Everyday Living February 27th, 2019

Is It Time To Replace Your Unmentionables?

They’re also called knickers and pretties.

But far from unmentionable, underwear — from bikinis and boxer briefs to socks and shapewear — are arguably the most important items in our wardrobe. For the sake of this article, let’s bring them into the spotlight and consider their importance!

Naturists aside, the majority of humankind wears some form of undergarment every day, no matter what the weather or activity. In spite of this, many of us still allow our bras, panties and socks to nearly fall to pieces before replacing them, forcing us to turn to our sad pile of laundry-day leftovers.

So, this got me to thinking. How often should we replace our unmentionables?

Experts say this comes down to fighting bacteria and preserving your clothing’s structure. Often when these pieces begin to wear down — with broken elastic, loose straps or rogue underwire — we sacrifice comfort, support and hygiene. And in the case of underwear, certain bacteria can stick around even after washing (yikes!).

Other factors, like bodily changes, illness or even a new partner can constitute a hunt for new underwear.

Either way, it’s worth starting fresh after a certain period of time. Explore this guide on when to replace your undergarments to stay healthy and comfortable.



When should I replace my underwear?

As a general rule of thumb, toss out old panties after a year’s worth of wear. Buy new ones that best fit your body shape, current comfort preferences and levels of exercise. If you wait much longer than a year, dust mites, E. Coli and other bacteria can lead to issues like UTIs and thrush.

As for boxers and briefs, stick to the once-a-year rule as well, even if you mainly use boxers as pajamas. A recent study found that men are hanging on to their skivvies an average of seven years, wearing them way after they begin to lose their toughness. Switch them out when elastic starts to go, color fades, or they’re thinning and developing holes.

When is it time to buy a new bra?

Finding the right-sized bra can be a challenge. Any change in body shape, bra structure or strength in the elastic can cause noticeable discomfort throughout the day. Loose underwire also poses a threat to your skin. So, when dealing with any of the following issues, don’t wait to find a trusty new bra:

Change in fit
Bodies change and fluctuate constantly. If you go through a significant weight shift, find a new bra that thoroughly covers and supports you under your favorite clothing.

Lingering odor or color change
Especially after long-term contact with deodorants and sweat, some bras hang on to body odor and lose their color over time.

Broken hardware
Have a broken clasp or loose underwire? Unless it’s an easy fix with a needle and thread, it’s time to replace your bra when supportive hardware starts to go.

Loose straps
If you find yourself constantly pulling your straps back onto your shoulders, your elastic may be losing shape and robbing you of proper support.


When should I swap out my socks?

Your feet excrete as much as two full cups of sweat each day! Considering what your feet do for you from sunup to sundown, it’s important to treat them with care.

Your socks should fit snuggly on your ankle or leg, stay in place as your walk with or without shoes, and keep you from developing blisters on active days. If you typically find yourself reaching down to tug your socks up from your shoes, it’s time to toss them and buy yourself a new pack.

And when your toes do finally wear through your socks, consider replacements made from merino wool, acrylic or nylon. These fabrics are more breathable than cotton and will keep your feet comfy, dry and stink-free.



Keeping your unmentionables clean and like new

While socks and boxers are pretty durable, change up your laundry habits to maintain the durability of bras and panties. Properly cleaning undergarments also protects you from bacteria hanging on until your next wear.

Always handwash your lingerie and super-delicate undies with mild, unscented detergent to prolong their lifespan. Feel free to wash your tougher panties, bras and briefs in the washing machine, but place them in mesh bags before throwing them in with the rest of the load. By doing so will prevent your towels or jeans from breaking up its delicate materials.

After standard washes, professor of microbiology Charles Gerba explains, germs from our garments can stay in washing machines long after cleaning. Consider occasionally running a cycle without clothing for a quick machine cleaning.

Overall, air-drying your underwear is your best bet. The heat of the dryer can break down the shape and elasticity of many of your items, especially delicate underwear. Air dry them flat or on a hanging rack and be sure to keep them away from direct sunlight to preserve color.

Undergarments spend more time directly against our skin more than any other piece of clothing. Our comfort throughout the day often hinges on whether our bra, underwear and socks fit well. So, don’t get your knickers in a twist: Keep them strong, clean and healthy by washing them with care and replacing them when they lose their original quality.

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