We all know we need to change our underwear at least once a day. Or at least, some of us do.
A recent study found that 22% of men and 19% of women wear their underwear twice before washing, as well as a small number who go even longer still.
The survey of over 2,700 people also uncovered that 47% of men and 66% of women keeping their unmentionables for two to three years, while a further 13% of men and 4% of women keeping hold of their old underwear for more than three years.
A very informal chat around Metro.co.uk’s currently virtual lifestyle desk revealed that our habits around underwear replacement varied wildly. With that, we decided to take a look at whether there were any dangers of hanging on to those lucky pants long since their best.
If you’ve got a pair of boxers or knickers that you bought 20 years ago, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.
The idea that there’s a ‘sell-by date’ on clothing (even undergarments) is a myth.
As long as you’re changing your underwear, washing it thoroughly (ideally with laundry disinfectant), and keeping your washing machine clean so they’re ridding your undies of bacteria, you’re fine.
Okay, a holey pair of granny pants isn’t the sexiest, but comfies to wear during your period or when you’re living in loungewear (aka always right now) are a necessity.
However, Deyan Dimitrov, CEO of Laundryheap, has some top tips on when to replace items – not just for cleanliness, but also to get the best out of them.
He told Metro.co.uk: ‘Generally speaking, and this applies to any garment, how often you replace your underwear will depend on how many pieces you have in your rotation, how well made they are.
‘How well you care for them is also key. Don’t throw items away simply because you’ve read that they need replacing every year. You’ll save yourself a lot more money in the long run.’
How often to replace bras
Deyan says: ‘There is general guidance that suggests bras should be replaced every year. However if they’re well made and you’ve cared for them, they could last longer. Instead of having a designated time frame for when you should replace your bra, take note of these tell-tale signs that show you need a new one.’
He recommends replacing your bra when:
- The padding becomes wrinkled or textured
- The elastic begins to loosen
- The underwire loses its shape
- The cups are no longer supportive, sturdy or strong
- The bra is no longer comfortable to wear due to frequent wear
- There are holes in your bra (unlike outer garments, if you choose to sew up holes in your bra, they can further stretch the elastic, meaning even more holes can appear)
- Your bra is discoloured, and doesn’t freshen up completely after careful washing (particularly under the arms and around the bottom of the cups)
How often to replace knickers and underpants
‘Again, there’s lots of information flying around suggesting that you should replace your pants and knickers every 12 months – but this isn’t true!’ says Deyan.
‘So long as you are washing and disinfecting your underwear regularly and they are not soiled, then they are fine.’
Watch out for the following tell-tale signs of when your boxers or knickers are past their best:
- The underwear has become frayed, with irreparable damage
- There are holes (stitching up holes will cause your underwear to become uncomfortable, we’d only recommend this in desperate times!)
- The elastic has loosened
- They no longer fit or are uncomfortable to wear
- Any lace is starting to unravel
How to make your clothes last longer
At Laundryheap, they recommend washing your undies at 30 degrees, with fabric-safe disinfectant to keep them super clean.
Bras should be washed by hand, or put in a special bag in the machine to keep the underwires from coming out and the cups from losing their shape.
Deyan adds: ‘Always opt for liquid washing detergent or washing tabs as opposed to washing powder when washing underwear. Washing powder can leave residue and can dry your items out, causing them to be brittle and thus damaging the fabric.
‘Also, be sure to separate your underwear by colour and fabric type before washing, to keep the colours looking fresh and to keep your whites white.’