- You should wash your bra after 2 or 3 wears, or once every 1 or 2 weeks if you’re not wearing it every day.
- Wash your jeans as rarely as possible, unless you’re going for the distressed look.
- Wash sweaters as often as needed, but be careful not to stretch or shrink them as they dry.
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Wearing your bra a few times before washing it is not as gross as you might think. In fact, washing your bra too often is harmful to the fabric and structure.
The same goes for denim and other fabrics that are too delicate for the washing machine. Washing after every wear is a great rule of thumb for everyday t-shirts and workout clothes, but it doesn’t apply to your whole wardrobe.
It can be tricky to decide how often to wash certain clothes, and opinions may differ depending who you ask. Insider spoke with lingerie and laundry experts about how often to wash your bra, jeans, sweaters, and more.
Hand-wash your bras after a few non-consecutive wears
Lingerie expert Laura Henny, who owns The Rack Shack in Brooklyn, explained that all bras are handmade. That’s why you should always hand-wash your bras and bralettes (and use a lingerie bag if you absolutely need to machine-wash).
While hand-washing may sound like a lot of work, Henny said you should "actually put as little work as possible into it."
Just fill your sink with cold water and a gentle detergent (that means no alcohol or bleach), swish your bras around the soapy water, let them soak while you watch an episode of Netflix, then rinse and hang dry, she said.
As for when to wash them, there are different schools of thought.
"The 'rule' is that a bra should be washed after every wear, since it's directly in contact with the body," laundry expert Mary Marlowe Leverette told PureWow. "Body oils, perspiration, and bacteria are transferred to the fabric and if left in the fibers will begin to break down the fabric-especially elastic fibers."
But overwearing your bras can also stretch them out, so Henny recommends rotating through three or four bras and washing them after two weeks, or sooner if necessary.
"Some people sweat more and some people are way more physical," Henny said. "If your bras feel gross earlier, totally wash them more. But you don't have to wash them after every wear because that's actually bad for the bra."
Wash your jeans as rarely as possible to preserve their look
Levi's CEO Chip Bergh once said he never washes his jeans.
While you should avoid washing designer or custom made jeans, Wayne Edelman, CEO of garment care company Meurice, said unwashed jeans can get "a little gross."
If you sweat in your jeans and they start to stink, it's OK to put them in the washing machine. Edelman recommended cold-washing your jeans inside out and hanging them to dry to avoid discoloration.
But as denim trends change, so do washing best practices.
"For washed jeans with holes in them, the more you wash them, the more worn out they get and better they look," Edelman said.
Cleaning sweaters at home is easier than you might think
Sweaters can take on a musty smell after just a couple wears. But many people hesitate to wash nicer sweaters at home or in a launderette, opting to dry-clean instead.
Edelman said you can wash cashmere at home with the right washing machine, on a hand-wash cycle.
You can also wash your sweater in the sink just like a bra. Gwen Whiting and Lindsay Boyd, co-founders of The Laundress, recommended using a pH-neutral detergent and cold water to protect delicate fabrics.
The real trick is properly drying your sweaters. Edelman said you can toss them in the dryer for a couple of minutes, then lay them out on a towel on a flat surface (like an ironing board) to dry.
The risk in laying a wet sweater out to dry is that you might accidentally stretch it out. Wool and most other knits are more malleable when wet, so you risk stretching them if you hang-dry or lay them out imprecisely.
To avoid this, Edelman recommended taking the dimensions of your sweater (sleeve length and collar to hem) before washing and laying it out according to those measurements.