The experts answer
“When I was little, my parents always made us wear the same pajamas for many nights because they weren't dirty, and I still do as an adult. I want to know if we can do it now that we're older or if I'll have to put them in the laundry after every night.” The question raised by a TikTok user sparked a heated debate on social media. And as it turns out, our views on how often clothes should be washed are largely influenced by how we were raised rather than science.
Our beliefs about the hygiene of clothes are largely “ social and cultural,” says Dr. Anthony Rossi, an assistant dermatologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. “People tend to over-wash and over-hygiene, because especially in America, we have the luxury of being able to do all these things all the time.”
But not knowing how often we should wash our clothes has consequences, whether we do it more often or less often than we should.
If we wash them infrequently, this can lead to skin problems. or infections, while washing too often damages clothes and leads to unnecessary consumption of resources.
What the experts say
Although there is no general rule for how many times an item of clothing can be worn before it goes into the washing machine, experts say that some items of clothing should be washed after each use: These include underwear, socks, tights, leggings and sports clothes. All clothes with stains, sweat, odors or visible dirt should also go in the laundry basket.
These clothes come into contact with places on the body where many natural bacteria live, as well as with sweat, which creates favorable conditions for bacteria to grow. Bacterial overgrowth can lead to infections, fungus and other skin problems.
In addition to bacteria from sweat, clothing worn at gyms or sports venues can come into contact with bacteria such as staph, which cause serious infections.
Some people let their sports clothes air dry to use again without washing them, but this practice makes things worse. And that's because heat helps bacteria grow. All it takes is washing with soap and water – ideally in warm water.
As for socks, experts explain that the heat, humidity and darkness inside our shoes is the perfect environment for breeding. of the fungus.
The clothes that can be worn again
For pajamas, shirts, jeans and other clothes, how often they should be washed depends on the use that each person makes and how much they sweat.
In general, pants and jeans can be worn again (as long as the user is wearing underwear) and the same goes for clothes that do not come in direct contact with the skin.
If a person does not sweat in their sleep, they can wear the same pajamas even for a week, but otherwise, they should be washed after each use, say the scientists.
As for jackets, as a rule, they do not need to be washed more often than once a month, as they do not come in particular contact with the skin.