In an interview with The Independent, Dr. Shirin Lakhani of Elite Aesthetics insists underwear should be replaced at least once a year, if not more. Lakhani says that because underwear is near your intimate areas for prolonged periods of time it takes in “dead skin” and “bacteria,” both healthy and unhealthy, and the unhealthy can lead to infections. Plus, the doctor says research shows that washing your underwear may not be enough to get rid of such bacteria.
Narendra Pisal, consultant gynecologist at London Gynecology, agrees, although notes that it really does depend on how many underwear you own. Pisal suggests a maximum of 50 washes for some cotton underwear, although adds obviously, if your underwear is causing chaffing, skin irritation or is torn, you may need to do it sooner."
45% of Americans wear their underwear for 2 consecutive days. Only 53% of Americans buy new underwear annually.
Here are some easy steps to keep in mind next time you’re washing your underwear to make sure they’re clean as can be:
- Tumble dry your underwear on low heat for 30 minutes after washing. This will minimize the amount of bacteria your underwear gathers after a wash. You can also iron if that’s more your speed!
- Don’t mix your underwear in the same load with your significant other or children if they’re sick. Doing so only increases the amount of bacteria hanging out in your washing machine.
- Avoid washing contaminated underwear with other pairs and clothing. This is especially important for those who have bacterial infections.
- Wash your underwear separately from clothing containing other bodily fluids. If any article of clothing is stained, it’s better to wash it separately from your underwear.