Do you dare to wear your clothes on repeat? If not, I’m daring you to join me in the dare to wear longer challenge! There are plenty of benefits that come with wearing clothes over and over, and I’m excited to share them with you here as part of BAM’s #DareToWearLonger campaign. Last week I was dared to wear a simple Zip Neck Black Baselayer five times – here’s how I got on with the challenge!
Why I Dare To Wear My Clothes On Repeat
So, why did I wear the same top for five days in a row? It’s good for the environment, of course! By wearing clothes more frequently between washes, we can:
- Save up to 26% of our clothes’ carbon emissions
- Reduce our homes’ water usage by up to 9%
- Extend the lifespan of our clothes
…And enjoy outfit repeating too. I’m happy to report that I’m well and truly past the “outfit repeater” snub that used to come to mind every time I wore the same clothes more than once (Lizzie McGuire always did have better style than Kate anyway…) And hey, if you think five times is too many times to wear an item of clothing, wait ’til you see how my friend Jil and I pulled off the 1 Dress, 30 Ways challenge back in 2019!
How Often Should You Wear Clothes Before Washing?
My mum used to joke that if an item of clothing could “stick to the ceiling”, it was time to wash it. While I don’t do the “ceiling test”, I do tend to wear and re-wear clothing until they’re visibly dirty or starting to smell. It helps that I like to layer clothing, so only the base layers get washed frequently, but in the summer washing is more frequent. But what is the average time you can wear something before washing it?
Before taking on this challenge, I thought I was washing my clothes an average amount. As it turns out, I already wash mine far less than what’s prescribed online! While it’s not surprising that guides written by washing machine companies encourage lots of washing, I was surprised to see men’s mags also suggesting we wash almost all garments after a single wear. I can’t tell if I’m just a bit lazy, or there’s a lot of washing propaganda floating about…
For comparison, I decided to break down how often I wash each type of clothing I own, so you can make your own comparisons and see where you can reduce your washes:
How Often Should You Wash Your Clothes?
Activewear: Wash any clothing that has been against skin after 1 wear. Jackets can be worn for longer.
Bras: Wash every 3-4 wears, unless worn on a particularly hot day, and wash by hand.
Pyjamas: Wash after every 2-3 wears.
Jeans: Wash after 20+ wears, or when smelly or dirty. Make sure to wash inside-out!
Knitwear: Wash after 10+ wears when worn with base layers. Wash by hand!
Loungewear: Wash after 3-4 wears, less if worn intensely or overnight.
Outerwear: Take to dry cleaners only if worn close against skin and smells, otherwise spot clean.
Robe: Wash every 2 weeks if worn for only a short period of time post-washing, more frequently if not.
Skirts: Wash after every 3-4 wears, less frequently if worn with tights.
Socks & Tights: Wash after every wear.
Trousers: Wash after every 5 wears.
Underwear: Wash after every wear.
*I have to add, showering daily and using a good deodorant goes a long way to achieving this. Now the question is, do you dare to wear your clothes for a bit longer?
Why You Should Dare To Wear Your Clothes For Longer
The brilliant team at BAM Clothing calculated that 26% of the carbon emissions generated by our clothes throughout their lifecycle are created when we put them in the washing machine. While choosing sustainably-made clothing helps to reduce this overall impact, it still means that over a quarter of emissions linked to clothing is down to how we care for our clothes!
As BAM creates activewear, their mission is to encourage people to wear their clothing at least two times or more. That’s already double what I usually do for my activewear, and especially base layers that touch my skin. It’s why I chose a zip-neck base layer for this challenge!
However, if we’re going to reduce emissions through wearing our clothes more, the first step is to reduce smells and stains…
Why Does Clothing Start To Smell?
Clothing starts to smell when the air reacts with the moisture of sweat, and in turn, this creates odour-causing bacteria (it’s the bacteria that smell, not your sweat!)
Natural fabrics are better at absorbing the moisture of sweat, which means less odour-causing bacteria. With a synthetic top, the moisture doesn’t get absorbed and instead sits on the top of the fabric, letting the air get to it more easily. It’s why polyester can often feel damp and get smelly quicker than other materials.
One of the best materials that absorbs sweat is bamboo. Bamboo not only has a complex fibre structure that absorbs the moisture in sweat really effectively, it’s also 300% more absorbent than organic cotton. As bamboo clothing specialists, BAM know their clothes can be worn more frequently between washes, and after a week of wearing my bamboo top, I have to say I agree!
8 Ways To Wear Your Clothes More & Wash Your Clothes Less
1. Choose the right fabrics for your clothing. Bamboo is one of the best fabrics for absorbing sweat and reducing odours, so choose it for activewear and clothes against your skin. Organic cotton is next best!
2. Layer clothing. To reduce how often you wash your clothes, be sure to layer up. Choose bamboo base layers and basics to extend how infrequently you need to wash these too!
3. Invest in a garment refresher spray. In my guide to eco cleaning products, I shared my love of Norfolks Natural Living’s Garment Refresher, and the sentiment remains. This spray keeps my clothes smelling fresh on second, third, and now, even fifth wears!
4. Spot clean stains. Oh no! You’ve got a fleck of bolognese on a white shirt. Instead of throwing it in the wash, try spot cleaning. I’ve upgraded from the days where I would spot clean stains with a wet tea towel, and now use my W’air. It’s a hand-held device that more efficiently washes clothes, and it’s a dream for removing stains.
5. Stop using fabric conditioner. In my mind, fabric conditioner is an answer to a question nobody asked. It’s useless, and it can also ruin activewear and delicate fabrics, coating them in a plastic film. Just, stop.
6. Wash your clothes in the gentlest way possible. Caring for clothes properly can keep them at their freshest and best for longer. Hand-washing knitwear and delicates is a must. Wash the rest of your clothes at 30°C. The only time I turn my washing machine to a higher temperature is for towels and sheets, which require a deeper clean.
7. Choose an eco-friendly washing machine. Ethical Consumer’s guide to washing machines highlights how inefficient certain machines are, and how newer technology can have you washing clothes at temperatures as low as 20°C.
8. Air-dry your clothing. If you can, dry your clothes on a clothes horse or outdoor clothesline. Air-drying uses much less electricity than a tumble dryer, and is much gentler on fabrics.