Are You a Daily Washer?

by Katy on April 25, 2009 · 45 comments


My friend Jan came to the house yesterday to pick up her son, and was wearing the cutest red cable-knit sweater. I then went to her house today to pick up my son, and guess what? She was still wearing that very same cute red sweater.

“Ha!” I joked to her, “I caught you wearing the same sweater two days in a row.”

“Oh, I always do that.” She replied. “I just try not to do it if I’m seeing the same people.”

We then started to talk about how we often will wear clothing a time or two before putting them through the wash. I relayed how my 13-year-old went from having five pairs of jeans to two in a bizarrely short amount of time. (Is he perhaps crawling on broken glass while at school?) And how I’d been re-folding the jeans and freshly presenting them to him if they’d only been worn once.

We agreed that clothes last longer when laundered less, and that you also don’t need to own as much if the clothes can be repeated.

Which brings me to the question:

Are you a daily washer?

Do you wash your clothes after every wearing, or do you wait until they’re actually dirty? Does the idea of wearing an item more than once between washings give you the heebie-jeebies? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Penny in Australia April 26, 2009 at 12:09 am

actually the thought of being a ‘daily washer’ is what gives me the heebie-jeebies. I just can’t imagine it. I will usually wear my work clothes only once, but anything other than that would get a minimum two wears, but usually more. The bulkier the item, the more wears it gets. For example – jeans – at least 10 wears, t-shirts – 1 – 2 wears, jumpers – 5 wears.

And don’t get me started on towels… the thought of those people that use their towels only once… aaaargh! Would use mine for at least two weeks (they’re only used when you’re squeaky clean!).


Q April 26, 2009 at 4:19 am

Underwear and other intimate wear should be washed daily, but not necessarily for outer wear in cold weather where people don’t perspire as much.

In tropical countries like ourselves, we probably need to do our laundry more often because of perspiration.

That’s for regular folks who can afford to own clothing. In poorer countries in Southeast Asia, it’s probably not possible to do their laundry so often if the people don’t own many sets of clothes.


Divine Bird Jenny April 26, 2009 at 5:05 am

I wash when the clothes get dirty. I have to take mine to a laundromat, so I try to keep the trips to a minimum. We live in an apartment with expensive machines that are neither efficient nor customizable; you insert your money, press ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ and that’s pretty much your choice for washing. Same for their dryers–which end up needing two cycles to complete. Ugh.

I wish we had a house with a clothesline. I hand-wash a lot of socks & underwear and hang them to dry in our bathroom, but that’s not really doable for pants and shirts. (Especially since we have a tiny bathroom with a very tiny sink!)


Deonne Kahler April 26, 2009 at 5:36 am

I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who wears clothes over and over again! I wash them when they’re either visibly dirty or too stretched out to wear again. I even wear the same workout clothes all week long, and just let them air dry in between. It’s amazing how they hold up, and I work out hard – meaning, I sweat. A lot. I also do the hand wash thing once in a while.

I live in a New York apartment where it costs $5 a load to wash/dry, although I’ve always been this way so money isn’t the issue. And next year I’m moving back to a house with a washer/dryer and the potential for a clothesline, which I’m very excited about. My glamorous life, ha.


Jinger April 26, 2009 at 5:41 am

I am with Non Consumer Girl…I have work outfits and outdoor clothing which I wash after 1 wearing in my hot climate, then my at home clothes and PJs which I wear several times before washing. Lightweight jackets, sweatshirts, etc I wash maybe once a month or so. And then there is my 20 year old college student who has enough clothing, outer and under, so that she washes about once a month and does about 5 loads on her “wash” day. She dries everything on racks.


Maniacal Mommy April 26, 2009 at 6:49 am

Definitely not a daily washer, though it does vary from family member. I don’t leave the house every day, so I can easily get away with wearing the same “work ensemble” a few days in a row. The kids though, it is a rare day that someone doesn’t douse themselves with yogurt or manage to have a potty mishap.


Lisa April 26, 2009 at 7:06 am

Underwear and socks only get one wearing. Except in the case of my teenage son where he seems to have no problem wearing his boxers 3 or 4 days in a row.

If I go out the night before to a casual dinner, I will often wear those clothes to work the next day.

Otherwise, I have been know to wear the same pair of jeans to work for 3 or 4 days straight. I really don’t think people are that interested in what I am wearing. If it bothers them they need to get a life 😉

For towels we use them for at least a week before washing. While I aspire to changing the sheets weekly it really is more like once every two weeks.

Night clothes are worn several times, unless I have night sweats. Then the tops get washed but the bottoms used again.

We still manage to go through a lot of laundry here. Getting my daughter on board about re-wearing clothes has been a bit of a challenge. Plus we have a lot rags that I use to clean up in the kitchen and bathroom. I often will use them once and toss them into the wash. I’m not much of a germaphobe, but I don’t want my frugal/eco ways to spread germs on the counters.


Kim April 26, 2009 at 7:13 am

I wash work pants after about 8 wears, dress shirts after 3, pajamas after 4-5 days, and I wear the same workout clothes all week. (I work out at home.) I’m not a sweaty person, so that isn’t an issue. Works for me!


Dawn/FFL April 26, 2009 at 8:26 am

We launder every 7-10 days and we usually have a load of dark and light – we will wear some clothes for a whole week (jeans and some shirts) but most clothes are worn at for at least 3 days before being tossed.


Debbie April 26, 2009 at 8:31 am

I am slowly converting from a daily washer to a rewear if not too dirty. My 7 year old DD has also started to do this. I have to remind her though that it is a better idea not to wear the same clothes to school two days in a row.

I definitely rewear my jeans and sweaters but like other readers I draw the line at underwear and socks.

Good post by the way!!


AJ in AZ April 26, 2009 at 8:47 am

Underwear, wear once and wash. Outer clothing I wear until it gets dirty. So many things that people just need to unlearn about living. My god, do you realize that lots of people use a bath towel just once!!!! on a clean body and then toss in the hamper. No wonder they spend their days doing laundry instead of living.


Angela April 26, 2009 at 9:08 am

Ha! Maybe she slept in the sweater! I’m so suggestible that now I wish I had a red cable-knit sweater.

It definitely depends on the item. Underwear, socks, t-shirts, workout clothes- wash every time.
Jeans get a little baggy and sloppy looking after 2-3 wears.
Some items like a jumper (not a sweater, you Brits!) are worn over other things, so I might wear them 10 times or more. The same with skirts- if they don’t get dirty or stretched out, I can wear them several times.

Towels- I know a lot of people like to wash them every day or two, but we live in a very dry climate and as long as they’re hung out and dry properly, they can last up to a week. If I lived in a humid climate, I’d wash them more often.

My husband likes to do an imitation of his mom, who used to do the “smell test” and sniff the armpits of a shirt to see if it needed washing.


Kat April 26, 2009 at 9:12 am

I grew up with daily washing (clothes and towels) and because there was anywhere from 6-9 people in the house laundry was done everyday (desert climate allowed for quick line drying). I was in the habit of wearing the same two outfits over and over again because they were on top.
Now I wear jeans, skirts and dresses somewhere around 3 times, tops 1-2 depending on how sweaty I got, workout clothes and towels about a week and undergarments once. I do laundry when I run out of undergarments, about every 2 weeks and only have one load unless I do bedding as well.


Meg from FruWiki April 26, 2009 at 9:18 am

I wash things when they’re dirty. To do so more often is wasteful, bad for the clothes, and too much work for me.

I work from home in my pjs most of the time, so when I do go out it’s usually for just a few hours. Granted, here in Florida it only takes a few hours for things to get icky when it’s hot out.

However, I rewear things whenever possible. If they’re still very clean (visibly clean and passes the sniff test), I’ll put them back in the closet, sometimes inside out out of laziness more than anything, but kind of as a reminder.

If they are mildly icky, I might air them out somewhere and/or toss them in with my exercise clothes if they’re casual enough.

I hate to think about people who wash perfectly clean clothes because they left them on the floor after trying them on and they got a little wrinkled. Such a waste! Just bring them in with you when you take a hot shower. Easy as could be!

Of course, I do wonder some times if people smell things I can’t because I’m used to certain smells. Fortunately, I seem plenty able to detect my own b.o. Things might be a little different, though, if I ever lose my sense of smell like some people I know.


Sierra April 26, 2009 at 9:23 am

I really miss being able to wear the same clothes more than one day in a row. Since I have a toddler and teach preschool, my clothes are invariable visibly dirty at the end of the day – smeared with peanut butter, paint and mud (plus some baby spit up if I’m lucky).

I will cheerfully return to re-wearing my jeans and sweaters before washing once my kids outgrow their extreme messy phase.


mari April 26, 2009 at 11:52 am clothes-worn eight hours -wear once than wash
2. work out clothes-worn one hour daily, wash weekly
3. lounge clothes ( around the house) wash when dirty.
4. church clothes -worn then hung up if not dirty.
5.towel-used and changed out every three days.
6. bedsheets-weekly
7.socks and underwear- worn once than washed


Jessica April 26, 2009 at 1:44 pm

I’ll admit that I wash things only when it absolutely necessary. I wish I could say that I do it to be green or frugal but I am very lazy when it comes to laundry and hate doing it with every fiber of my being.

The best way to get away with it is to have a type of ‘uniform’. I wear jeans almost every day and I own four of the exact same pair. No one sees me in anything different… so how can they tell if it was worn the day before or not.


Cheapchick April 26, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Most weekends I wear clothing two days in a row. Underwear and socks get washed daily though. Where we live it is a dry climate and we save on laundry by reusing towels up to five days in a row with no side effects. As you are clean when drying off there really is no need to wash towels on a daily basis and we are a family of six. I have laundry down to six loads a week, which I think is not too bad. I also cut my fabric softener sheets in half and use half the recommended amount of soap. I am fortunate to have bought a home that already had front loading high efficiency appliances. There are lots of ways to save on laundry!


Deb April 26, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Since I telecommute, I have to admit, I wear the same thing repeatedly. When hubby and I met, I was a snazzy dresser as I worked in an office (though it was virtually all thrift or consignment).

Now that I’m working from home, oh how times have changed! I’ll wear a t-neck at least twice, the fleece vest over it for 3-4 days, and jeans at least 2-3 days in a row. Depends on how soiled they get, of course. If I’ve been out mucking, it gets washed.

Work out clothes get worn ONCE, and you should never wear work out clothes repeatedly without a washing in between. Invites terrible infections such as staph, and not worth it! Take it from me. We battled MRSA infections 4 times in 1 year, we learned a tough lesson!


Deonne Kahler April 26, 2009 at 4:34 pm

Deb – after reading all these comments about the workout clothes, and then yours about infection, I’ve changed my tune and will start washing them after each wearing. My repeated wearings method has been because I don’t have a lot of workout shirts, but I suppose I could break down and get a couple more. I mean, they do sell them in stores (ha). Thanks for the prompt.


KC April 26, 2009 at 5:11 pm

I am definitely not a daily washer – not for jeans, skirts and jerseys anyway. Jeans only get washed when I can see they are dirty or when they get so baggy they are uncomfortable. Jerseys can go for weeks and months before being washed. I do wash underwear, workout gear and t-shirts after every wear.


kmcdade April 26, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Hm…well, for myself, I wash everything after one wearing, because I feel like it’s too smelly otherwise. Occasionally, if the laundry didn’t get done, I’ll re-wear something (not for work). If I wore something for only a few hours, I will most likely save it and re-wear it.

I don’t wear real PJ’s, just t-shirts – but I could do a better job wearing the same shirt more than once.

Husband wears jeans more than one day.

Kids change every day. We could re-think that (if it’s not dirty, hang it up for another day).


camelama April 26, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Living in a moist climate, my towels get washed after each use, otherwise it’s just inviting fast-growing mold.


Rachael April 26, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Other than the fact that I think it was a rude/inappropriate/unnecessary comment to make to your friend about wearing the sweater two days in a row (I wear a favorite fleece sweater/sweatshirt literally every day of the year except for about once a week when I wash it), I wanted to comment about washing bras. A few years ago, I was shocked when my gynocologist found that I had a yeast infection below my chest where my bra’s bottom band sat. (I am extremely anal when it comes to showering/hygiene.) Apparently if you are sweating and reuse a bra this can happen. Although I have always changed undergarments daily, back then I think I wore a bra for two days before washing. Needless to say, I now change my bras every day. Normally, though, I try not to wash clothes too often. I, too, do the sniff test as someone mentioned and that really works. Back to the red sweater, I commend people who have minimalist wardrobes and consequently often wear the same clothes. There are far more important things to spend money on. Also, there are far more crucial things to worry about than whether you change your outfit every day.


Kristin April 26, 2009 at 7:14 pm

The reason I started washing most clothes after one wearing was I read that pollen and other outdoor allergens can cling to our clothes when we’re outside, then when we come inside these allergens come with us and can aggravate allergy symptoms. Also I read that dust mites accumulate in linens, clothes, etc if not washed frequently. There was a time when I thought I had allergies so I was trying to reduce the amount of possible allergens in my home as much as possible. However now I don’t seem to suffer as much from symptoms, so I guess it’s time to experiment with washing clothes less frequently to see if I notice a difference.


BarbM April 26, 2009 at 7:19 pm

Are you kidding? I only wash something when it is dirty enough to merit washing.I tend to be messy, so tops get worn once. Jeans can be worn until the look dirty or feel dirty.Hot weather is hard on clothes because of all the sweat.


thenonconsumeradvocate April 26, 2009 at 7:57 pm


Luckily, both my friend and I have a good sense of humor and can handle a bit of “ribbing.”

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Clean Simple April 26, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Back in grad school, I had a uniform that consisted of jeans, a black turtleneck and a sweater (fall/winter) or jeans and a t-shirt (whenever the sun was shining). I washed the jeans about every, um, well, two-three weeks. Yeah. Worked for me!

Nowadays, I’ll wear a t-shirt two or three times or until it’s covered with cat hair. Jeans, a week. Jeans just get better the more they’re worn.


BohoBelle April 26, 2009 at 11:10 pm

I was until I went to uni. No it wasn’t because I was lazy. It was because this girl who was ultra cool and super fashionable shared with me that she hardly washed her clothes. And she said it so matter of fact. I must have looked shocked because she followed it up by saying that she showers twice a day (all Australians do) so it wasn’t like she was dirty. She wore deodorant, so they weren’t smelly. She did it to save the fabric of her $400+ jeans and $100 cotton singlets. So she’d wear something and then hang it up to air for a couple of days before wearing again. This was revolutionary for me.

Now I normally find that I wear work tops about 3 times before washing. Probably only once for white shirts (cuffs get dirty). Whereas my stunning wool pants – well they last for weeks and so do jeans. The trick is to rehang and air between wearings.


joshuaheller April 27, 2009 at 12:35 am

Clothes washing and bathing go together. As the days pass without a shower and the clothes become more form fitting and uncreased something good happens. You sink a bit down into it. Relax. Smell a bit and that can either be interesting or not. A way back to primitive vibes where we were much closer to the dirt.


Helloheather April 27, 2009 at 5:27 am

I try to wear things a couple of times before washing. I am the mother of a three-year-old, though, so my clothes have gotten a lot dirtier, a lot more frequently, these last three years. At the same time, though, my need to look presentable in front of a group of business people has fallen to nearly zip. So it sort of evens out.

My sister and I were raised to always wear jeans and skirts more than once, and to evaluate shirts and see if they, too, could be worn again. When my mom remarried, and I got three stepbrothers, they were HORRIFIED by this practice, and it became a giant ISSUE. (I am rolling my eyes here.) They insisted we were dirty and that my mother was REFUSING to wash their clothes.


Kristin @ klingtocash April 27, 2009 at 7:15 am

I generally wear jeans a few times before washing. Shirts are usually wear once, unless it’s a sweatshirt or sweater that I’m wearing over something else. It helps cut down on the number of pairs of pants I need and cuts down on laundry. It’s like a double coupon!


Julia April 27, 2009 at 7:21 am

Re: Camelama’s comment about mold: I see from your blog that you are in Seattle, like me. I wash my towels every day too, and was beginning to feel like an idiot based on others’ comments. Seriously, I have tried to leave them to dry, and they get smelly and it freaks me out. Even hanging on a towel rod in front of an open window does not work for me. They still feel wet hours later, most of the year here. My husband’s nose is not sensitive and he doesn’t care about it otherwise, so I wash his towel every other day. When I have long hair (because I’m too cheap and lazy to go get it cut for 6 months at a time), I use a separate towel and try to let that dry so I can use it for several days. Also, someone mentioned allergies and pollen on the clothes—that is definitely an issue in our house. We all have bad allergies. I always wash my son’s clothes every time (well, also because he’s 7 and a dirt magnet like every kid) but on my own clothes, I will wear my Lands End zip fleece tops (2 in rotation, I’m sure everyone is sick of seeing me wear them) several times before washing. There are always several layers underneath so the fleece ones don’t get dirty unless I have some sort of batter accident in the kitchen.


blackgirlinmaine April 27, 2009 at 9:27 am

Sadly aside from jeans, I wash most things after one wear…I have a preschooler, work with kids and tend to sweat a lot. So that combination makes most clothes not usable after one time.

I used to use towels multiple times but for some reason they would get quite musty, so I only use them once. I have a fair number of towels so towel laundry only gets done 1x a week.


ToilingAnt April 27, 2009 at 2:11 pm

If it’s not stinky or visibly soiled, it definitely gets reworn at least once at my house. (But I do strategize the way your friend does so the same people don’t see me over and over in the same thing!)


Susan April 27, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Great topic, not so sure about the background though.

If I were the friend, I’d probably laugh it off at the time… but later on feel embarrassed that my clothing choices were being blogged about and sent to the inboxes of people all around the world.


Alana April 27, 2009 at 5:27 pm

I live in Portland, where it can be quite damp, and it has never been a problem for me to use a towel for two weeks without washing it. I just make sure to hang it up after using — throwing it wet into the hamper will definitely make it smelly. I wear mostly thick wool socks, and they only need washing every four wears or so. Jeans are good for about a month unless visibly dirty, and tshirts 3-5 wears, depending on what they’re made out of. I only do laundry about every 4 to 6 weeks, and I’m not smelly. I do wash underwear after one wearing, but I have a lot of underwear. I have three bras that I rotate, and I wash them all about once a month. I’ve never noticed any problem with this. I don’t see much need to wash things like sweaters that don’t even touch your skin, unless they’re visibly dirty. The idea of washing everything after wearing it just once seems like obsessing about cleanliness to me.


tammy April 27, 2009 at 5:33 pm

I wear things at least two or three times before washing UNLESS it’s garden duds. Those get tossed directly into the washing machine!
I think it’s smart to wear things several times before washing.
I like AJ’s comment about living life instead of washing clothes!


Barb April 27, 2009 at 7:01 pm

Work clothes get washed after wearing once because I work with seniors and infection control is a priority.

Towels and bed sheets are used for a week then washed.

Dish cloths and tea towels are washed daily. (After hearing on Oprah (about 10 years ago) how dirty they are!)

Everything is washed in cold with 2 tablespoons of organic detergent. Everything is hung to dry except my work clothes because I need to be wrinkle free. I live in a condo so I have to hang everything inside. It takes up a huge amount of space but I have my hydro bill down to $27.00/month! Woot!


Martha April 27, 2009 at 9:24 pm

this all reminds me of the great patagonia ski pants I got on big sale at a patagonia outlet…I think I wore those suckers for 8 years without washing them and then I finally decided that was pretty bad, even for me, so I washed them and the fabric delaminated at the crotch and the next time I went skiing (and it was a wet snow, sticking on the chairlift) my undies were instantly soaked!! They were ruined! Is there a lesson here? HA!

I wear pants for a week or so (except for lighter colored pants), undies and socks 1x, exercise clothes a few times, shirts washed sometimes after one wearing…outer clothes go for a long time (though most things 1x/season, not every 8 years!!)

I live in a dry place…


Angela April 27, 2009 at 9:47 pm

I’m sorry, but I just have to say- if you sweat in something- like exercise clothes- they need to be washed! They are now full of germs and bacteria and will definitely smell. And please, if you’re going to a gym you need to be considerate of other people.
I’m pretty loose about washing, but I would never have thought of exercising and sweating in something and then wearing it again.


thenonconsumeradvocate April 27, 2009 at 10:31 pm

As a native Oregonian, I am well aware of the “towels that never seem to dry” issue. I have hooks on the back of the bathroom door, and make sure that the towels hang without any overlap upon themselves. I’ve actually been known to throw the towels into the dryer or on the clothesline to get them completely dry. They’re clean, just not dry.

I did live in New Mexico while in nursing school and was enamored by towels that actually dried even while folded over on themselves.

I throw the towels in the wash about once a week, which seems about right for us.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate

P.S. If my friend “Jan” couldn’t handle a comments about a sweater worn two days in a row, she and I probably wouldn’t have been friends for 14 years.


WilderMiss April 29, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Wow, I’m amazed by all the people who were raised to wash their clothes every time they wore them! Seems like needless wear and tear to me.

In order to allow my towels to dry daily (and to get to and from my shower without my roommie seeing me naked!) I keep my bathrobe and towel on a hook behind my bedroom door. Keeping them out of the bathroom makes a huge difference. I actually keep the bathrobe on a hanger so that it dries even more quickly. Works for me even though I live in a damp climate.

And I bought all my towels in white so that I can easily toss them in the wash all together every time I do a load of whites (every one or two weeks).


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