This is how frequently you should be changing your underwear

This is how frequently you should be changing your underwear

There’s something incredibly satisfying about wearing a matching bra and undies set under your outfit. It’s almost as if you are dressed in a concealed coat of armour (in the form of a black lace bralette and underpants) that radiates organised, capable and ‘has her sh*t together’ energy.

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Although, something that isn’t radiating the same energy? The overflowing undie drawer you picked the exact same set out of this morning. And to really kick you while you’re down, according to GQ, half the contents of that drawer have well exceeded their use by date. Yep, apparently we should be disposing of our undies every six months and replacing them with new ones.

So… once the initial embarrassment subsided and the defensive internal ‘how wasteful, my undies are in perfect condition’ monologue came to a finish,  we did a little bit of our own investigating, before embarking on a full-on undie purge.

Speaking to Refinery 29, Philip M. Tierno, Professor of Microbiology and Pathology at the New York University School of Medicine and author of the soon to be released First, Wear A Face Mask: A Doctor’s Guide to Reducing Risk of Infection During the Pandemic and Beyond, elaborated on the underwear lifespan.

According to Dr Tierno, as long as we are undertaking normal washing practices (which we are), our undies don’t have a strict expiration date, “As long as you’re washing and disinfecting your underwear, and they’re mechanically functional, with no holes, and they’re not soiled, you can keep those” adding “when they become frayed or the elastic stops working, you’ll know to replace them”.

And in what we hope doesn’t become your new go-to ‘did you know’ fact for that (post) dinner party conversation, according to the 2001 research from the Journal of Infection, there’s about one-tenth of a gram of poop in the average clean pair of undies. However, Dr Tierno reassures that while most of the bacteria are eradicated from a proper wash, the small amount that sticks around won’t hurt you, “your machine won’t leave behind enough microbes to create a problem for you,” he said.

If you are still not convinced, you can do as Justin Bieber does and dispose of your underpants after every use (we don’t recommend this) or Dr Tierno recommends running a bleach cycle with no clothes on a monthly basis to ensure your washing machine is not collecting extra bacteria.

So, if you’re prepared to wash your undies after every use and chuck them when the elastic is gone and they are full of holes, then we think the ‘replace every six-month’ rule can be abolished.

Main image credit: @lovestoriesHow often are you replacing your underwear?

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Comments 46

  1. hhmm ….well thats a no for me. Mine get tossed out when they no longer function. Elastic goes or they get holes in them. tossing out all your underwear every 6 months and starting again seems very wasteful.

  2. Clean them properly, there is no need to chuck them, that is a waste.
    Overall everyone needs to be sustainable to help the planet and in addition to that the cost is too great to replace that often if they are still in good condition (if you buy pricey ones).

  3. Ok, this headline grabbed my attention. I am guilty of not tossing for ages. I’d rather save money there and spend it elsewhere. It’s not like I’ve got a gorgeous body anyway so who cares if my knickers aren’t sexy or pretty.

    Although, my mum has always said (no not life is like a box of chocolates) that you should wear knickers as if you are going to be in an accident and a nurse has to remove them. Sometimes I wonder about what accident she thinks may require your knickers to be removed.

    The sun, when it comes out, is apparently a very good germ cleaner but I throw the kids knickers and jocks into the dryer for extra good measure.

  4. I definitely don’t dispose of my. undies every 6 months – more like every 5 years…(I get good undies though – love my bamboo undies). The bleach cycle idea is interesting – I do it with vinegar as worried bleach residues might remain and stain the clothing but maybe I’ll give it a try before a white wash.

  5. I certainly don’t replace my knickers unless the elastic is gone. Surely the six month rule depends on how many undies you own? I own loads, so I can go weeks without wearing the same pair again. It would be different if you only had 3 pairs on rotation.

    I don’t like the idea of doing a load without any clothes. In Sydney, we’re always water-wise. Maybe I’ll throw bleach in with my knickers more often.

  6. I have a dozen pair on rotation and 10 new pair ready for when the older ones don’t feel so comfortable or lose their shape. I think I might have over-shopped at some stage. I also wash my underwear after every use and use panty liners every day which keep my underwear fresh at all times.

  7. Good point. The more you own the less you normally wear as long as you rotate them. If the elastic goes I usually replace them. If I get a hole in my fav pair I will pull out a needle & thread to see if I am able to repair them.

  8. Ok this is a new one for me, never ever considered that my underwear may have poop in it after a good washing in the machine. I highly doubt that is true after a proper washing cycle and use of detergent.

  9. Yeah, nah. Definitely not throwing out my underwear until it is no longer functional. I am unsurprised that traces of faeces can remain on underwear even after washes, but it would be a negligible amount.

  10. I had no idea there was a 6-month rule! Most of mine are way over that timeframe and I would hope for the sake of our environment that underwear would last more than half a year. I add an anti-bac liquid into the wash when it’s got undies and socks and I think that does a good job. Thinking about it, generally I’m getting about 3-4 years of wear from each pair of undies, though I find the very lightweight seamless ones usually last the least.

  11. Definitely keep them longer than 6 months. It seems extremely bad for the environment to throw out perfectly good underwear just because someone came up with a random number. Would definitely depend on how many pairs you own. I don’t even buy expensive ones, I get the target high cut 5 packs, super comfy and last very well.

  12. Like others it is not until the elastic goes that I turf my undies. Believe it or not I keep old ones for when I am staying at home and good ones for when I am going out, both in separate drawers.

  13. Gosh I don’t know why, when I read the title, I actually thought the article would be about how frequently should you change your underwear (daily, maybe twice a day if you are showering twice a day) but it actually turned out to be about replacement, I feel so stupid now.

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