Some good news for those of us who detest doing laundry: we might be able to get away with doing less. While it's important to keep our clothes in good condition so they'll last us longer, experts say constant laundering may not always be the most cost-effective way.
From jeans to jeggings to skirts and bras, we tapped Mary Kate McGrath, senior editor at Real Simple to share some wisdom on when to wash it:
Good durable denim is excellent at masking dirt, so you can wear it several times before tossing it in the hamper. In fact, McGrath says, over-washing can cause jeans to fade and fray so when you do wash them, turn them inside out, use cold water, and line dry. They'll be a bit stiff at first, but for the mileage you'll get, it's worth it.
One exception is jeggings, or jean leggings. These contain spandex, so wash after every wear to prevent the knees from getting baggy. Then, lay flat to dry.
Dress Pants & Khakis
Because you're likely to wear dress pants in a climate-controlled office, you can easily get four to five wears before needing to wash them, especially if you make a habit out of changing after work. But, McGrath says, if your dress pants are part of a suit, dig out the matching jacket as well, even if it's not dirty. Dry-clean them both at the same time.
"Suits should last you upwards of ten years," says McGrath. "It may sound counterintuitive, but it's best to actually launder the separates together, even if you've just worn the jacket or just worn the pants. You'll definitely see less fading."
Light-colored pants like khakis are more vulnerable to dirt, so like with any clothing, treat stains immediately using stain remover wipes.
"Assuming you're not doing anything strenuous with a skirt, you can actually get a few wears out of it [before washing]," says McGrath, especially A-line or bubble skirts that don't really skim the body too much.
Typically layered over a blouse or camisole, blazers don't require much upkeep, either, though your jacket could retain odors from food, smoke or perfume. Air yours out by a window, or spritz with laundry spray before placing back in your closet.
Since bras don't come into direct contact with your underarms, they can withstand a few wears, but since elastic needs about 24 hours to recover, it's best to rotate through lingerie and avoid wearing the same bra two days in a row.
Nightgowns and Pajamas
"People tend to sweat and shed skin cells at night more often than they think so a good rule of thumb is to wash pajamas twice as often as you wash your sheets," says McGrath.
Tops and Dresses
The key is to keep tops and dresses stain-free by not overusing deodorant, and giving them a close inspection before ironing so stains don't set in. One exception is if your dress is formal or semi-formal. In that case, you want to dry-clean after each outing to avoid having stains set in, in between wears.
Salt and chlorine will eat away at the fibers and stretch swimsuits pre-maturely. Hand-washing yours with cool water and a gentle detergent and letting it air-dry will keep it in good shape.
Tees, Tanks and Camisoles
These tops have direct contact with your body, so they should be treated like undergarments, as well. Wash these pieces often and in hot water.
Know any great laundry tips? Connect with me on twitter @Farnoosh, and use the hashtag #finfit.
Photos by Jens Mortensen/ Real Simple Magazine