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?
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.
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.
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!