The answer is probably... probably. To make the shift to an eco-friendlier wardrobe, supporting brands that use ethical production methods and materials is important, but what happens after that? Did you know that 25% of your clothing’s carbon footprint comes from how you treat them after you’ve bought them? Or, more specifically, how often you wash them?
If an essential part of the circular economy is consuming less and consuming better, and your washing machine accounts for 17% of your home water usage, it stands to reason that washing your clothes less often is a good circular strategy to adopt (washing less means using less energy and water). In this blog, we offer some guidelines that will help you do that (without compromising on your hygiene).
It’s our responsibility as consumers to pay attention and not just chuck items into the wash after one or two wears. Having said that, it’s also up to the fashion industry and retailers to help change the narrative by educating consumers on how to take care of clothing so that not only are we saving water and energy (helping us reach our climate goals), but we’re also increasing the lifespan of the clothing itself, thus reducing the need to buy more.
Now, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there, and there is no specific science to this (washing frequency depends on multiple factors – how often you wear the clothing, if you sweat a lot, etc.). Think of these as general recommendations.
Jeans: After 8-10 wears (or once a month if you wear them a lot)
How often you should wash your jeans depends on the type of denim they’re made of, but for the most common types, 8-10 times (or once a month) is perfect. Besides the environmental impact, washing them too often also means they’ll fade faster, which means you’ll need to buy a new pair a lot quicker than you would have if you’d been more conservative.
Tip: To keep your jeans (and the environment) in good shape, wash them in cold water and let them air-dry.
T-shirts: After 2-3 Wears (or when Dirty)
Anything worn directly next to your skin should be washed regularly, but many people wash their t-shirts after only one wear. Now, if you’re a heavy sweater, that’s totally understandable, but if you’ve only worn a t-shirt for a few hours or haven't done anything too physical, it’s ok to wait two or three more times before washing it.
Tip: To keep your t-shirts’ colors bright, wash the same colors together, and to preserve quality, wash them in cold water and let them air-dry.
Sweaters: After 6-7 wears (If You Wear Them Often)
Again, how often you wash your sweaters depends on how often you wear them. If you have a few on rotation over the cold months, once or twice a month is ideal. Do you wear a t-shirt or undershirt underneath? This will also factor into how often you wash your sweaters.
Tip: To increase the longevity of your sweaters, stick to handwashing and stay away from the tumble dryer.
Gloves, Scarves, and Hats: 2-3 Times During the Winter Season
We don't really wash our gloves, scarves, and hats regularly throughout the winter months (probably because we are constantly using them), and that’s ok. While they do accumulate a fair amount of facial oil, makeup, perfume build-up, and other dirt, washing them once a month is more than enough.
Pajamas: After 5-6 wears
Again, how often you wash these items depends on whether you wear the same set every night, and whether you tend to sweat at night. If you don’t sweat, washing after five or six wears is perfectly fine. Otherwise, you might want to wash every second, third, or fourth wear.
Sports and Swimwear: After Every Wear
There’s no getting around this. If you’re working out, you’re sweating, which means your sportswear needs to be washed after each and every session. Swimsuits are, essentially, underwear (and they also absorb sweat and whatever is in the water). Wash them after every wear.
Like we’ve said throughout this blog, how often you wash your clothes depends on how often you wear them, and what happens while you’re wearing them (sweat, spills, etc.). This is just a guideline. A reminder that you don’t need to wash your clothes as often as you probably are right now, and that you can do this without compromising on your hygiene.