In a recent article, CNN rounded up some doctors and asked: "How many times can you wear pajamas, jeans, and other clothes without washing them?"
And although the answer to this question is obvious with certain types of clothing — underwear, socks, and gym clothes, for example, should be washed in hot water with soap after each day of wearing (no shocker there) — other items, just as jeans, can go a lot longer than the "after 2–3 wears" that I thought was permissible.
In fact, when it comes to jeans, Dr. Anthony Rossi of the American Academy of Dermatology said, "I personally don't wash my jeans." In his opinion, compromising the fabric of a nice pair of jeans isn't necessary unless they are truly soiled or stinky — a good jean material will hold up better if you keep them away from the washing machine, and not washing them won't hurt you.
Another dermatologist, Dr. Jeremy Fenton, was a tad more conservative when it comes to jeans, but pretty much agreed. "If somebody were to tell me that they were wearing their jeans for months on end and not washing them and they hadn't had any problems with their skin or problems with odor, I wouldn't see any problem at all."
With T-shirts, pajamas, and other clothes that touch your skin but don't absorb a lot of sweat, a lot of factors come into play, which the experts explain via CNN:
Not knowing when to wash your clothes can have consequences on both ends of the spectrum. Washing them too seldom could lead to skin problems or infections, and washing them too often could harm your clothing. The latter can also result in unnecessary laundry and use of resources.
"As far as your pants and your shirts, I think it's all a level of comfort and how much you're perspiring throughout the day," Rossi said. "A lot of people wear undershirts. The undershirt would be something to wash, whereas your top shirt you don't really need to wash." …
If you usually shower before bed, wear underwear and sweat little to none when wearing pajamas, you could wear them for a week without washing, experts said. But if you don't do these things, you'd need to wash them every time.
Outerwear — such as coats or jackets — typically doesn't need to be washed more than once a month since it doesn't touch your skin, Rossi said. "If you're wearing it every day, probably (wash it) every two weeks," he suggested.
The most important questions you should ask yourself, experts say, when considering whether to wear something again without washing are these: Does it smell? Do I have any skin conditions, such as eczema, a rash or a skin lesion? Is it visibly dirty? Is it sweaty? Did I wear underwear with this?
In other words, if it looks fine and passes the ol' sniff test, it's as good as new!