Things you are washing too frequently – and how often you actually need to wash them

Washing these five things too frequently could be causing irreparable damage, experts warn

A laundry room with stacked washing machine and dryer, shelves beside them stocked with laundry products and baskets
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It is routine to wear a garment two, maybe three times and throw it in the laundry, but there are some things around our home and closet that we are washing too frequently – and it could be damaging them. 

While there is no harm in doing laundry to keep things clean, say after a spill or a hard workout in the gym, other everyday items usually benefit from extended wear between washes, laundry experts say.

These are the five things you are washing too frequently, and how often you should really be resigning them to the laundry basket. 

Things you are washing too frequently

Overwashing is a common laundry mistake for a few reasons, from ocsting you more in energy and water bills, to wearing down fibers, reducing their structural integrity explains Lina DaSilva, cleaning expert and founder of Toronto Shine Cleaning:

‘Excessive washing not only accelerates wear and tear on fabrics but also has a significant environmental toll. It increases water and energy consumption and contributes to the faster degradation of clothing, leading to more waste. Over-washing also necessitates more frequent replacements, adding to consumer costs and environmental strain.’ 

What’s more, knowing which items benefit from less frequent washing is a great laundry technique to save you some time, as you are not left washing, ironing, and folding pieces on repeat that could have been used a few more times.  

Miele washing machine in a stylish farmhouse modern laundry room with sage green cabinets, a sink full of flowers, and a decorative vase

(Image credit: Miele)

1. Denim

One of the worst offenders for overwashing is denim, no matter its quality, begins Leanne Lee, head fashion stylist at Blue Bungalow

‘Denim is often a victim of over-washing, which can lead to fading, shrinking, and loss of shape,’ she explains. Instead, she suggests washing denim only when necessary, roughly every five to ten wears.

‘Spot cleaning and air drying are preferable to preserve the fabric’s integrity and color, and checking the garment's laundry symbols when you do come to put them in the washing machine,’ she suggests. ‘Denim enthusiasts can also freeze their jeans to kill bacteria without washing.’

2. Woolen garments and home decor

Whether you are washing a woolen blanket, or even washing cashmere, extending the time between washes is essential to helping it maintain their softness and shape, Leanne Lee, stylist, continues. 

Instead, she recommends washing woolen items every five wears at most, using cold water and a gentle cycle or hand wash, always checking the symbols and washing instructions before cleaning.

‘Remember to always lay wool items out flat to dry to maintain their shape.’

The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo | View at Amazon

The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo | View at Amazon
This wool and cashmere shampoo is perfect for keeping the most delicate of fibers fresh and free from damage, for sweaters and blankets that stay soft for years to come.

3. Fabrics with elastic qualities

From gym wear to leggings, any fabric that has elastic properties to help them conform to your body or spring back into shape needs to be washed with caution, making sorting clothes for laundry even more important, says Shayne Jeramos, cleaning expert at Bright Cleaners.

‘Excessive washing can cause the fabric to lose elasticity,’ they explain. While sweaty gym wear should be washed every wear, outer layers and general everyday garments should be spared and put in the laundry every three wears instead.

Shayne Jeramos
Shayne Jeramos

 Shayne Jeramos has been a cleaning specialist at Bright Cleaners for over 2 years and has extensive experience with residential and cleaning services. 

4. Bras

Bras and other supportive garments sit close to our bodies for long periods of the day. As a result, it can make sense for them to be washed every use. Head fashion stylist Leanne Lee suggests otherwise.

‘Regular washing of bras, especially after each wear, can lead to loss of shape, elasticity, and overall wear and tear. Rather, bras should be washed after every three to four wears, unless they are heavily soiled. 

Hand washing in cold water with a gentle detergent is ideal to maintain the fabric's integrity, and when putting them in the washing machine, use a gentle cycle and never wash with towels

‘Air dry by laying the bra flat, as machine drying can damage the underwire and elastic.’

Honeycomb Mesh Laundry Bags | View at Amazon

Honeycomb Mesh Laundry Bags | View at Amazon
These heavy-duty Honeycomb mesh laundry bags are specially designed to wash delicate clothes, reducing wear and tear in washing machines and dryers.

5. Pajamas

Keeping your bed clean is a must if you want to sleep better and have better skin. However, while many of us make the bedding laundry mistake of not washing our sheets enough, some of us are making the converse error of overwashing our nightwear. 

‘Frequent washing can cause fading and reduce the softness of pajama fabrics,’ says Cristina Solis, sustainability consultant at Green Hive. ‘Pajamas worn for sleeping in a clean environment can be worn up to three times before washing while washing in cold water helps to maintain fabric quality,’ she explains. 

Keeping your PJs comfy, in tandem with maintaining good sleep hygiene, is the best way to improve your rest.  

Downy Rinse & Refresh Cool Cotton | View at Target

Downy Rinse & Refresh Cool Cotton | View at Target
Downy Rinse & Refresh is a laundry odor remover that helps rinse away the smelly residue trapped within fabric fibers and keep them smelling fresher for longer between washes

Cristina Solis
Cristina Solis

Cristina is a sustainability expert, and has created educational content, promoted eco-conscious actions, and guided businesses toward sustainable practices. Her commitment extends to rigorously evaluating sustainable brands, ensuring reliable information, and for a greener world.

FAQs

How do I know if I am overwashing my clothes?

You can usually tell if you are overwashing your clothing if it is starting to feel different, or the color has faded and you haven't owned the garment for very long (over a year or two). Fabrics that are dull, don’t hold their original shape, or no longer feel soft, may have been over-laundered and it is a sign you need to be more mindful of your washing routine.  

How do I know if I am overloading my washing machine?

While washing your clothes too frequently is a surefire way to damage them, so too is washing too many clothes at once. Never fill your washing machine drum more than three-quarters full to give your garments plenty of space to move around without damaging friction, and to give your detergent a chance to reach every inch of fabric.  


Washing these items less frequently does more good than saving the fibers. Reducing how often you wash large loads of laundry will also help you to cut energy bills and save money at home by doing less frequent washes and getting more out of your existing pieces, so you don't have to replace them as often. It’s a win-win!  

Chiana Dickson
Writer

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.