they sure aren’t jeans.) Defaulting to the same pieces leaves you with less things to worry about during these crazy times – plus, it can feel futile to pick a new outfit every day knowing it will only be resigned to the washing basket without having made it outside. The trick is knowing how often to wash the ones you're wearing on repeat, because even if you’re not seeing a whole lot of people right now, that doesn't give you a license to wear dirty clothes. Don’t worry Tim, we’ve got you and your comfy clothes covered. 

T-shirts

How often do they need washing? 

Realistically, t-shirts, like socks,underwear, and other items that are worn directly against your skin, should be washed after each wear. But when you’re not getting out and about as much as usual, you can probably stretch an extra wear out of them if you feel they’re not too musty. Washing your clothes too often can wear them out, so you want to avoid washing the same tees over and over again, and since you’re not going to be seeing anyone out in your two-day-old top, you can skip the daily wash (unless you did a cardio class in it, then by all means, toss it in your laundry basket). 

How to wash them

As a general rule, wash your cotton and jersey items at 30 to 40 degrees, either in the machine or by hand. Any hotter and your clothing may shrink and become discoloured.

Jumpers

How often do they need washing? 

You can usually get about five wears out of your sweater if you wear a t-shirt underneath, but if you wear it against the skin, it should be washed after one or two wears. Check the cuffs, elbows, and necklines after each wear to make sure they’re clean, and wipe down any dirt or stains as and when they happen to avoid the need to over-wash your clothes.

How to wash them

A 30 to 40 degree wash cycle is usually fine for jersey sweaters, but always follow the care instructions – especially for knitwear which may require gentle cycles, hand-washing, or dry cleaning.

Casual trousers

How often do they need washing? 

You can probably get up to three wears out of a pair of casual trousers, like chinos or work pants, as long as you’ve not spilt anything on them that requires a wash. Hang them up once you’re done for the day to help the fabric freshen up as the fibres relax and un-wrinkle. Changing out of your work clothes at the end of the day, like you might when you get home from the office, will help your clothes to last longer between washes, in turn keeping them in better condition.

How to wash them

Machine-wash cotton trousers on a cold or warm cycle. If you want them back in rotation quickly, tumble-dry for 15 minutes, then remove to avoid shrinking and leave to air dry.

Jeans

How often do they need washing?

If you’re one of the rare few that works from home in jeans, you’ll be relieved to hear that they’re probably the item in your wardrobe that needs washing the least. Levi Strauss himself claims that you shouldn’t wash denim at all, and that just freezing it does the job. Other experts suggest that tending to stains as and when they happen and rinsing your jeans every few months will do the job, whilst more generic rules state ‘a minimum of five wears’ before washing denim.

How to wash them

Quite often you’ll want to wash your denim because it’s losing its shape, even if it’s not appearing too dirty. You’ll want your jeans to return to their original form, so follow washing and drying instructions carefully to avoid stretching or shrinking. For selvedge denim, soak with detergent for 45 minutes. For regular denim, machine-washing on a cold cycle and hanging to dry should do the trick.


Words: Ella White
Illustration: Ryan Gillett