This is how frequently you should be changing your underwear
There’s something incredibly satisfying about wearing a matching bra and undies set under your outfit. It’s almost as if you are dressed in a concealed coat of armour (in the form of a black lace bralette and underpants) that radiates organised, capable and ‘has her sh*t together’ energy.
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Although, something that isn’t radiating the same energy? The overflowing undie drawer you picked the exact same set out of this morning. And to really kick you while you’re down, according to GQ, half the contents of that drawer have well exceeded their use by date. Yep, apparently we should be disposing of our undies every six months and replacing them with new ones.
So... once the initial embarrassment subsided and the defensive internal ‘how wasteful, my undies are in perfect condition’ monologue came to a finish, we did a little bit of our own investigating, before embarking on a full-on undie purge.
Speaking to Refinery 29, Philip M. Tierno, Professor of Microbiology and Pathology at the New York University School of Medicine and author of the soon to be released First, Wear A Face Mask: A Doctor’s Guide to Reducing Risk of Infection During the Pandemic and Beyond, elaborated on the underwear lifespan.
According to Dr Tierno, as long as we are undertaking normal washing practices (which we are), our undies don’t have a strict expiration date, “As long as you’re washing and disinfecting your underwear, and they’re mechanically functional, with no holes, and they’re not soiled, you can keep those” adding “when they become frayed or the elastic stops working, you’ll know to replace them”.
And in what we hope doesn’t become your new go-to ‘did you know’ fact for that (post) dinner party conversation, according to the 2001 research from the Journal of Infection, there’s about one-tenth of a gram of poop in the average clean pair of undies. However, Dr Tierno reassures that while most of the bacteria are eradicated from a proper wash, the small amount that sticks around won’t hurt you, “your machine won’t leave behind enough microbes to create a problem for you,” he said.
If you are still not convinced, you can do as Justin Bieber does and dispose of your underpants after every use (we don’t recommend this) or Dr Tierno recommends running a bleach cycle with no clothes on a monthly basis to ensure your washing machine is not collecting extra bacteria.
So, if you’re prepared to wash your undies after every use and chuck them when the elastic is gone and they are full of holes, then we think the ‘replace every six-month’ rule can be abolished.