Guide to Washing Women's Clothes

bras and a delicates bag

​The Spruce / Erica Lang

Knowing when women's clothes need to be washed varies from garment to garment. Some items can be worn several times, others need washing after every wear. Here are some guidelines for everything from underwear to sweaters to sleepwear to help you keep your clothes looking fresh and at their best.

  • 01 of 08

    Bras, Panties, and Shapewear

    shapewear items
    The Spruce / Fiona Campbell

    Unless you perspire profusely, bras can withstand 3 to 4 wearings between washings. But they do need a 24-hour break after each wearing for the elastic to recover. If it is hot sticky weather, wash them after each wearing. Perspiration wears down the elastic so washing actually extends the life of the bra.

    The guidelines for shapewear are similar to bras. Because shapewear is worn so close to the skin, it needs frequent cleaning but it must be done properly to keep the elastic properties at their best.

    Panties should be washed after every wearing. To protect delicate thongs and lacy panties, hand wash or place them in a mesh bag and wash on the delicate cycle.

    For all lingerie, skip the clothes dryer and direct sunlight. The high heat is deadly to delicate and elastic fibers. Air dry on an indoor drying rack.

  • 02 of 08

    T-Shirts and Jeans

    stack of jeans

    The Spruce / Erica Lang

    T-shirts and camisoles are body-hugging, close-fitting garments similar to underwear. The t-shirts and camisoles should usually be washed after every wearing. This is particularly important for white garments that can develop yellow underarm stains if not washed correctly.

    Denim jeans are sturdy and great at hiding stains. But if they are tight fitting, they still should be washed after every 4 to 5 wearings even if they look clean. To protect the dark color, wash jeans inside out to prevent fading.​

    For shorts and casual pants that are made of khaki or lightweight fabrics, wash after every two to three wearings or when a visible stain appears.

  • 03 of 08


    blouse on a drying rack

    ​The Spruce / Erica Lang

    As a general rule, women's blouses and tops should be washed after every wearing. Of course, if you don't perspire heavily or you only wear it for an hour or so, you may be able to get a couple of wearings. Always check the care labels to select the correct washing or dry cleaning methods.

    To extend the life of blouses and tops, don't overdo underarm antiperspirants. They can discolor and leave a heavy residue on clothing. Wear an undershirt or dress shields to prevent staining to blouses.

    If it is a special occasion or dressy blouse that you don't wear often, clean it after each wear. You don't want to find a stain a few months later when you're ready to wear it again. Older stains are harder to remove.

  • 04 of 08

    Office Wear

    women's blazer

    ​The Spruce / Erica Lang

    If your business attire is worn in an air-conditioned office, you can usually get four or five wearings before washing unless you drop your lunch in your lap. Always hang dresses, pants or jackets you've just worn for at least 24 hours before wearing again so the fibers can relax and air. This will allow fibers to rebound and wrinkles to relax.

    You may also need to do touch-up pressing or place the garments in a clothes dryer fo outfitted with steam drying or in a regular dryer with a damp white lint-free towel for ten minutes to help remove wrinkles.

    Jackets can usually be worn five or six times before they need cleaning - either by washing or dry cleaning (check the labels) - unless they have a readily visible stain. Be sure to check key contact areas often - collars, sleeves, elbows - to be sure they are clean. Again, be sure to give them breathing time between wearings. You may also need to use an odor remover for fabrics to whisk away light odors.

    If you have a matching jacket and pants or jacket and skirt, be sure to wash or dry clean them together each time. This will prevent uneven fading.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08


    women's sweaters

    ​The Spruce / Erica Lang 

    If you wear another garment like a blouse or t-shirt under your sweater, you can get six or more wearings from a sweater before it needs washing or dry-cleaning (unless you're prone to spills). If you wear it next to your body, one or two wearings is about all you can expect before it needs to be cleaned.

    As with jackets, check necklines, cuffs, and elbows each time to be sure they are still clean.

  • 06 of 08


    pajamas on the bed

    ​The Spruce / Erica Lang 

    Did you know you sweat at night? We all do. We also shed thousands of skin cells. So, wash your pajamas or nightgowns or sleepwear after two or three wearings. If you shower right before bed you might be able to go a bit longer.

    Don't forget, those sheets also need washing at least once per week.

  • 07 of 08

    Exercise and Yoga Clothes

    exercise clothes

    ​The Spruce / Erica Lang

    Your workout gear should be washed after every wearing. You probably perspired heavily, the fabrics are body hugging and can harbor bacteria and odor. And don't forget your tennis shoes and to clean your gym bag or tote. Wash a gym bag if possible or wipe out with a disinfecting wipe.

    If you like to wear yoga pants but don't really do yoga, they still need to be treated with care to keep them looking nice and help them last as long as possible.

    Swimsuits should be washed after every wearing. Salt, chlorine, perspiration, and body oils are deadly to the fibers of swimwear. This rule applies even if you didn't get in the water. Like underwear, swimsuits are intimate garments and must be washed after every wearing.

  • 08 of 08



    ​The Spruce / Erica Lang

    Outerwear can usually be worn multiple times before cleaning unless it has a readily visible stain. Again, be sure to give them breathing time between wearings by hanging on a sturdy hanger to relax and dry completely. Be sure to check key contact areas often - collars, sleeves, elbows - to be sure they are clean.