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Do I need to wash this?

The sniff test may tell you if you wore enough deodorant, but does not always work when deciding if you need to wash your clothes. What you do, the fabric type, the wear and the weather can play a deciding factor. The American Cleaning Institute offers these tips to help determine if it’s time to wash those bed sheets, jeans, shirts, socks and underwear.

  • Bed sheets should be washed at least every two weeks, more often if you sweat a lot at night (Check out this video on why).
  • Pajamas should be washed after 3 or 4 wears (if you shower before bed, you may get a few more wears before washing).
  • Bath towels should be hung to dry between uses and washed after 3 to 5 normal uses*. Towels need to be allowed to dry before they are used again. So, remember to hang up your towel after each use.
  • Underwear and socks should be washed after each wearing.
  • Bras can be worn 2-3 times before washing. Be sure to give your bra a rest day in between wearing to give the elastic a chance to regain its shape.
  • T-shirts, tank tops and camisoles should be washed after each wearing.
  • Outer clothes like dress shirts and khakis can be worn a few times before washing unless it is hot out and you are sweating or they are visibly dirty or stained.
  • Jeans can typically be worn 3 times before washing.
  • Leggings and tights should be washed after every wear to get rid of the baggy knees.
  • Typically suits can be worn several times during normal use before dry cleaning (3-4 times for wool and 4-5 times for synthetics). Depending on your lifestyle or environment you may need to dry clean more often. Smoky bars, smog or smelly environments or if your suit gets stained may mean that you need to clean them more often. 
  • Bathing suits should be washed after every wear.
  • Exceptions to the rules: whites and silks are prone to discoloration and should be cleaned after every wear.
  • If your clothes get stained, wash, spot clean or dry clean as soon as possible – this will extend the garment’s life which will be greener in the long run since you won’t need to replace the item.
*Did you cut yourself shaving? Ouch! Did you use the towel to wipe sweat from the exercise bench? Eww! If the towel contains body fluids (perspiration, blood, etc.) it should be washed after each use.

Read more about clean laundry...

Laundry Room Safety
Stain Removal Chart
Laundry Publications
Proper Dosage (video)

Read more cleaning tips for college students...


These recommendations come from a college student:

  • If you have to ask if you should wash it, then the answer is most likely YES!
  • If you drool, vomit, or spill beer on it, wash it (and please don’t sit next to me).
  • Socks and underwear, no you can’t wear them twice, wash them.
  • If you do sports and your clothes are wet, don’t let them pile up in the corner (P-U….).
  • If your jeans can stand in the corner by themselves, time to wash them.
  • If you don’t know where the washing machine is – find it!