There are certainly various opinions on the question of how often you should wash different items of clothing – at least as many as on the question of how often bed linen actually belongs in the washing machine. In order to shed some light on the subject of “washing clothes”, we asked some people who need to know it: for example, the owner of a New York underwear boutique and a housekeeper and textile specialist with more than twenty years of work experience. Here are their answers to the laundry question – so that you can focus your thoughts on more important things in the future.
Let’s start with a piece of clothing that men and women wear: jeans. The boss of the world famous Levi’s jeans brand, Chip Bergh, once said that he never washes his jeans. Even if you avoid washing bespoke or designer jeans, be careful, says Wayne Edelman, boss of Meurice – a high-priced chemical cleaning company in New York. Unwashed jeans could quickly become “a little gross”.
Once you sweat in your jeans and they start to smell, it’s legitimate to put them in the washing machine. To avoid loss of color, Edelman recommends washing the jeans inside out and cold, and then hanging them up to dry.
But one advantage is that the trends in denim fabrics change – and you can look cool if you put your jeans in the washing machine more often. “The opposite applies to washed-out jeans with holes: The more you wash them, the more worn they are and the better they look,” explains cleaning boss Edelman.
A women’s theme follows: the bra. Wearing your bra several times before you put it in the washing machine is not as unsanitary as you might think. Indeed, frequent washing harms the fabric and structure of bras.
As the lingerie expert Laura Henny, owner of the underwear boutique “The Rack Shack” in Brooklyn, New York, explains, all bras are handmade. Therefore, you should always wash your bras and bralettes by hand. If you really want to put them in the washing machine, it’s best to use a laundry bag.
Even if a hand wash sounds like a lot of work, according to Henny, you should “actually do as little effort as possible”. Means: Simply fill your sink with cold water and a gentle detergent (i.e. without alcohol or bleach) and swivel the bras around a little in the soapy water. Let it soak while you watch an episode of your favorite series on Netflix, then rinse it and hang it up to dry. At least that’s how Laura Henny would do it.
Opinions differ on the subject of bra lingerie
The laundry expert Mary Marlowe Leverette is a bit stricter. “Usually says that a bra should be washed after each wear because it comes into direct contact with the body,” said the housekeeper, textile expert and author from the USA to the magician “PureWow”. “Body oils, sweat and bacteria are transferred to the fabric and if they remain in the fibers, they begin to decompose the fabric, especially the elastic fibers.”
If you wear your bras all the time, they will also wear out faster. Laura Henny therefore recommends alternating between wearing three or four bras and washing them after two weeks – earlier if necessary. “Some people sweat more and others are much more in tune with their bodies,” says Henny. If your bras feel uncomfortable in time, they will definitely wash more often. However, you should not wash them after each wear, because this is rather bad for the bra.
Cleaning sweaters at home is easy
Sweaters can take on a musty smell after wearing them a few times. However, many people shy away from washing good sweaters at home or in the laundromat and opt for dry cleaning instead.
According to Wayne Edelman, with the right washing machine, you can even wash cashmere sweaters at home in one hand wash. If you want to be sure, you can clean sweaters and bras, but of course also in the sink. Gwen Whiting and Lindsay Boyd, co-founders of The Laundress detergent shop, recommend using a pH neutral detergent and cold water to protect delicate fabrics.
The real secret, however, is the correct drying of your sweaters. According to Edelman, you can put the garment in the dryer for a few minutes and then put it on a towel to dry that you previously laid out on a flat surface. This can be an ironing board.
The risk of getting a wet sweater to dry is to accidentally widen it. Wool, like most other knitwear, is stretchy when wet and can be accidentally widened when hanging or messy. To avoid this, Edelman recommends taking the dimensions of your sweater (sleeve length and collar to hem) before washing and then interpreting it according to this information.
This article has been translated and edited by Nora Bednarzik from English, the original can be found here.