Are we washing our clothes too often?

Are we washing our clothes too much? [Photo: Getty]
Are we washing our clothes too much? [Photo: Getty]

Come on, fess up, you’ve gone a little too long without tackling the laundry basket.

You’re certainly not alone if your basket is overflowing, with laundry ranking typically low on most people’s lists of favourite household chores.

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But, while many of us would admit to dodging the washing way more than we should, new data from Bosch has put a new spin (geddit?) on our changing attitude to laundry and how regularly we should be doing it.

The survey, of 2,000 Brits set out to air the UK’s dirty laundry and find out just how often the public are putting a load on, along with attitudes towards repeat wear wardrobes and the environment.

And it threw up some pretty surprising stats about how often we empty the washing basket and why we could actually be washing our clothes too much.

READ MORE: Unpleasant reason why you should change your bed sheets more regularly

With climate change topping our environmental agendas and many of us trying to live more sustainably, particularly when it comes to our wardrobes, it seems this is having a knock-on effect on how often we’re washing our clothes.

While we’re not opposed to other people re-wearing their clothes multiple days in a row, with 58% admitting they have no problem with it, a quarter admit they’d feel dirty themselves.

Turns out men are more likely than women to feel self-conscious, dirty or embarrassed about wearing a top without washing it.

But it’s a different story when it comes to their pants, with men admitting to wearing underwear two times before throwing them in the wash.

Whilst this level of hygiene may be questioned by some, women aren’t totally in the clear either wearing their bras an average of eight times, despite men thinking they’re washed after two!

On average, t-shirts are considered dirty after two wears whilst trousers, jumpers and jeans are considered dirty after wear four.

READ MORE: How often should you wash your tea towel daily to avoid food poisoning?

Should we re-wear our clothes before sticking them in the wash? [Photo: Getty]
Should we re-wear our clothes before sticking them in the wash? [Photo: Getty]

When it comes to the reasons people aren’t always keen on re-wearing their clothes, almost one quarter of people revealed they feel pressure from society to look presentable and 16% believe a second wear could leave a bad impression. 

These pressures are causing us to wash clothes more frequently than is strictly necessary, resulting in potentially avoidable environmental impact.

But we are trying to wash more sustainably with 27% of Brits saying they often consider the environment when doing their laundry, though 18% still admit to putting a wash on, even if the machine isn’t full. 

With that in mind, Bosch are on a mission to encourage Brits to wash their clothes less often, taking more notice of how quickly (or slowly) clothes start to smell or look dirty.

“While it may sometimes feel like we are up against a never ending stream of washing, it seems that if we can all make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of relatively fresh items creeping their way into the wash bin, everyone can limit their washing impact in some way,” a Bosch spokesperson explains.

While there’s no perfect answer for how often clothes should be washed, we could all try to reduce the number of ‘almost fresh’ items that creep into the wash bin, which will have a knock-on effect on our washing impact.

Bosch aren’t alone in their bid to encourage us to wash a little less. Last summer Stella McCartney revealed she avoids washing her clothes whenever possible.

The designer said she has one basic rule in life: “If you don’t absolutely have to clean anything, don’t clean it.”

“I wouldn’t change my bra every day and I don’t just chuck stuff into a washing machine because it’s been worn,” she told The Observer. “I am incredibly hygienic myself, but I’m not a fan of dry cleaning or any cleaning, really.”

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