Men's Life Today: Expert Q+A
I heard that over-washing a garment can decrease its lifespan, so I wash my nice jeans and sweaters every three or four (or 10) times I wear them. At what point is this unhygienic?
While there isn’t an exact number of wears that make a sweater or pair of jeans officially dirty, they can become contaminated after just a few hours of being on your body.
The simple fact is, as we work through our daily routines, we get dirty. The sweat glands in our bodies are constantly perspiring; our skin cells are always shedding. Wearing an under-layer may protect a sweater from your body’s contaminants, but it doesn’t protect it from surrounding impurities, such as food, dirt and pollutants in the environment. In fact, most people get their clothes dirty by touching them with their own dirty fingers!
Though contact with any of these contaminants can lead to fungal or bacterial infections (which can manifest on your skin as itching, rashes or clogged pores), a good majority of the germs you’ll come across are harmless. That doesn’t mean you should be careless about washing your clothes, however. Just use common sense.
- If you are wearing clothes for long periods in the day, are exercising in them or are working outside often, wash them after every use.
- If you have any open wounds, cover them with adhesive bandages to create a barrier between your skin and the clothing, and make sure to check that the skin is healing well.
- Wash your hands often and use hand sanitizers. Never share used clothes or towels.
- Always keep your dirty clothes separate from the clean ones.
You don’t have to live in a bubble. Just be cautious and aware of your daily activities, and you can avoid clothing-caused skin irritation. -- As told to Elizabeth Narins