What to Do With Your Worn Once Garment That Doesn’t Need Washing?

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What do you do with the clothes that you’ve worn once that don’t need washing but you want to know that they have been worn so that the next time you wear them they will end up in the wash?  Sometimes you’ve only worn the item for a couple of hours and it really doesn’t need a wash.  

Do you just wash them anyway (reducing the lifespan of your clothes, and wasting water and energy with the added environmental impact of overwashing)?  Or do you put them on a chair? Hang them straight back into your wardrobe?  They end up on the floordrobe?

How to store worn once but don't need washing clothes
Gently worn once – should I wash it? How do I store it? How do I know if I don’t wash it that I’ve worn it before?

Overlaundering clothing isn’t the answer.  Now of course where you live and how much you sweat (or glow as they used to say in the old days – men sweat, women glow) will impact on whether you have to wash each wear.  If you live in a hot and humid environment then wear-and-wash is par for the course.  But if you’re somewhere temperate, you may have layered other items underneath that catch the sweat, and really, the clothes pass the sniff test – yes where you sniff the garment to make sure it doesn’t smell unpleasant, then what to do?

Some people have a separate rail that they then hang worn items.  Which is all great if you’re planning to wear again in the immediate future, but what about if you don’t want to wear it for a while?

1. Air the Garment

The first thing you want to do is to air the garment overnight – just to make sure it doesn’t develop a smell before you put it away.  

You can do this by installing a hook in your wardrobe that you can hang the garment on before it’s returned to the wardrobe, or having a rack you pop the clothes onto.

How to Store Your Once Worn Clothes That Don't Need Washing - install a hook in your wardrobe to hang the item to air
Instal a hook in your wardrobe to hang and air your worn garment before it’s returned to the wardrobe

Do check before you decide it’s Ok for another wearing that you haven’t got any stains on it accidentally that you didn’t notice, hold it up in good lighting and check for this. Then sniff again – just to make sure it’s still smelling fresh. 

If it passes these tests then put it back in your wardrobe!

How do you know that it has been worn?  How can you keep a tab on it so that the next time you wear it, you’ll wash it afterwards?

2. Create a Visual Reminder of Its Worn Status

There are two simple and easy ways to do this.

1. Turn the hanger around – this works if you always have your hangers facing the same way, but if you don’t (or you’re using the reverse hanger technique to see if you actually wear a garment at all), then this is not the right solution for you.

2. Bread bag tags – yes those plastic tags that come off the bag your bread comes in.  Make a collection of them and keep them somewhere in your wardrobe and then just pop one onto the hanger before you put it away, yes that’s right – back on the rail with your other clothes.  That way when you next reach for that garment you know it’s due to be washed after this wearing.  

How to Store Your Once Worn Clothes That Don't Need Washing - use a bread bag tag on the hanger to remind you that you've worn it before
Add a bread bag tag to the hanger to identify that the garment has been worn before.

Now if you wear a garment multiple times before washing (and some things, particularly bottoms may get more wearings) you can just add more bread bag tags to keep track of your wear.  

Some fabrics, like wool – are antibacterial anyway – they really don’t need cleaning after each wear.  An airing is all that’s required.

You may also find this guide to how often to wash your clothes useful!

More Tips on Storing and Caring For Your Clothes

How to Care for Your Clothes

How to Create An Ordered Wardrobe (and why you want one)

Small Space, Big Style

18 Funky Storage Ideas for Your Accessories

How Long Will Your Clothes Last Before They Wear Out?

 

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17 Comments

  • I rehang the garment inside out. This lets me know that it has been worn once and also helps it to air out better.

  • Great, practical advice! The bread tag idea is cheap and creative.

    Here’s my system: first, I spray once-worn clothes with a mix of vodka, water, and vanilla, and then I hang them to air out on a hook. If they smell fresh after being aired, I hang or fold them and put them in the left side of my closet— the left side is reserved for once-worn or “clirty” (clean + dirty) clothes. Then I try to wear them again soon so they can be laundered.

  • An issue one rarely reads about but real! Even more delicately, I was taught the saying as “horses sweat, men perspire, but women only glow”. In fact it might have been not women but ladies….
    Your blog is great, Imogen, packed with useful information it is hard ot find anywhere else. Thank you!

  • This is something I struggle with. The floordrobe or in my case chairdrope is real! Thank you for these helpful tips! I’m going to start collecting those breadtags now.

  • In the winter, I tend to wash tops, skirts, and pants infrequently. Socks and underwear are changed daily, bras are worn more than once, frequency depends on my activity level. We have hot and humid long summers here, so summer clothing is washed much more frequently

    After each wearing, I perform the sniff test and check for stains. I air lightly worn tops and bottoms overnight before returning to the closet or dresser. Shoes are also inspected, cleaned as needed, and aired overnight before returning to their place in the over the door shoe organizer. I use 2 different colored hangers in my closet, one for clean garments, the other for worn garments. Worn sweaters are folded differently than clean ones. Everything gets washed before being put away with the change of seasons. Works for me!

  • I usually hang it and place it in a closet I have for items worn once, as a reminder that I am going to need to wear it again. With the humidity here, if i place it back in the closet after airing it it will grow mold spots, its happened before. The bread tag idea is superb Imogen!

  • Great article! I don’t want to wreck my clothes or the environment more than I have to. I turn once worn shirts & dresses inside out and put them back in the wardrobe after airing. (I seldom make it through more than 2 wears.) It’s an immediate visual reference & doesn’t require more equipment. My husband hates the look of hangers turned the wrong way so that isn’t an option.

  • I find that after one wearing, clothes really does have an unpleasant odor (if not to oneself, than to others!)…so for me, it’s into the laundry. For anyone who doesn’t believe this about the odor, ask a spouse/child to wear a garment all day and then smell it. 🙂 We have a large-capacity, low-use, high-efficiency washer, so that helps with environmental concerns.

  • I keep some large wooden beads in a container on my dresser, and put them on the hanger hook to show clothes have been worn and put back in the wardrobe. I also bought a beautiful marble hat rack, and use one side for worn clothes, (especially for the work week). The other side is for washed items that need a quick once over, de-pilling, ironing or cat hair removal before going in the wardrobe. I also bought a neat basket hamper with lid for the bedroom for stuff that needs washing.

  • I hang tops outside my wardrobe overnight before putting back. If i’d been dancing for example, the items go in the wash.

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