How often should you wash your towels, jeans, bras and more?

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There’s a reason things like cleaning your house and doing the washing are called ‘chores’. It can feel as if your washing basket is constantly full, and that you’re doing yet another load of laundry – even though you just did one.

This is why most of us probably use the washing machine a little less than we should.

So when it comes to those items you might use more than once, such as towels, bras and (maybe) exercise gear, how often should you actually be washing them? We asked the experts.

When it comes to laundry, denim is probably the attire with the most conflicting information. Most of us have a favourite pair of jeans but we can never seem to agree on how often we should – or shouldn’t – wash them.

According to Mashable, 27 per cent of people wear their jeans about three times before washing them, 21 per cent wear them more than five times and 8 per cent wash their jeans every time they wear them. But some denim gurus say you should never wash your jeans.

According to Levi’s, you should wash your jeans once every 10 wears, or leave it even longer until they start to smell ‘funky’. This is “to maintain fit and prevent too much rebound”.

Levi’s recommends you use a damp cloth or an old toothbrush with mild soap to get rid of stains.

To keep the colour and shape, Levi’s says to wash them in cold water and hang them inside out in a shady space – and don’t even think about chucking them in the dryer.

Bad news for most bra-wearers, because we’d put good money on you not washing them as regularly as you should. “Ideally, you should wash your bra every two to three wears,” says Karen Tierney, centre manager at a well-known dry cleaner.

If you want your bra to hold its shape and last as long as possible, Ms Tierney adds: “It really is best to handwash your bra in warm (not hot) water with a delicate detergent. If you cannot stand the thought of handwashing and you want to machine wash, make sure you use a cold delicate cycle (in a net bag) and never tumble dry.”

Exercise gear
Exercise clothing is a particularly tricky one because it tends to contain elastic or Lycra, which Ms Tierney says “will last much longer if washed at a lower heat”. However, she adds: “Washing at 30 degrees C does not help to kill the bacteria which builds up in gym kit and causes it to smell”. So it’s a toss-up between potentially ruining your activewear, or not getting it properly clean.

Ms Tierney says: “Wash gym kit after every use (even on a quick cycle) with the addition of some antibacterial laundry cleanser. Dettol sell one which can be found in most supermarkets. It is also important to get your kit in the wash ASAP after getting back from the gym. If you leave it in a pile on the floor, you allow it time for the bacteria to multiply.”

If you exercise a lot and can’t be bothered to deal with your sweaty clothes, technology could provide a solution. There’s a growing trend of ‘self-cleaning’ gym kit made from materials that are said to repel your sweat, keeping the clothes clean and odour free. Brands like Ably Apparel or Silversport could be the answer to your laundry pile woes.

Few things feel more glorious than settling into a bed of freshly washed sheets, but the process of grappling with the doona and pillowcases is nothing short of a nightmare. So how often should we be washing them?

“This varies, but as a rule of thumb we would recommend washing your bed linen every seven sleeps,” says Ms Tierney, suggesting a wash at 60 degrees C if the care label allows, or 30 with some antibacterial cleanser.

If washing your sheets every week seems relentless, we, unfortunately, have some more bad news for you – you need to wash your actual doonas and pillows as well.

“Pillows should be cleaned three to four times a year and doonas twice a year,” says Ms Tierney. “If your doonas and pillows are feather, you are better off using a reputable dry cleaner.”

Always hanging your used, wet towels back up? Ms Tierney says towels should be washed every two to three uses – at 60 degrees C to help kill any germs.

She adds: “If you want your towels to be nice and fluffy, tumble-dry them with a tennis ball.”

How often do you wash these items? Do you have any other tips for keeping towels nice and fluffy?

– With PA

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