Specialists reveal it may be time to throw out your underwear

A less glamorous staple of women's wardrobe is that years old set of knickers that are just too comfy to replace. How often should we be replacing our knickers?

Now we aren't talking about expensive lacy underwear that you only wear for special occasions, but more the everyday cotton panties that cost about £5 or £10 per pack.

Underwear shouldn't be kept forever

As it turns out that despite warnings of ethical practises when it comes to shopping and holding onto our clothes for as long as we can to avoid textile waste, underwear is not really something we should keep forever.

This may be a little confusing, and you might think that if they feel good and there's no obvious damage to them then, what's the harm in keeping them? Well, it turns out for reasons concerning both hygiene and fit you should really cycle through those pants at least once a year.

Bacteria can linger on your underwear

Dr Shirin Lakhani, a cosmetic doctor and intimate health specialist confirms that hot-wash or not, there will still be lingering bacteria on your underwear after you wash them. She discussed:

Your underwear is in close contact with your skin and more specifically your intimate areas for prolonged periods of time.

She continued:

As a result, it comes into contact with a lot of dead skin from those areas as well as bacteria - both the healthy naturally-occurring bacteria that we all have, as well as more sinister bacteria that can be a result of infections such as thrush and STIs. There is some research that suggests that even washing your underwear in a washing machine won't always rid it completely of bacteria such as E.coli.
thumbnail
Recycle your underwear every year Getty Images

Dr Lakhani also states that while some bacteria are harmless there will always be some that are, especially when it comes to the parts of your body that rarely see the sun. Additionally, she states that underwearthat you wear to the gym should be repurchased even more often.

Another specialist, OB-GYN Dr Tosha Rogers told Essence magazine dished that underwear should be replaced a little more often at every 6-9 months but for the same reasons. She states that when you leave your dirty underwear in the washing basket for a week all the nasty bacteria, yeast and mould have time to really embed itself into the fabric.

Unfortunately, the bacteria does not always come out in the wash which means that over time it could cause odour, skin irritations, swelling and even rashes. Yikes.

Professional advice

But Dr Rogers has also dished some advice. Every 6-9 months buy a new pack of underwear and if you get a pack of 4 or 5 then throw away 4 or 5 old ones.

Additionally, Dr Rogers recommends you abandon those period panties. Yes, those age-old bloomers that you whip out once a month in order to save your other undies from potential staining. Instead, she advises people to learn what their period requirements are and act accordingly.

Also, after a while, your underwear can sometimes just become ill-fitting. Let's face it your 3-year-old period panties definitely don't have the elasticity they once did. Just get rid of them.

Finally, wash your underwearwith a gentle detergent. This reduces any chances of irritation from your undergarments and you can even buy washing detergent that is specifically made to target harmful bacteria.

Try optimising your mental health with 'mental hygiene' tips Try optimising your mental health with 'mental hygiene' tips