Updated: Dec 29, 2022
A question that has been on my mind, and my client’s minds, is “What do I do with clothes after I’m done wearing them?” It sounds like a silly question. I mean, we were taught as children that after wearing clothes we should put them in the hamper to be washed.
But as we grew up we realized that not everything we wear each day gets that dirty. So it wouldn’t make sense to put them in the hamper. Take a shirt you wore for four hours. Do you really need to wash that if nothing was spilled on it?
Because this question has continuously come up, I felt it was best to write a blog post about it. If you’ve been meaning to uncover the mystery about what to do with clothes after wearing them, especially if they aren’t dirty, keep reading.
How do I know when it’s time to wash them?
Let’s cover the basics first: How do you know when it’s time to wash a certain piece of clothing? Truth is, it depends on the fabric, how long you wore it, and how dirty it got.
Workout attire, for example, should be washed after a single use because of all the sweat on it. But a cotton T-shirt can wait for two or even three wears if you didn’t spill anything on it or sweat too much in it.
Seasons should also be taken into account. You might sweat more in the summer so the clothes you wear will need to be washed more often. But if you don’t sweat that much in the winter, you can go a couple of wears before washing.
According to Whirlpool, here is how often you can wear something before washing.
Shirts and blouses: 1-2 times
Sweaters and cardigans: 6 times (with an undershirt) or 1-2 times (with no undershirt)
Suits, blazers, and casual jackets: 5-6 times
Workout clothes: 1 time
Jeans: 4-5 times
Dress pants and slacks: 2-3 times
Sleepwear: 2-3 times
Underwear, socks, and undershirts: 1 time
Bras: 3-4 times
In the end, it really is a judgment call on your part. If you feel that you can wear it again, skip the hamper. Then read on for what to do with clothes you don’t plan on washing right away.
Here are 5 things you can do with clothes after wearing them
#1 — Hang them using the backward hanger method
The backward hanger method is a nifty trick organizers use to help people declutter clothes. For every item you wear you flip the hanger so you can see what you actually wore and what you didn’t. Anything that hasn’t been flipped should be decluttered after a few months to a year.
You can also use this trick for clothes you’ve worn and don’t want to wash right away. After wearing them, hang them back up. But flip the hanger. This system keeps the clothes from your bedroom floor or surfaces.
This way you can see what you wore and when laundry day comes around you can opt to clean it or leave it to wear one more time.
#2 — Drape them over the edge of a hamper
Consider this the limbo way to note clothes that you wore but aren’t ready to wash. By draping them over the edge of your hamper you’re letting yourself know that it’s been worn. However, you’re not confident it needs to be washed. Perhaps you can get one or two more uses out of it.
Be mindful of how many clothes you drape over your hamper, though. Too many and you could run into a problem. That’s why I recommend keeping no more than two or three pieces of clothing over your hamper at a time. If you start to accumulate more than that, either put them in the hamper or use one of the other methods to store them away.
#3 — Dedicate a drawer for them
This option is perfect for those who don’t want their “dirty laundry” out for all to see. Consider dedicating a drawer for the clothes you wore but aren’t ready to wash. One drawer is more than enough. This way after you wear a pair of jeans, you can fold them up and store them inside. Same for shirts or sweaters.
Just make sure you check this drawer when it comes time for laundry. Remove everything from it and give it a whiff. If you feel it needs to be washed, add it to the hamper. If it has a few more wears, hang it back up. A good practice is to remove everything from this drawer once a week. This way it doesn’t get crammed up with a ton of clothes.
#4 — Install wall hooks or use a coat rack
If your closet space allows it, consider installing a few wall hooks. Use them to hang clothes you wore but aren’t ready to wash yet. These will come in handy specifically for sweaters, cardigans, jackets, and pants. Like we mentioned with the drawer before, do a weekly check of the clothes. Remove everything from the hooks and either put it in the hamper or hang it back up.
If you don’t have space for wall hooks, a single-standing coat rack can work just as well. Use the same method as with the hooks. Hang all the clothes you already wore on it and once a week remove everything and make a decision.
#5 — Invest in a garment rack
This option is perfect for those who might want to start dabbling in capsule wardrobes. But it can come in handy for clothes you already wore. After wearing something, hang it on the garment rack rather than back in your closet. This way you have a visual representation of what you’ve already worn.
And for those who might want to test out a capsule wardrobe, you can pick and choose a few pieces from your closet, hang them on the rack, and mix and match for a week.
As with every other method talked about, a weekly check-in is vital. Go through each piece and think about how many times you wore it. If you feel it’s been a lot, toss it in the hamper. If it’s only been once or twice, hang it back in the closet. Or you can leave it there for another week.
Choosing what to do with the clothes you wore but didn’t get dirty can be tricky. You don’t want to overwash your clothes as that will diminish their lifespan. But you also don’t want to avoid washing clothes forever.
It all comes down to judgment. Your judgment. But I hope this post has given you some answers about what to do with clothes after you’ve worn them. What matters is that you take care of your clothes so they last longer. And while it may seem wearing them a few times before washing is the opposite of care, it actually isn’t.
Certain fabrics and materials were made to last longer and should be washed less. That’s why your judgment will be the most important aspect of dealing with clothes that you wore but didn’t get dirty.
Did this post teach you anything new? How often do you wear clothes before washing them? Do you think you’ll try any of the methods I mentioned above? Comment below.