Dirty Laundry: How Many Times Can I Wear The Same T-Shirt?

There's a fine line between being low-maintenance and borderline nasty.

Admit it: At some point, you’ve wondered whether you can wear the T-shirt you just tossed in the hamper, especially when you live alone and doing your laundry on a Saturday afternoon isn’t particularly tempting. Or maybe your laundry schedule is simply falling behind and you’ve ransacked your closet only to realize that you're left with this week’s dirty pile. 

The occasional one-repeat shirt may pass the sniff test, and it’s true that you shouldn't wash all of your clothes after each use to prevent them from wearing out. However, there is a fine line between being low-maintenance and borderline nasty, with different rules for various garments. 

We put together a list of the most common clothing items and how long you can go in them before tossing them in the wash. 

Four to six wears

With its roots in workwear, jeans are the workhorse of your wardrobe; they’re more laundry-resilient than your other threads, which may come as good news to hardworking young men (and broke college students). This does come with a footnote: Raw denim (especially selvedge) can last for months without a wash, provided they don’t smell. For your usual pair of mass-produced jeans, however, you can go for about a whole work week in them before sending them to the laundry. 


Socks and underwear 
After every use

“But you can turn them inside out!” Sorry, fellows, but this is non-negotiable. Your private stuff—underwear, undershirts, socks—are only good for a single wear, so stock up on plenty of pairs. Know if you’re going to run out of underwear the night before, so you can do a quick wash in the sink and hang them to dry overnight.

One to two wears

T-shirts can last for as long as two wears, depending on the weather and how much you sweat. As tees absorb more oil and sweat, you may have to chuck them into the dirty pile sooner than you think. If you’ve been walking all day under the Manila sun, don’t hope for an encore. 

Button-down shirts and sweaters 
Three to four wears

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Meanwhile, button-down shirts and sweaters can go for longer than T-shirts, especially if you’re the type to sport undershirts. Like T-shirts, how long you can repeat your button-down shirts and sweaters will depend on the weather and the amount you sweat. Do a quick sniff test in the armpit area: If it doesn’t stink, hang your shirt to air it out. 

Shorts and pants 
Three to five wears

Bottom garments are generally hardier than tops, so it’s safe to say that you can last for almost a week in your trusty pair before giving them a rinse. You will have to wash them more regularly than jeans, though, as fabrics like khaki absorb more oil and sweat; not to mention, stain spots are more visible on them. 

Four to five wears

Even if you do nothing else but sleep in them, it will only take you about four to five nights in your PJs before you need to throw them in the laundry. When we go to bed, we actually sweat more than we realize: about a liter, to be specific.  

Workout clothes 
After every use


Gym nuts will have to stock up on athletic wear, especially if you have overactive sweat glands or you’re into high-impact sports such as Crossfit. Sportswear made out of performance fabric such as water-resistant nylon may extend up to a few more wears. 

Workday suits 
Four to five wears

For corporate gents, your workday suit can last you for an entire week before sending them to the cleaners. Even better if you have other suits in your closet to alternate in between days. Spot-treat any visible stains like spilled sauces.

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Sam Beltran
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