Consumer Reports: How often do you need to wash your stuff?

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Think you do a lot of laundry? You’re not alone: Believe it or not, the average family does about 300 loads of laundry per year. That’s about five loads every week! One way to cut back: Don’t wash your clothes as often. But how long can we really go before we need to wash everyday items? Search the web and that’s up for debate. Consumer Reports says don’t throw in the towel just yet — its laundry experts are here to help! 

Do you have to wash your comforters every single week? It’s not necessary, says Consumer Reports —- unless your pet sleeps on the bed, every three weeks will do the job. But don’t go too much longer. Things we can’t see can accumulate, like dust mites, bacteria, and dead skin cells that can trigger allergies and skin irritation.

Sheets are another matter — wash them every five to seven days — sooner if you or someone is sick. 

Fear of a dank, moldy towel? Don’t throw it on the floor. Hang it up. If you allow it to dry in between, you won’t have to wash it as often. We generally suggest three to five days.

But undergarments, T-shirts, socks, and especially gym clothes should be washed after each use. And don’t bunch them up in a bag and leave them there. It’ll become a science experiment.

What about khakis and dress shirts? Unless stained or sweaty, or you don’t wear undergarments, save yourself the trouble and wash them after three wears. And what about jeans? Even longer!

To get the most out of your detergent, use those tested by Consumer Reports. Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release, Tide Oxi, and Persil Pro Clean Stain Fighter earn top spots. But don’t overdo it — more is not necessarily better.

And don’t forget — how you sort your laundry is key. Consumer Reports recommends washing heavily soiled items separately from lightly soiled ones. Treat stains before you throw them in the wash, and of course separate whites from colors.


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