🧺Top-tested detergents: Here’s how often you need to do laundry

Average family does about 300 loads of laundry per year

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.

“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,” said Consumer Reports laundry expert Rich Handel.

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.

Here are the three detergents that earned Consumer Reports top scores in consumer tests:

  1. Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release
  2. Tide Oxi
  3. Persil Pro Clean Stain Fighter

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.


CR test engineer Rich Handel says it's time to free yourself from the grips of fabric softener 🙌. Learn more at cr.org/laundry5things #laundrytok #cleantok #5thingsiwouldneverdo

♬ original sound - Consumer Reports

Recommendations from the American Cleaning Institute:

  • Bed sheets should be washed at least every two weeks, more often if you sweat a lot at night
  • Pajamas should be washed after 3 or 4 wears (if you shower before bed, you may get a few more wears before washing).
  • Bath towels should be hung to dry between uses and washed after 3 to 5 normal uses. Towels need to be allowed to dry before they are used again. So, remember to hang up your towel after each use.
  • Underwear and socks should be washed after each wearing.
  • Bras can be worn 2-3 times before washing. Be sure to give your bra a rest day in between wearing to give the elastic a chance to regain its shape.
  • T-shirts, tank tops and camisoles should be washed after each wearing.
  • Outer clothes like dress shirts and khakis can be worn a few times before washing unless it is hot out and you are sweating or they are visibly dirty or stained.
  • Jeans can typically be worn 3 times before washing.
  • Leggings and tights should be washed after every wear to get rid of the baggy knees.
  • Suits typically can be worn several times during normal use before dry cleaning (3-4 times for wool and 4-5 times for synthetics). Depending on your lifestyle or environment you may need to dry clean more often. Smoky bars, smog or smelly environments or if your suit gets stained may mean that you need to clean them more often.
  • Bathing suits should be washed after every wear.


  • Whites and silks are prone to discoloration and should be cleaned after every wear.
  • Clothes with stains should be washed, spot cleaned or dry cleaned as soon as possible – this will extend the garment’s life which will be greener in the long run since you won’t need to replace the item.