Laundry: Are we washing too much?

I posted on facebook the other day that I was going to wear the same outfit for the third straight day and I asked if that was bad.   I was surprised by the reaction I got.   Almost everyone said “Go for it”.  Maybe it’s because they are in Florida or just know they won’t be seeing or smelling me.   One friend did say it reminds him of his 6 year old son, who has been wearing his jammies since Christmas Eve, 4 days ago.

For my part,  I did change my undies and socks each day.  I also took the clothes off before bed each night and folded them neatly on the dresser.   I did not sweat in them. And I did a sniff test before putting them on each day too.   Below is the outfit.

It got me thinking.  Do I really need to wash my clothes and my kids’ clothes after each wearing?  You wouldn’t beleive the laundry piles at my house.  And in winter, it’s even worse because we are all wearing heavier, bulkier items and more of them.

Dirty Laundry accumulated in last 24 hours

So I went on-line to research if there is a science to how often you should wash your clothes.  Not really.  But it is better for the enviroment and the clothing items themselves if you don’t wash after every single wear.   Maybe I am finally going green.


“The first step to being eco-friendly is simply doing less laundry.  Just because you wore it once, doesn’t mean it has to go in the laundry basket.   If you wear a shirt and it’s not dirty, stained or sweat soaked, hang it up for another day.  In a study conducted by the United Nations Environment Program it was found that jeans worn for 3 wearings, washed in cold water and dried out on the line consumed almost 5 times less energy than jeans worn once and tossed into the hamper.”

As I mentioned earlier, there are still a few things I routinely wash after wearing just once: undies, socks and workout clothes.  However, that could be changing.  Companies are developing anti stink fabrics.  A company called Agion Active has created a technology that eliminates odors on or around the fabric.   Their website challenges consumers to try their anti-stink activewear and put it through the most extreme workouts.  You have to see some of the results from the personal experiments.  One guy said he wore his anti stink shirt for two weeks.  Maybe I should sign up.

Lululemon might have beat them to the punch. They are already selling items with anti-stink labels.   Click the next link to learn more about their product. Say Hello to Silverescent Luon! from lululemon athletica on Vimeo.

The sales lady told me these items are great for travel and she ended up wearing her pants through twelve hot and sweaty yoga classes before she washed them.  It just doesn’t seem right.  But with new technology, maybe that will be the wave of the future.

Another tip for more eco friendly laundry habits: Hang items to dry.   Studies show you could save an estimated 700 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year by line-drying your family’s laundry.

The Clothes Line

Then there are the clothes that say dry clean only.   I may not wear them consecutive days in a row, but they probably get at least a half dozen wearings before I bring them in.  And come to think of it, my hubby, with his sensitive nose, has never complained about those articles smelling, only the workout clothes that I wash all the time.

So cheers to washing less and getting more wear in 2011 and beyond.