If you are like most people, doing the laundry is not your favorite pastime. You may notice that it tends to pile up more in the warm weather, when we are actually wearing less clothes, than the winter months. I think we are more active in the summer and with the warmer weather, more sweaty, causing us to wash the clothes more often. If you are pregnant, chances are that you are perspiring a bit more than normal as the weather heats up and your hamper is filling up faster with bigger clothes. The bad news is that this pile of laundry is just going to increase when your family increases (although who doesn’t love putting away cute baby clothes?) But the good news is that we may not need to laundry as often as we do which can conserve water, energy and our own time and energy.
So, just how often do we need to wash our clothes and what clothes warrant more frequent washing than others? As Americans we shower more than any other culture and we a wash our clothes more frequently. So, as a first rule of thumb we can assume that if we are mostly clean when we are wearing our clothes, and we are changing our clothes every day, then if they are not undergarments and we have not worn them to work out and they pass the smell test and general visual review test, then they are good to wear again.
Maternity Underwear: The one piece of clothing we absolutely recommend you change and wash after one wearing is, of course, your underwear. If only for health and hygiene issues panties generally should be thrown in the laundry basket and changed every single day. The same goes for socks as our feet are known for their sweat and stink.
Maternity and Nursing Bras: However, maternity bras and nursing bras may not need to be laundered daily. If you are working out or wearing a workout bra or nursing sports bra, then we can probably assume you worked up a sweat and yes, you should change and launder your bra. However, have not had a very active day, then you can go a couple of days before washing your bra.
Nursing Pads: If you are nursing and wearing nursing pads under your bra for cushion and to help with leakage, make sure you do change those pads at least daily, but if the bra underneath is clean and did not get leaked on, you are probably good for another 2-3 wears Since bras do not generally come in direct contact with our underarms they actually do not need to be laundered as frequently as our close fitting tees and maternity tops. Also, it’s a good idea to rotate bras every day to give them a chance to recover. A 24 hour rest period as well as less frequent washing allows them to last longer. NOTE: Washing instructions on bras are very important. Most should be washed on the Delicate Gentle Cycle and it is generally a good idea to put these delicate in a washable mesh laundry bag so they do not get tangled up with other clothing in the washer and are more protected. Also, most nursing bras should be line dried. If you do put them in the dryer makes sure it is on the Cool Delicate Cycle.
Maternity Camis/Nursing Tanks: Other intimate type clothing that is hugging your skin such as camis and nursing bra tanks can be worn 1-2 times depending on perspiration and smell test and how long you were wearing them. Again, these items should be treated delicately and washed on the Gentle Cycle and either line dried or tumbled dry on the Cool Delicate Cycle.
Maternity Jeans: Denim is an incredibly durable fabric and usually looks better on us as it molds to our curves while wearing them. If you wash your demin too frequently then the heat and detergents can fade your jeans and make them look older more quickly. Maternity jeans in particular have a lot more spandex stretch to them than your regular prepregnancy jeans, so they are more sensitive to heat and detergent. Jeans can be worn up to five times before they need to be washed. When you do wash make sure the heat is not too high and you are better off opting for a more gentle cycle in the washer unless they are truly soiled. Also, be careful with drying as spandex can shrink if you overheat and over dry.
Maternity Pants/Dress Slacks/Maternity Skirts: If you work indoors in an air conditioned environment, then you can usually wear these items 3-4 times before washing if you haven’t spilled anything on them. To stretch the days you can go between washings it is best to change out of them as soon as you get home and hang them up so the wrinkles fall out. Simply getting into the habit of taking off work clothes/nice days clothes at the end of the day at home and not lounging in them will extend their wear.
Maternity Sweater, Jackets and Blazers: These are all second layer items that are not in direct contact with our skin and not clothes that we wear to work out in so naturally they require the least amount of cleaning. Make sure you check your fabric labels so that you dry clean or hand wash and line dry as directed. If there is no visible stains and the areas that are closer in contact to the skin such as the sleeve cuffs and collars are clean, then you are good to go 6-7 times. If you have a suit you wear frequently make sure that you get both the suit jacket and slacks cleaned together to prevent uneven fading.
Maternity Sleepwear: Although you may shower nightly before changing into your maternity or nursing sleepwear, you still shed skin cells at night and you sweat in your sleep. Even if your sleepwear does not seem very dirty we still recommend washing it every 2-3 wearings. For items that are not super dirty but still need to be washed you might consider colder water and less detergent so that you are keeping your clothes clean but not wearing them out or overexposing your skin to chemicals.
Hopefully the above recommendations are good news to reduce your laundry list and save you more energy for your house, family and self. Along the same lines we are getting more and more feedback from medical research that we really don’t need to be showering as much as we do. Less frequent showering leads to more hydrated skin and healthier hair. Overall less water usage and washing leads to an easier and less expensive way of life which is what we all want in life!