How often should you replace your underwear?

How Often Should You Replace Your Underwear?

We all have that trusty pair of underwear in our drawer, showing signs of wear but too comfy to toss. It’s like that cherished childhood teddy bear.

But how often should you replace your underwear? Beyond the obvious wear and tear, there’s the unseen—bacteria that linger despite washing.

In this guide, we’ll dive into when it’s time to let go, and tips to prolong the life of your favorite pairs. By the end, you’ll know exactly when to refresh your collection and how to care for it, ensuring both comfort and hygiene.

How Often Should You Replace Your Underwear?

Let’s address the burning question: how often should you really be refreshing your underwear collection?

Expert Opinions

From the TODAY article, Dr. Jen Gunter, author of The Vagina Bible, debunks the myth that underwear magically turns into an “infectious catastrophe” after six to nine months. She emphasizes that there’s no need for special maintenance for the vagina and vulva.

Dr. Chavone Momon-Nelson, an OB-GYN, also agrees, stating there’s no rule that underwear should be replaced after a specific period. The key is to keep them clean. Dr. Christine Greves, practicing at the Center of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Orlando, highlights that as long as underwear is clean and preferably made of cotton, it’s good to go.

The Refinery29 article offers a similar perspective. Philip M. Tierno, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU, mentions that as long as you’re washing and disinfecting your underwear, there’s no germ-related reason to replace them.

They don’t have an expiration date. The only time you should consider replacing them is when they’re frayed or the elastic stops working.

Adding to the expert voices, Dr. Shirin Lakhani of Elite Aesthetics, as mentioned in the Independent article, points out that underwear is in close contact with intimate areas for prolonged periods. As a result, it accumulates dead skin and bacteria.

Even if you wash threadbare underwear and they seem clean, they might still harbor bacteria like E.coli. Lakhani advises replacing underwear at least once a year, especially those worn frequently for activities like gym workouts.

Real People, Real Experiences

Over on Reddit, users shared their personal experiences. Some mentioned their underwear lasting for years, while others noticed a decline in quality over time. Factors like the brand, washing habits, and even body changes can influence the lifespan of underwear.

One user pointed out that underwear quality might have declined in recent years, with newer pairs wearing out faster than older ones.

So, How Often Should You Really Your Underwear?

Considering expert advice and personal experiences, here’s the gist:

There’s no fixed rule for when to replace underwear, but cleanliness and condition are key. If they’re worn out or lose their fit, it’s time for new ones.

Otherwise, if they’re clean and comfy, keep them. Always prioritize hygiene and comfort over a set timeline. Trust your instincts and stay mindful of your health.

Signs You Need to Replace Your Underwear

Continuing from our discussion on underwear lifespan, it’s essential to recognize the telltale signs that your undies are past their prime. After all, it’s not just about time; it’s about the condition they’re in. So, what should you be on the lookout for?

  1. Visible Wear and Tear: This one’s a no-brainer. If you spot holes, fraying, or thinning fabric, it’s a clear indication that your underwear has seen better days.
  2. Lost Elasticity: If the waistband no longer snaps back or the material has lost its stretch, it’s time to bid them farewell. Saggy underwear isn’t just uncomfortable; it also doesn’t provide the support you need.
  3. Doesn’t Fit Right Anymore: Over time, underwear can lose its shape or might not fit as it used to, especially after numerous washes or body changes. If they’re too tight, too loose, or just don’t sit right, it’s a sign they need replacing.
  4. Persistent Stains or Odors: Even after a thorough wash, if certain stains or odors linger, it’s a sign that your underwear might be harboring bacteria. It’s best to replace them for hygiene reasons.
  5. Discomfort: If they start to itch, chafe, or just don’t feel right anymore, listen to your body. Comfort is key, and if your underwear isn’t providing it, it’s time for a change.
  6. Fading Colors: While not a direct sign of wear, if your once-vibrant underwear now looks dull and faded, it might be an indication of the fabric’s deteriorating quality.

What Happens if You Don’t Replace Your Underwear?

Let’s delve into the potential consequences of holding onto those old pairs for too long.

  • Bacterial Buildup: Even with diligent washing, old underwear can become a breeding ground for bacteria. While many of these bacteria are harmless, some can lead to conditions like urinary tract infections, irritations, and discharge. Those persistent odors or stains we mentioned earlier? They can be indicators of this bacterial presence.
  • Skin Irritations: Worn-out fabric can become rough or lose its softness. This can lead to chafing, itching, and general discomfort, especially in sensitive areas.
  • Lack of Support: As underwear loses its elasticity, it fails to provide the necessary support. For men, this can mean less protection for the groin area. For women, ill-fitting underwear can lead to discomfort, especially with certain outfits.
  • Hygiene Concerns: Old, deteriorating underwear can’t provide the same level of hygiene as newer pairs. This can increase the risk of yeast infections or urinary tract infections, especially in women.
  • A Blow to Confidence: Let’s face it, wearing a fresh, good-fitting pair of underwear can be a confidence booster. Holding onto old pairs might not give you that same feel-good vibe.

In essence, while it might seem economical or sentimental to hold onto old underwear, the potential health and comfort risks aren’t worth it. Prioritize your well-being and make the switch when necessary.

How Can You Make Underwear Last Longer?

Ensuring your underwear stands the test of time isn’t just about the care you give them, but also about the quality of what you buy. Here’s how you can make your undies last longer and keep them in pristine condition:

  1. Invest in Quality: Start by purchasing high-quality underwear made from durable and sustainable materials. Organic cotton and bamboo viscose, for instance, outlast cheap synthetic fabrics. Not only do they retain their shape and strength longer, but they’re also more eco-friendly, taking less time to decompose.
  2. Hand Wash with Cold Water: While it might seem tedious, hand washing your underwear in cold water can significantly extend their lifespan. It’s gentler on the fabric and helps maintain the garment’s integrity.
  3. Use Gentle Detergents: Harsh chemicals can wear out delicate materials. Opt for a mild detergent to keep your underwear feeling soft and looking new.
  4. Machine Wash Precautions: If you’re short on time and need to machine wash, use hot water occasionally and always place your underwear in a lingerie bag to protect them from tangling or stretching.
  5. Ditch the Dryer: The heat from dryers can weaken the fabric and elastic. Instead, hang your underwear to dry. They’ll maintain their shape better and last much longer.
  6. Treat Stains the Right Way: For those stubborn stains, dab a bit of baking soda on the affected area and gently rub until it fades. This natural remedy can be a lifesaver!
  7. Rotate Your Pairs: Don’t wear the same pair repeatedly. By having a good rotation, you distribute the wear and tear, giving each pair a longer life.
  8. Store Properly: Keep your underwear in a cool, dry place. Folding them neatly can also prevent the elastic waistbands from stretching out, ensuring they fit right every time you wear them.

By following these guidelines, not only will your underwear last longer, but you’ll also ensure they remain bacteria-free, promoting better hygiene. For a deeper dive into underwear care, check out our detailed guide on How to Wash Underwear.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the lifespan of underwear?

The lifespan of underwear varies based on the material, quality, and how often it’s worn and washed. On average, underwear can last between 6 months to a few years. However, some experts often recommend replacing underwear every 6-12 months for hygiene reasons.

When should you throw away underwear?

You should consider throwing away underwear when:

  • They show visible signs of wear and tear, such as holes or fraying.
  • The elasticity is lost, causing them to sag or not fit properly.
  • There are persistent stains or odors even after washing.
  • They cause discomfort, itching, or chafing.

How long does men’s underwear last?

Men’s underwear lifespan varies based on quality and care. While they can technically last anywhere from 6 months to several years, there’s no fixed rule for when to replace them. Cleanliness and condition are the primary indicators.

If they’re worn out, lose their fit, or show signs of wear, it’s time for new ones. On the other hand, if they’re still clean, comfortable, and in good shape, there’s no immediate need to discard them. However, for optimal hygiene and comfort, some experts advise replacing them every 6-12 months, especially if worn frequently.

Can I wear underwear for 4 days?

No, it’s not recommended to wear the same pair of underwear for 4 days consecutively. Wearing underwear for extended periods can lead to bacterial buildup, which can result in infections or skin irritations. It’s best to change underwear daily to maintain personal hygiene.

How many pairs of underwear should I have?

The number of underwear pairs you should have depends on your personal preferences, lifestyle, and laundry habits. On average, it’s recommended to have at least 14-20 pairs of underwear.

This allows you to have a fresh pair for every day of the week, with some extras for emergencies, special occasions, or physical activities. If you do laundry less frequently, you might want to have even more.

How many times can I wear underwear?

Underwear should be worn once and then washed. Wearing the same pair of underwear for multiple days can lead to bacterial buildup, which can result in infections or skin irritations. For hygiene reasons, it’s best to change into a fresh pair daily.


Understanding how often you should replace your underwear is more than just a matter of fashion or preference; it’s about hygiene, comfort, and overall well-being.

While there’s no strict rule set in stone, being aware of the signs of wear and the potential risks of holding onto old pairs is essential.

Prioritize your health, invest in quality, and remember to refresh your collection as needed. After all, a little care goes a long way in ensuring both comfort and cleanliness.

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