Stella McCartney Doesn't Want You To Wash Your Clothes – Is She Right?

We asked a hygiene expert her golden rules for bras, jeans, dresses and more.
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Stella McCartney has revealed she avoids washing her clothes whenever possible – much to the delight of every bra-wearing woman on the planet.

The designer said she has one basic rule in life: “If you don’t absolutely have to clean anything, don’t clean it.”

“I wouldn’t change my bra every day and I don’t just chuck stuff into a washing machine because it’s been worn,” she told The Observer this weekend. “I am incredibly hygienic myself, but I’m not a fan of dry cleaning or any cleaning, really.”

But is wearing clothes for as long as possible hygienic? Dr Lisa Ackerley, aka The Hygiene Doctor, is inclined to agree that “we probably do wash our clothes too much”.

“You’re not going to drop dead because you’ve got a grubby bra or a grubby t-shirt or a grubby jumper,” she tells HuffPost UK.

How often should you wash t-shirts, dresses, bras and jumpers? 👗

Dr Ackerley says there is no hard and fast rule for how often you should wash most clothes items, such as t-shirts, jumpers, bras and dresses.

“I wouldn’t say anything is wash monthly, weekly or whenever because it depends on how often you wear them and what you’re doing,” she says.

“It’s a case of when they look dirty for jumpers; with t-shirts, it’s when they’re smelly, and a bra is the same. It’s not going to do anybody any harm if you choose to wear a work dress a number of times.”

If you have a flakey or broken skin condition, such as eczema or psoriasis, you might want to wash clothes more frequently, especially if you scratch, she adds.

“You might have bacteria on the outside of the skin that are perfectly happy, but when they get into the body through a cut, the cut can get infected,” she explains.

What about jeans? 👖

Jeans are one of the most divisive clothes when it comes to how often to chuck them in the washing machine. While some people wash their denim every fortnight (when they go baggy), others choose to never wash jeans, opting instead to put them in the freezer. A spokesperson for Hiut Denim Co previously told HuffPost UK that raw denim is best given a good six months before washing.

Dr Ackerley says there’s no magic number, but advises against a “never” rule. “Some people say never wash your jeans, but I think you will get a build-up of grease, particularly if they’re tight-fitting jeans and if you had an in-growing hair or something, that could cause an infection,” she says.

Are socks and pants any different? 🧦

The only two clothing items that could do any harm if they go unwashed are pants and socks, says Dr Ackerley.

“You should wash socks every day, and if you’ve got athlete’s foot, you should use a 60 degree or higher wash to kill the fungi,” she says.

It’s the same with knickers and pants, anything under 60 degrees won’t kill bacteria. Don’t put the knickers in with the tea towels on a low wash, because you might have faecal contamination in your knickers and you wouldn’t want that near your kitchen.”

If you’re unable to put pants and socks on a hot wash (lingerie may be delicate, for example) or you never wash at 60 for the environment’s sake, Dr Ackerley recommends washing on a cooler setting but adding a laundry sanitiser, which can be bought from the supermarket.