Many of us don't realise how much water we’re wasting by washing clothes too often. Of course, if garments are very obviously stained or smelly they should be washed to keep them looking and feeling fresh, but clothing doesn’t always have to be cleaned each time it’s worn. So, how often are you supposed to wash your clothes, really?
Certain items need to be washed more often than others, which means that the amount of washes we do per week can be significantly reduced. If you’ve ever wondered how often you should wash your clothes and other fabrics in the home, then we’ve got everything you need to know right here. Plus if you want to check what temperatures you should be washing at, read our guide here.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU WASH JEANS?
Denim aficionados will often tell you that a good pair of jeans should never be washed. While it’s true that jeans don’t need cleaning after every wear unless they’re very dirty, they do need to be washed regularly to get rid of any germs or bacteria that have clung to the fibres. But it can be tricky to work out exactly how often to wash jeans, especially if they still look relatively clean. A good guideline is to stick them in the wash every 4 or 5 wears, unless they look (or smell) dirty.
Most jeans today are industrially treated which means that they’re very unlikely to fade in the wash, but if you’re worried about the effects of washing on raw denim, be sure to wash the jeans inside out, and with a colour care laundry detergent, like Persil Colour Protect, that will help preserve the dye. It's also effective even on short washes, making it a great choice when you're taking steps to save water. Click here for more tips on washing denim.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU WASH YOUR TOWELS?
Some of us wash our towels every day; whereas some of us can’t remember the last time we washed our towels! To ensure our families stay healthy and happy, washing regularly is the best bet - but do you actually know how often to wash towels?
Bath towels need washing the most infrequently – about once a week. This provides a happy medium between living a greener lifestyle and ensuring there’s not too much of a build-up of dead skin cells.
Hand towels should be washed with a little more regularity – every 2-3 days. This is because they’re used more often, and they could be used to dry hands that are not completely clean.
Face towels and tea towels should ideally be washed after each use. Re-using face towels means you could reintroduce bacteria to your face and tea towels are notorious for harbouring bacteria, as well as damp, which could lead to mould growth.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU WASH BEDDING?
Although many of us are guilty of not washing our bed sheets for a month (or even more!), they should really be washed every week or at least every 2 weeks. That's ok in normal situations but what about if someone has been unwell? Do you know how often to wash bed sheets following sickness? The answer is a lot more frequent that you might realise: every other day to prevent the spread of germs.
Even though the bedding may not look dirty, dead skin cells – many of which you struggle to see with the naked eye – can attract all manner of creepy crawlies, including bed bugs who thrive on these.
It’s really not difficult to wash your bedding (don’t forget the pillowcases!) just pop it in the washing machine with some Persil detergent and wash at the highest temperature stated on the care label. The hot environment will make sure any nasties are well and truly gone and in most cases 40 degrees is the perfect temperature to effectively clean your sheets while being kind to the environment.
HOW TO SEPARATE CLOTHES FOR WASHING
Now you know how often to do laundry for all your different items, it's a good idea to know which types of laundry loads you can combine.
Sticking to full loads when you put a wash on is a great way to save water and energy but can you wash towels with clothes or sheets? And can you wash whites with colours without staining them?
CAN YOU WASH TOWELS WITH SHEETS AND CLOTHES?
In a nutshell, no: it's always best to wash your towels separately from your bed sheets, and from your clothes.
The main reasons for this are:
Towels need to be washed on a higher heat to most other items. This is so that they leave the machine free from germs and bacteria. For your clothes, it's best to stick to a cooler wash where possible to keep them in top condition.
Towels shed fluffy lint in the washing machine. This can be difficult to get off clothes and bedsheets, especially if they follow them into the dryer. Although putting a towel in with your smart work clothes might seem like a timesaver, you could find yourself picking little bits of cotton off each item afterwards.
Towels are rougher and heavier than clothes or sheets. Not only will they take longer to dry and use more water in the washing, the fluffy surface of towels creates friction which might damage more delicate items while washing and drying. Sturdy cotton items can usually withstand this but delicate materials and underwear won't do as well.
If you need to throw in the towel (so to speak) and do a mixed load of laundry every now and again, it's fine — just avoid including delicates in the wash. Try and get into the practice of good laundry habits by separating your towels from the rest of your laundry where possible though.
CAN YOU WASH WHITES WITH COLOURS? HOW TO SEPARATE LAUNDRY COLOURS
It's always safest to avoid doing this unless you're happy to risk dulling down the brightness of your white shirts (or turning them all pink!)
How much a coloured item of clothing will transfer its pigment in the wash depends on what kind of dye is used and how it's been set - but predicting this can be hard.
It's better to be safe than sorry and learn how to separate laundry colours by following these basic rules:
Wash brights, darks and lights separately
Use Persil Colour Protect to help prevent colour fade
Wash delicate items inside out and consider handwashing if you're worried
Wash new clothes on their own if you're worried about colour run - this mostly applies to clothes with strong colours
HOW TO SAVE WATER IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM
Now you know how often to wash jeans is only every 4-5 wears, you may find you need to do fewer loads of laundry which can help save water. To get the most out of this benefit, here are some other easy ways you can save water in the laundry room: helping you to live a greener, more environmentally-friendly lifestyle, and reduce your household bills, too!
Try to delay doing the laundry until you have a full load of washing. Unless your machine has a ‘half load’ option, or uses smart technology, the machine will use the same amount of water for a partial load as it does a full load.
If you use a top-loading washing machine, consider swapping it for a front-loading machine. Front-loaders use much less water as they toss the clothing through water sprays, rather than submerging the clothing fully like top-loaders.
Don’t use an extra rinse cycle unless absolutely necessary. The extra rinse cycle is often used to ensure that all detergent has been removed to avoid causing reactions to those with sensitive skin. if you and your family are prone to this sensitivity, try switching to a non-biological detergent like Persil Non-Bio and only use the dose recommended on the bottle to ensure you don't leave any residue behind that may cause irritation.
For more advice on when and how to do laundry in an environmentally way, check out our tips for sustainable laundry.
By avoiding unnecessary laundry loads and making your washes more efficient, you'll help to protect both the environment and your clothes — and save yourself time and money in the process!